I was raised in a staunch Republican family. As a very young girl I read volumes on history, novels based on historic figures, and loved learning about the birth of our country. My first introduction to politics and our election process was during the 1952 election cycle. At the age of 14 I had
the privilege of attending a speech given by the Republican candidate, Dwight Eisenhower. Even at that age I was greatly impressed. His demeanor, his calmness, his ideas, his humanity all seemed obvious to my young self. If I had been eligible to vote he would have been my choice, and the motto of the day was “I like Ike!”
Time hurries on, and people change. So do party’s. As presidents cycled through their terms the social awareness and humanity shown by Ike began to erode within his party. Reagan saw this country as a light for the world, but somehow many parts of the world managed to move forward as we stagnated. Our elections began to favor the minority of voters rather than mirroring the wishes of the majority. This was a result of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and our dependence on the electoral college. In all honesty the Democratic Presidents were not entirely innocent of blame. Executive orders were used by both parties as a way to get around the slow working, and sometimes downright stalling, of the congressional bodies.
The real omen of things to come happened in President Obama’s administration, when John Boehner stated, regarding Obama’s agenda as president: “We’re going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” And then Mitch McConnell revealed his plan to the National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Then Trump made his “magical” stroll down the escalator and our Representative Democracy began to erode.
As mentioned above my family was Republican. My two brothers and their families remain staunchly in that camp. I understand fully that living through Ike could cement that allegiance, that one might forgive Nixon’s problem if his policies were in alignment (he at least honored the Constitution and assisted with creating environmental laws), and then there was “the great communicator” that mesmerized his followers. I may have disagreed with Republican policy at times, but those presidents and the others during my 80+ years on this planet attempted to follow the unspoken rules understood by all. They appreciated that they were subject to the checks and balances as laid out in the Constitution. They honored the ideal that, while some might disagree with the administrations policies, the President was responsible for the safety and welfare of all of our citizens, not just those that voted for him, or helped bankroll his campaign.
I realize Trump voters wanted their judges at any price, the ordinary people wanted the appearance of a tax break, and the elite wanted real tax breaks for themselves. Huge businesses wanted to kill safety regulations that cost them extra profits, and white, middle aged males wanted a return to the fifties when racism was covertly acceptable, and wives were supposed to be “barefoot and pregnant” in the kitchen. What I cannot understand is the fealty to an entity that encourages division, overt racism and sexism. What I cannot understand is cheering a U.S. President who insists that his political opponents should be indicted and tried for treason. Isn’t jailing or killing political opponents what the worst banana republics do? What I don’t understand is how anyone can stick by a president who has no empathy for over two hundred thousand U.S. souls lost to the Coronovirus pandemic, with probably many thousands more to come. One could write a book (and many have) chronicling his mockery of handicaps, distaste for our service members who are killed or captured, shrugging his shoulders at Putin offering bounties on our soldiers, and how can we forget thumbing his nose at our essential allies.
So here I stand, leaning liberal on so many fronts. My credo is do what makes you happy, so long as you are not injuring another sentient being. Simple ideas, like what harm comes to you if the same sex couple down the street are married? (An out dated institution any way). What harm comes to you if a young victim of rape opts to abort the resultant fetus? By the way, all of the Christians hollering for religious freedom need to check out the Jewish take on abortion. Protect the mother first, the fetus is not a baby until it emerges from the womb.
Then there is the fate of our planet. You may be ready to welcome Armageddon with open arms, many of us are not. If God gave us this rich, lush, beautiful ball of land to live on, why would he/she want people like Trump gathering together to destroy this magnificent piece of work? Isn’t it our job, as many indigenous tribes believed, to care for our mother earth as she provides us with her riches?
Moderates on both sides used to be able to discuss ideas. For instance, I agree that gun ownership should be recognized as legal. However, I would like to see people with anger issues, and/or violence in their background, prevented from having guns. There could be civil and respectful conversations on just who should own a gun, what kind of weapons should be prevalent in the public sphere, and how sane a person should be to own them. There could be civil and respectful conversations on the damage to young girls carrying a fetus to term that was created through incest or violent rape, as opposed to an adult using it as birth control. There could be civil and respectful conversations.
There is much in the human species to decry. There is hatred, violence and bitter feuding. There also are “good hearts and gentle people” who try to reach for the “better angels” in themselves and others. Politics, elections,
are not games we play. They have a direct impact on individual lives and entire families. The policies made by those we elect can cost lives, livelihoods, and children’s futures. The impact can spread to the entire country, as witness the effect of mismanaging a pandemic.
So I am back to the beginning. I do not, cannot hate Republicans. I love my family, but at least one family member has blocked me because I insist on fact checking. I would dearly love to have direct discussions with family members, but they live hundreds of miles away and this kind of conversation is better face to face. I would ask my bird loving/watching brother how he will feel when there are few birds left to watch? According to Scientific American the bird population has declined by 29% since 1970, and is continuing to do so. I would ask my family member, who spent her employment years teaching and loving young children, if she truly believes the separation of thousands of children, babies to teens, from there parents, really helped our immigration problem. And was it humane? I would ask my other brother if he truly believed Democrats such as the Clinton’s, the Obama’s, Nancy Pelosi, and a bunch more the president has in his sights, should be indicted for treason? You, of all my family, know what treason is…you were a history teacher!
So I move onward for the time I have left and shed inward tears for my beloved country. I pray we will once more discover our journey as a nation is better together, with mutual (sometimes heated) discussions, than it is separated by hate and vitriol.
The truth is, our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions.