Republican–>Independent–>Democrat

I am sure that people I have known are surprised that I am now a registered Democrat. Let me start by saying getting to where I am politically now has not been a smooth transition. I don’t expect that Republicans will understand my process. That being said, for those that wonder how I came to where I am now, this might be interesting.

I have spent the vast majority of my lifetime as a registered Republican.  I was raised in a Republican household.  When I registered to vote at the age of 18, as a Senior in High School, I just followed the path that my parents had taken for so many years.  There was no pressure to register Republican at all. However, at 18 years of age, following in my parents footsteps seemed the thing to do.

 I voted for Richard Nixon in 1972 as part of the country’s first 18 year-old vote.  I never really thought out my vote, I just went along with the beliefs of my parents.  Little did I know at the time that Nixon would be embroiled in the country’s biggest political scandal in the following years.  Now, when I think back, there was no way as a Senior in High School, faced with the very real possibility of military service in a war I didn’t believe in, that I could really have understood just how ignorant, and politically corrupt Nixon was.  Political thought was not part of my life at that age.  By the way, for an 18 year old, not believing in the war was easy, I did not want to die over there. My point here is that during the turbulent times during the Vietnam War, I wasn’t paying much attention to the political upheaval in the country. 

I had experienced the horrible events of 1968 while in junior high school. The war was raging on and the country was in a tailspin over it. I pretty much knew what was going on, but the events that year still were not making any kind of impression on me. Music of The Doors, Hendrix, The Beatles, tended to be more important to me as a young guitar player than any political issue. At that time the draft was in full swing and in the back of all of our minds was what draft number we would have when the time came to get one.

My high school years were basically spent working my tail off to do everything possible to build myself up from that 4’11” 90 lb 8th grader to someone who could withstand the physical nature of high school football.  By my Senior season I was 5’10” and 171 lbs. All of us who played for the Baldwin Park High School Braves invested heavily in big lunches and long weight room sessions. Athletics pretty much drove everything we all did and was just about all we thought about.  I wonder now if my teammates self-worth was as invested in our athletic performance as mine was. While preparing for my senior year on the track team, I had big goals.  I actually dropped last period Calculus to spend more time in the weight room. That helped my track career but it didn’t do anything to get me more prepared for college math classes.   

I am not sure if I was a “normal” teenager.  In fact, after teaching high school for 15 years I have come to the conclusion that there really is no “normal” when it comes to the way teenagers react to their world. As I finished college, got married, raised a family while teaching and coaching high school students, I didn’t have much time to think about political things.  The closest I ever got to a political rally was in my Senior year at Long Beach State University, sitting on the open grass area listening to Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda. By this time, she was known as Hanoi Jane for her stance against the war and a trip to North Vietnam.  Their talk was interesting but didn’t move the needle on my Republican leanings.  Even a close encounter with Jane in the student store as she stood in line in front of me at the checkout stand didn’t persuade me of anything other than the fact that as a 21 year old, I was talking to a hugely consequential individual who actually carried on a decent conversation with me for a while. 

What has moved me from the ranks of being a registered Republican to being a registered Democrat was not so much that I agreed with all of the Democrat polices.  It was that I found myself consistently disagreeing with the behaviors of Republican politicians.  Note that I did not say Republicans. I said Republican politicians. Obviously, Nixon was a complete embarrassment, but he was only the first to disappoint.  I found that as a “Born Again Christian” I was seeing things in certain politicians that didn’t sit well with me.  Incidentally, I also found that my consistent leaning away from Republican orthodoxy tended to separate me from my dearest Christian friends that I worked with at Western Christian High School. There weren’t a lot of political discussions in the inner sanctum of the lunch room, but I found myself keeping quiet about my evolving movement away from the “normal” thought processes of people I totally respected.  I should note that the teaching staff at the school were among the most dedicated, spiritual individuals I have ever been in contact with.  They loved their jobs, they loved the school and most of all, they loved those kids.  I still feel that my time there was the most important part of my teaching career.  Those kids were “our” kids and there is just no other way to describe it.

My unhappiness with Republicans and specifically with Ronald Reagan centered on the fact that he closely followed the growing “religious right” with regard to the AIDS virus devastating portions of the populace.  I started teaching about the AIDS virus in the early 80’s when my students in my Anatomy & Physiology classes started asking me about what this killer virus, the “gay plague” was all about.  Do yourself a huge favor…. watch the movie “And The Band Played On”.  It is the story of all of the things that happened early in the Aids outbreak and how the CDC struggled to get the President of the United States to get then funds to fight this disease, and to begin talking truthfully about it.  Reagan waited years to bring it up and I am sure it was because of the “religious right” putting huge pressure on him.  After all, they were just “Gays” and who really cared?  Regardless of the good things that Reagan did, he and his political machine were absolutely responsible for increasing the probability that AIDS would kill thousands.  I can remember saying to myself “what the hell is wrong with these people that they would jeopardize the lives of others in such a cruel and thoughtless manner”.  

