Why I’m Not a Republican (Or a Democrat)

My father always said there was nothing worse than a Moderate. Fence Sitters, he called them. Can’t make up their minds, can’t stand for anything because they have no cause.

I’m a Moderate. Currently, at least. A couple decades ago you might have called me a Conservative. In some circles, simply by virtue of the fact that I voted for Obama, I would be known as a Liberal. What I definitely am not nor ever will be is a Republican. Or a Democrat.

Dad was hard right. He sold Impeach Clinton bumper stickers at his gun store and blasted Republican trumpet Rush Limbaugh through the stereo he kept near the register loud enough so the cows in the neighboring fields could hear it. Dad believed Rush was right about, well, pretty much everything. Back then, so did I.

I was the cartoonist for the school paper during high school and my signature was working in the phrase “Rush is Right” into each and every cartoon I did. Sometimes it was a shirt, other times a street sign. I did it because I believed in the political doctrine espoused by Rush. He was RIGHT. So was the National Review and William F. Buckley and George Will and all the rest.

Yeah, I had a subscription to the National Review during high school. And yeah, all the girls wanted me.

My attraction to the Republicans was deeply rooted in my religious beliefs and morals. Republicans were all about family values. So was I. They were against abortion. So was I. They were in favor of a strong military even in times of peace. So was I. They were for welfare reform. So was I.

And you know what? I still am, on all of that and more.

I’m also in favor of Universal Health Care and the Buffet Rule and I sympathize with what the Occupy movement is trying to do and say (even though I think they need to get a reality check, toss the drums, and break up the circle).

When the change happened, it happened fast. By the time I registered to vote at age 18, I did so as an Independent. “You’re throwing your vote away,” my dad said. “Only in the primaries,” I countered. “Bah,” he said in my imagination as he walked away shaking his head.

Dad died almost a year later, so he never really got the see the full transformation that began, oddly enough, because of Rush Limbaugh.

When I was 17, I started really listening to Rush. I mean really listening. He sure liked to talk about himself. Loved to tell his listeners how great he was and how blessed they were to be able to hear the incredible wisdom that fell from his lips like raindrops on barren soil. His arrogance and ego were so ridiculous that they played as comedy. But I noticed something. He wasn’t winking when he said those things.  He was never anything less than serious in his self interest. The comedy was just how he sold the idea.

So then I started really listening. A lot of the stuff Rush said didn’t make any sense. He betrayed the very basic rules of logic in order to make his points. He made huge leaps to get to some of his conclusions and accusations, and then didn’t back them up in any substantial way.  He presented inflammatory comments from the other side with no context and then spun off into wild speculations and tales of hidden agendas and master schemes for which I had to take his word. Didn’t matter what was true or not, what mattered was what could be true. And what could be true was probably–

–most likely–

–oh, let’s face is it was–

TRUE.

Rush’s loyalty wasn’t to the actual truth, I concluded, it was to his ratings, his followers, his political party and his money. Self interest was the current that ran through everything he did. And he was honest about it! I just, for a long time, didn’t believe him.

If Rush… then what about Republicans?  The Grand Old Party had money and power to protect, too. Was it possible those things could be more important than what was good for the country? Did the Republicans act out of self interest?

Well, duh.

It didn’t matter that the GOP shared many of the same values and beliefs as me. That started looking more like a flag they were waving and less like a genuine set of ideals. If their chief priority was the perpetuation of their power and influence, then the ideals would have to change according their degree of inconvenience and the times. How could I be a part of something I didn’t trust and that could be so fluid in its composition and purpose?

I was adrift. I looked towards the Democrats. Ich. No way.

So, I registered Independent. Years passed and, out from under the gun of a party line, my political views freely lined up more with my moral and religious understanding. I ended up a Moderate. Probably a little right of center, but a Moderate. Cue roll in Dad’s grave.

Dad never could have guessed things would get this deeply divided. I often wonder what he’d make of the political realities of 2012. Of clowns like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann and “news” stations like Fox  News and MSNBC. As a guy standing in the middle, it’s super obvious to me that the two sides aren’t even having the same conversation or using the same language anymore. Would Dad see that? Or would he have grown and changed with the party line?

I have no way of knowing, of course. But I do know this: I resent being in the middle. I resent being a Moderate. I feel on the outside of just about every political conversation and, for the most part, I choose not to indulge the political side of myself anymore. I find it incredibly frustrating and exhausting disagreeing with everyone. That’s a lot of fights to pick.

It’s probably Dad in my head, but I’d rather pick a side. I don’t think the truth is always in the middle. Sometimes, one person is right and the other is wrong. Right now, unfortunately–in this country– it’s not that simple.

Maybe the real problem is that I picked a side a long time ago and I stayed there. It’s everybody else that moved.

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13 comments

  1. With VERY similar experiences growing up in Nebraska, I could not agree more. Thanks for articulating views I never took the time to.

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    1. Up until last night, I’d never really articulated them either. It was a good exercise for me. There are topics I shy away from because I’m not sure I can properly contextualize my views in a way they can be understood. This was one of those. There are others.

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  2. I have felt a lot of this personally myself. Is it too convenient to just agree with you? Your comments are succinct and valid. Independent is freedom to make up my own mind. I have very strong values and I don’t need someone to tell me they are right or Right. I cannot agree with the comments on news stations cos I don’t partake. I try to inform myself through candidate websites and personal actions. It is frustrating and I have felt it a long time. I do vocalize and advertise some of my beliefs and must be able to substantiate them. Mostly I leave it to faith and raise my kids to be responsible citizens (even if it means passionately discussing the plight of fish and dried up farms with a concerned 10 y.o.).

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    1. You’re ahead of me, Heather. My kids know nothing about the plight of fish. Good on you. And thanks for agreeing! I honestly didn’t expect many to agree with me on this one.

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  3. I too, rarely indulge in these conversations. But, I will just say this: Politics is a play. Entertainment. We all have to buy a ticket, we can all watch from the stands, we boo and hiss and even jeer on cue when the the Rush’s and Olberman’s raise the proper cue card, but in the end… we are never allowed on the stage.

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    1. I hope that’s not entirely true, Dave, but I hear what you’re saying. There is a lot of farce in politics and the machine is powerful, but I still believe real change can happen and good people can rise to the top. I don’t believe the devils will ever get full control of the world.

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  4. I registered Independent years ago. I got tired of the filth on both sides of the fence. I’m not either party. I’m a mix of them and then some. At this point, I’m so frustrated and disgusted with politics that it’s easier to stay quiet than get pummeled for voicing my opinion. Interesting thoughts….

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    1. That’s exactly how I feel, Kat. It’s easier to stay quiet. This blog is kind of my first stab at stepping out. I may take a few more stabs. I think my opinion and the opinions of those of us “in the middle” are valid.

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  5. My emotions and my instincts lean to the moderate wing of the Democratic Party (if there still is one), and some of my hard, logical, analytical part agrees with some of the espoused positions of moderate to liberal Republicans (if, indeed, there still are any).
    It was no wonder, then, that when I registered to vote for the first time, when I lived in Baltimore, I registered as “Declines to Affiliate”. This was the third alternative, which also disqualified you from voting in primary elections.
    I maintain that attitude, for the most part. I dislike the “one-issue” partisans, and I deplore the polarization that politics has developed.
    In my view, nobody has a lock on the truth, and learning a thing or two from the experiences and viewpoints of others can be a *good* thing.
    As for picking a side, I have. I pick *my* side. I make my decisions based on careful research, including what rotund rodent’s rectums are supporting what view of things.
    As for moving my position, the inability to change when presented with evidence to the contrary seems to me to be the position that is counter-productive.
    But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

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  6. Grandma said you had a political post so I stopped by to read it. I must say that it was well written and it seems you relayed your thoughts effectively. I am registered republican for two reasons. #1 I get to vote in the primaries if I want and #2 changing parties requires burning calories and Im just too lazy. I feel mostly libertarian these days and enjoy developing my political views as I listen to other people’s opinions and gather more info.

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  7. The sad fact is, both sides have some great ideas, and both side have some horrible ideas. The problem is, we don’t have the balance between the two that we so desperately need.

    Yes, people who are in need should be helped. However, should we just give them a paycheck and forget about them? NO! Give them a Hand Up, not a Hand Out. They’ll thank you in the long run. Well, most of them. Some people are just ungrateful little …

    Both parties, and I don’t know when this happened or if its been that way since before I was born, are self interested little jerks. They don’t truly care about us, they’ll just say and do whatever it takes to get elected(or reelected). It’s just a matter of what form of poison you’re willing to swallow.

    We need to balance a budget, period. There is no doubt about that. Don’t believe me? See what happens to the state of YOUR house when you don’t maintain a healthy budget. Why should our government function any differently than our own houses? Yes, I don’t like taxes, but we need to balance our budget. There is no doubt about that.

    The problem with getting there is that we need to take the power BACK from the lobbyists and corporate interests. We need to REMOVE their rights to vote themselves a pay raise. We need to become … THE BOSS.

    They work for us, not the other way around. Until we EMBRACE that very idea and are willing to DESTROY any politician(of any party) who stands against programs and ideas that will make America a BETTER place … nothing will ever change. As the old saying goes, “All it takes for Evil to prosper is for the Good Man to do nothing.”

    Yes, these are strong words but … we’ve gone too far down the road to do anything but use strong words.

    I believe firmly in the ideas of our country, in our great Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. I would gladly DIE for those ideals(though I’d rather not, it’s painful!)

    I wish I could say the same for my government.

    Where I stand? I believe in a balanced budget, I believe in the idea(if not the execution) of Obamacare, I believe in limited government involvement in our DAILY lives. I believe that we should HELP those in need(see above for how I define help). I believe … I believe in the ideals of our Constitution (like the Sovereign Rights of the States).

    I don’t know WHAT you would label me anymore. I want Progress, but I want to make sure that Progress does not destroy us. Two steps forward and three steps back (which is what many government programs end up doing) is NOT progress.

    Call me what you will.

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