I know I'm bleeding in front of sharks when I say this here on OS, but I am a Republican.
I don't have my own company, I'm not from a family of rich landowners and I detest Rush Limbaugh. Writing these words and reading them after being raised in a house of democrats I see myself as borderline blasphemous... and a little cold-hearted.
My father is an Irish Catholic born in Boston. At the end of our hall was a statue of the Virgin Mary (*crossing myself*) in a pot of fake ferns and above her was an 11"x14" framed picture of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy wasn't prayed to, but at the end of our hall was the reminder that Mary and Jack were sacred together - held in a homaged place for reminding us that mere humans can be perfect.
My mother came from a Mexican family whose American roots included blood and sweat given to numerous farming firelds. I was ten before I knew Cesar Chavez was a socialist - a dirty word at my private school - and I nearly got into a fist fight defending his honor.
Needless to say, my parents were later deeply disappointed by my exit from the Catholic Church to become (*gasp*) a protestant; and later my exit from the Democratic registry to become (*clasps at heart and topples over*) Republican.
I registered as a Republican when my own party, filled with disorganization and special interests, abandoned the ideals they were founded on.
Democrats were the first grass roots political party, organizing the people to have one voice to stand up to the Republicans, fueled by the money of wealthy land owners. The concern of the Democrats originally was that, given enough room, Republicans would only represent their wealthy landowning interests and forget the idea of a government that was called to represent its people.
Still the ideals of the party were for freedom of governmental control - Andrew Jackson (the first Democrat to be elected as President) is quoted as saying, “We are beginning a new era in our government. I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of a rigid economy and an inflexible determination not to enlarge the income beyond the real necessities of the government.” The newly formed Democratic Party was essentially dominated by farmers, city-dwelling laborers, and Irish Catholics.
Jackson was the real leader of a party for the people. The Jacksonian era changed not just the nation, but the world. It dared to say that the people were not going to be trampled by a government the same way that the colonies were trampled by a sovereign.
In later years, the Party would struggle to take back power in federal leadership. Abraham Lincoln (a candidate as controversial in his beliefs as Barack Obama) was a Republican and ran against Stephen Douglas, a Democrat.
Over the next 100 years Republicans and Democrats were worthy opponents, and then – I was born. While I was a nursing infant John F. Kennedy was shot. The nation shook, Republicans and Democrats alike. It began a change in the way the country saw the presidency; the day that Eden fell and we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The media became hyper-vigilant for any sign of political corruption, many believing that the assassination was a government conspiracy to overthrow a leader that they feared would lead us down the wrong road. With the media believing in the corruption of Republicans, the democratic party took and upswing. A later upswing came with Nixon and all the corruption that he was entangled in. What we were really exposed to in Nixon’s reign was sobering and a slap in the face: politics were filled with strange conspiracies and friendships.
By the time I could vote there was Carter and all of his crew. I liked Muskie because he seemed genuinely honest and for the people. I worked for a democratic Lietenant Governor of California, Leo McCarthy, where we hissed about stupid republicans, grabbing on to the tail of the other stupid elephants in front of them and following right behind, no matter waht. We were a thinking party, filled with thoughtful candidates. I could see beyond my own views on life issues (I am pro-life – anti death penalty) to champion the candidates I really believed in. Reagan was an idiot who somehow got by on his cabinet’s genius...Nancy made me sick.
The problem I slowly started seeing was that special interests targeted Democratic candidates. Having few rich contributors (like the Republicans) Democrats became prey to industry lobbyists where they asked for political favors in exchange for dollars (all legal). Life on the hill was more and more about who was contributing to whose political campaign and less about what you stood for. Jimmy Carter became a better man after he left Washington, citing the straightjackets of money affiliations that controlled not only Presidential candidates but senators and representatives.
Taxes started soaring to pay for social programs that had more pork in them than a supermarket meat department. Choice was now touted as the thinking woman’s stance on abortion. Democrats were wild and reckless in their campaigns. In fact, I noticed that the candidates eventually looked more and more like each other between the aisle. I wondered where the thinking Democrats were. I was now a young mother and the Shirley Chisolms became the Hillary Rodham Clintons, insulting stay-at-home moms for not contributing to their communities. I took it personally. Gary Hart, the last great Democratic hope, disappointed me by allowing a sex scandal to sentence his campaign to death.
When George Bush Sr. Took the White House I voted for him, loving his wife (an educator who championed literacy) more than I did him.
It required me to register as a republican.
The primaries were the reason I didn’t register as an independent at all, not being able to digest the fact that I couldn’t have a voice. At the time California had closed primaries, and I didn’t want to surrender my decision just because I was mad at my party.
Today I write shaking my head at myself. I have never in my life felt joined at the hip to a political candidate, which makes me realize that party affiliation doesn’t determine who I believe in or who I favor.
I love the idea of Barack Obama. I know in reality he is as disorganized as the party I abandoned so long ago. I boarded a ship I was taught to believe contained only the rich and heartless, only to find that the Republican party was filled with disillusioned Democrats who were tired of needless taxes - just like the Jacksonians.
“I understand that when government takes more money out of the hands of people, it makes it more difficult for them to buy things. If they can't buy things, the economy doesn't grow. If the economy doesn't grow, we don't put Americans to work.”
~ Mitt Romney