Gradually, the thoughts of remaining a Republican were harder to justify for myself personally. The last Republican I voted for G.W. Bush.  He was a good man, and an accomplished leader.  Unfortunately, he ran in to a political whirlwind named Bill Clinton and was not elected for a second term.  I voted for Clinton at that time.  I voted for him a second time.  But by the time I cast the second vote for him, I was a registered Independent.  My move towards becoming a Democrat was spurred on by the actions of Kenneth Starr.  I just did not see the value of a huge investigation into a failed Arkansas land deal.  That investigation was a political attempt to terminate the Presidency of someone who was hated by the other side.  Sound familiar?  At any rate, the Clintons were found to be completely without blame in the “Whitewater” scandal and Kenneth Starr broadened the investigation to include a nefarious affair between the President of the United States and a young intern.  At the time, I thought that the broadening of the investigation by the Special Counsel’s office had nothing to do with the performing of the Presidents official responsibilities.  I certainly didn’t think lying to the FBI was the thing to do, but to face impeachment as a result of behavior covering up a sexual affair seemed wrong to me. Clinton was impeached, and not convicted.  His popularity among the voters in this country skyrocketed and he had a very successful term of office.  However, by this point, I had no ability to vote for any Republican as I deemed them members of a group that was almost completely beholding to the “religious right” that I was once a member of.  

Now, I am a member of the “religious left’, and there are those that believe that this is not remotely possible.  The “right” has taken over the Republican party, and truth be known, that political party has undertaken such a huge move away from their original political ideology that they are unrecognizable at this time.  There is a large number of very spiritual people who are Democrats out there, and we aren’t as loud and boisterous, but the reader should understand, that I do not believe that any religious group, even one in which I was once, or am now a member of, should have undue influence on the politics of this nation. 

I did not vote for George Bush.  I can not tell you how badly I disliked the people he surrounded himself with in his Cabinet.  The lies, the manipulation of intelligence, the pressure put on the intel community to come up with a reason to go into Iraq are proof that my lack of trust in him was well founded. That Administration lied and thousands died. There are no excuses for that they did.

I totally admired John McCain.  He was a hero that served this country.  I had a hard time not voting for him, but his political association with a party that had completely lost its bearings and moved away from their stated political ideology kept me from it. His Vice-Presidential choice cemented that I could not vote for him.

  I trusted in the ability of Barack Obama.  That trust paid off quite well for me.  Take a good look at the Obama legacy and you will see that there was no corruption in that Administration.  (I am amazed how many Conservatives have told me that the Obama Administration was the most corrupt in history. Facts do not back up that set of beliefs. As a man with a science degree, I can’t accept opinions not based upon facts.) How many of his Administration were convicted of any type of crime?  The answer is easy…none of them.  You may disagree with some of his policies, but he was an honest man, one that the country could be proud of and who served with distinction.  Did he make mistakes?  Of course he did.  Was he sometimes slow to react?  Yes he was. Did he tend to over-think things? Probably. But over-thinking an issue, and depending upon the views of other professionals is a problem we should have to deal with at this time.

 That being said, the difference between Obama and our current President is remarkable. So that is the story of my evolving from a Republican to a Democrat.  From one who trusted Republican Politicians to one who can not trust them now.  The damage done to the Republican party by this President will reverberate for a decade or longer.  The Republican Party is totally unrecognizable and is totally dedicated to defending actions of their beloved leader in spite of the fact that they know his behavior, his attitude, his lack of intelligent thought, and his policies, tend to go against everything they say they believe in.  These are good people, with grand ideas about public service. They have been taken over by a man who leads them like a typical cult leader with all of the trappings of that kind of leadership.  

There is no more Republican Party, there is only the Trumpublican Party and I am going to spend the next 5 months before the election describing, revealing, and stating my reasons that our current President does not deserve a second term.  I would hope (but I don’t trust) that certain individuals who supported him in the past, will take an honest look at the nature of the man, his leadership vacuum, his continued destruction of American good will throughout the globe, and seriously consider whether their continued support of him will be good for the Republican Party and the nation.   

I have no reason to believe that Conservatives will agree with me on anything I say.  I have no expectation that any minds will be changed. I can not go into the next election without calling attention to the obvious. There has never been a President of the United States with the horrible combination of lack of empathy, lack of basic intelligence about the way the political environment works in this country, and the lack of leadership. He is, a malignant narcissist. I will not support such a person. Supporting such a person, would say things about me that are not remotely acceptable to me.

Every effort will be used to thoroughly document my statements.  Trump demands loyalty, and to be honest, many who support him will stay loyal, regardless of evidence that indicates their loyalty is detrimental to the country and their political party.  Stay tuned.  I can’t head towards November without saying things that need to be said.  These things need to be said regardless of your political loyalty.

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