We, Americans are a unique people. The majority of us come from somewhere else, and many of us grew up in households where we were exposed to a variety of cultures. Many more families, mine included, have blended American customs with the customs of our ancestors to celebrate where we are and where we came from, all at once.
This is what defines me as an Ethnic American. I identify as both Polish-American and Irish-American, having grown up steeped in the traditions of my parents' respective ethnicities. Around the holidays is when I am most reminded of my heritage, surrounded by my Dad's huge Irish family and celebrating in traditionally Polish ways that my Mom taught me. I'm also reminded of where I come from on a daily basis by my family, my values, and my faith.
A year ago I set out to learn more about my heritage. I traveled to Poland, from where my mother's side of the family immigrated to America. In the few weeks that I spent in the Polish village where my grandfather was raised, I reconnected with family members who remained there, took part in traditions that felt familiar, and of course ate the most delicious Polish food I've ever had. Though an appreciation of traditional Polish customs was instilled in me from an early age -- having grown up attending a Polish church and having learned Polish phrases during afternoons spent with my grandfather -- it was my first time making the trip. My visit reminded me how intertwined family and heritage are with my identity.
The success of America's middle class is the foundation of the American Dream. It's the belief that if you work hard, you can afford to own a home, start a family, and retire with dignity. That's the dream that lured my grandfather from Poland to America. That's what many of our ancestors came here to achieve.
Being a Democrat is also a part of my identity that is strongly influenced by my family, my values, and my faith. I grew up watching my Dad engage in local politics in my hometown of Auburn, NY until the age of eight, when I became politically engaged myself by helping out on my Dad's race for school board. From an early age, I learned that the Democratic Party was a home for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality. It is a place where differences are prided, not stifled. It is a party that believes that the success of America lies in the success of its middle class.
As the CEO of the Democratic Party, I work every day to help elect leaders who promote policies that keep the American Dream alive. Just look at the Democrats' track record: we've worked to restore the economy after the financial crisis of 2008, to make healthcare and education accessible and affordable, and fought to raise the minimum wage and pass comprehensive immigration reform. It's no secret that the middle class has struggled in recent years, but under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the middle class is better off than it was six years ago. We've achieved progress, but there's still so much left to be done.
That's why I'm urging you to vote in the upcoming midterm election. We can't continue this progress without your support. I have been traveling the country, holding roundtables with ethnic community leaders to talk about what 2014 means to us as Ethnic Americans. In an election cycle where turn out can lag, it's important now, more than ever, to make your voice heard and to stand with the President. The American Dream as we know it is at stake.