DFLA 2020 Essay Contest Results

A Note from Kristen Day, DFLA Executive Director

Dear 2020 Contest Participants,

I want to thank all who participated.

This year's contest was very competitive – with a large number of entries and a significant number of these rated as extraordinarily strong. It's clear so many of you invested much thought, research, and personal introspection as you wrestled with a prompt with many facets. Perhaps I can empathize with you – making your best case against difficult odds is very much an affair of the heart. Thank you for your participation and enthusiasm.

The judging committee made two recommendations that I will act on. First – due to the overall strength of essays, they strongly favored notifying students whose essay finished as a finalist (top 9 essays) or semi-finalist (top 75 essays). Our rules don’t have a provision for contacting students to tell them placement, but we will respond to participant questions or inquiries. Therefore, if you write our contest coordinator, he will tell you where your essay finished.

The judging committee's other comment relates to the many, singular and profound insights that pepper so many of the essays – what the judging committee called "quotable gems". These are snippets of roughly 10 to 20 words that reflect a universal truth or virtue, aphorisms we tend to associate with Nobel laureates and historical figures of distinction; that you hear in graduation speeches. We would like to dedicate a page on our website to these "gems" – to let others hear and appreciate your inspiring and uplifting perspectives. Again, if you write us and asked us what “quotable gems” stood out to us, we’ll tell you; or if you have your own favorite snippet, let us know and if it fits, we'll post it. Tell us if you want us to show your name. We want to give you credit, but like the winning essays – we will only show your name with your permission.

Again, thank you for being a part of our contest, and we hope you will return next year to challenge yourself with a different prompt.

2020 Essay Prompt

This year, DFLA asked students to respond to this prompt:  

At a January 26, 2020, town hall meeting with aspiring Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor Pete Buttigieg, in regard to a pro-life Democrat's question regarding inclusion in the party, the moderator rephrased the citizen’s concern as, "WHAT DO YOU SAY TO DEMOCRATS WHO ARE PRO-LIFE… ON AN ISSUE OF SUCH DEEP CONSCIENCE – THAT THEY SHOULD OVERLOOK THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE AND LOOK AT THE WHOLE SUM OF VIEWS? OR GO FIND ANOTHER PARTY?" Buttigieg sidestepped the question, declining the chance to welcome them in the party, and other Democratic presidential candidates appear to have the same attitude. BUT HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND?


Prize-Winning Essays

1st Place

The Democratic Party is characterized by a keen sense of justice, a willingness to evaluate and reevaluate our sociopolitical structures, and most of all, a deep belief in the sanctity of life. We have seen this commitment in every Democratic platform in recent history- gun reform, healthcare accessibility, women’s empowerment, minority rights- all for the conviction that no life should be lost needlessly. This drive to protect and uplift the most vulnerable in society aligns with the intention of the pro-life movement, yet many Democrats do not understand the reasoning behind the progressive pro-life platform. Thus, in this time of great social and political change, I would ask pro-life Democrats to be active and vocal in the Democratic Party to encourage open political discourse by raising pressing questions about the ethics of our laws and our leaders....

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1st Runner-Up - by Alyson (Aly) Diaz

‘‘It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’’ -- Hubert Humphrey Jr. (D)

Former Vice President Humphrey’s words illustrate what it means to be a Democrat: standing up for the vulnerable and underrepresented, and for the values of equality, diversity, and unity. Defending those who otherwise would not have a voice in public policy is the Democratic party's role in the United States...

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2nd Runner-Up - by James Elliott

In a political field increasingly characterized by extreme ideological division, the uniting words of Eleanor Roosevelt come to mind. She observed, “The Democrats believe that the whole people should govern.” The whole people entails all communities - communities of different ethnicities and different perspectives - who share a common goal of progressively promoting access to healthcare, reforming the broken criminal justice system, and improving quality of life for American citizens. However, the Democratic Party has betrayed its value of inclusion by consistently alienating members who take progressive beliefs to a virtuous whole life conclusion...

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