Let's get the big stuff out of the way first. I was pretty much a default Republican for the first part of my life but as time went on, I sort of slid over to the left a ways. Not far Jesse Jackson left but far enough that my measly one vote went pretty much to the Democratic side. It still does and will again this year. Not that I wouldn't consider changing it if there was anything remotely worth changing it to. There is not.
As a note to all the people who spend all day dreaming up horrible things to say about our sitting President...and posting them on my Facebook wall hoping I'll agree...here's your invitation to unfriend me.
I like the guy. I voted for him twice. I've been impressed with Mr. Obama and his First Family for their grace under pressure. With the most ugly, base and unpatriotic display I've ever seen going full tilt for eight years, they never flinched. With the awful things said about him, his wife, his kids and this country, I don't know how he did it. It was good to have a man in the office that actually spoke to me and inspired so many others. I have only respect for him.
Then there's the other side of the fence...
The problem for me is that the Republican side of the world has become a very, very strange place. It's like the church of one of my previous posts...unrecognizable. It's like a mirror with an orange tint that only reflects the things that are darkest in us. Fear, anger, hate, and more fear. Many of my friends are absolute believers in the reflection that looks back at them. That's where they are and I know nothing I can say will change it. They are still my friends but I can't accept that that image is me.
Unlike that face in the mirror, I am not afraid. I don't see conspiracy and evil in everything around me. I believe in a goodness in people that never makes the news or baits clicks. I might be naive and some would say foolish but I simply cannot believe that the entire world has gone as crazy as the CNN comments section. I've met so many truly wonderful people in my life, can there really be so many more who are so extraordinarily awful?
I hold to the hope that most people in the world are basically good instead of the right-wing platform that people (particularly ones who aren't white, old, male, rich or related to one of the above) are inherently bad. Fear drives it all. From guns to women to immigration to foreign policy. Fear, not hope is all they have.
Fear is called patriotism and hate waves a Confederate battle flag from the courthouse steps and laughs.
We have been told for months to be afraid of immigrants when in truth that's what every last one of us Caucasians are. We're warned to be afraid of minorities because...well because they're minorities so why not? What do they have to lose? We should definitely be afraid of OTC (Other Than Christian) religions because they're all trying to kill us right? We should be especially terrified of women and LGBT people because their mission is to pervert fine God-fearing Americans...like the Westboro Baptists or a fair percentage of the Catholic priesthood. Fear is everywhere.
Fear and his pal conspiracy have friends of mine building bunkers and stockpiling weapons and food. It's like "Duck and Cover" all over again except the danger isn't coming over the horizon, it lives down the block. The ever-lurking 'they' are waiting for the right moment to confiscate your guns, poison your food, 'eliminate' millions of us and check to see if we're peeing in the right bathroom. If everyone was armed, we could protect ourselves from it all! Or not.
In spite of all that, I am not afraid in my world without a gun. I don't live under the assumption that I need to be armed at all times to protect myself or my family. I'll likely be in trouble when 'they' unleash the zombie virus and the gangs of roving killers come to take my last ibuprofen but I've lived almost 60 years and never yet met the boogie-man skulking in the corners in a keffiyeh or BLM tee shirt. I've run into some pretty frightening characters in my travels but never really felt the need to shoot one. Maybe I'm just lucky and maybe someday I'll regret not having a weapon, but not today. Someday I'll tell you another story about that.
Conspiracy is the next rung on the fear ladder that I just can't climb. "There's something going on...", "People are saying...", "We've got to do something...", and oh yes; "Benghazi!"
Everything is an inside job; a false flag or a cover-up. The government or somebody else big and invisible runs everything. 'They' are everywhere spying, cheating, murdering, monitoring, controlling. HAARP, chemtrails, Monsanto, Big Oil, 'they' never sleep and you are a pathetic sheep if you don't follow Infowars and late-night AM radio to keep up. Did I mention Benghazi?
Our soldiers are heroic patriots when they serve overseas but we have to be ready to hold them off when they turn into puppets of the tyrannical government. The police are dedicated public servants until you have to defend your rights against the jack-booted thugs. The Feds are our brave and vigilant last line of defense against the terrorist threat but we may have to shoot it out with them when they come to haul you to the FEMA camp under a Walmart in Texas. The irony of those ideas is lost on so many.
Don't even get me started on how evolution is an anti-Christian plot and creationism is an equivalent idea either. Same as above...science is facts not beliefs. Evolution is a well-developed theory (look up the definition of theory sometime just for fun) not a hypothesis. If it doesn't work for you, that's fine but calling it a 'war on Christians' makes you look silly. Gravity is a theory proven with the same methods but nobody runs to the school board to burn the books when they fall down in the shower.
Here's another piece of news that sort of follows that slope. The United States is not, never has been and hopefully never will be an exclusively Christian club. As soon as you trot out conspiracies that Christianity is under attack and so we have to defend against other religions or lack thereof, in my estimation you automatically surrender your right to be an American.
The very same founders that wrote your beloved Second Amendment also wrote a couple of really great lines about freedom of religion and speech in the First Amendment. If you're going to rely on a document as indisputable to prove your point, you better be prepared to defend the parts you don't find agreeable as well.
George Washington may have cut down the tree but everyone these days would instead just pick the cherries off it until it died.
And last but not least...SEX! I'm just going to say that I find it absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably intolerable that a bunch of majority white, privileged, geriatric, philandering, multi-marriage, alleged Christians and wannabe Puritans can presume to legislate morality for whole segments of citizens that they obviously fear and despise based on their own twisted set of standards. Clear enough?
No senator, no congressman, no judge and certainly no clergyman has any business telling anyone what to do and how to behave in their bedroom or doctor's office. Women can take care of their own health without your morality plays thank you and my friends in the LGBT community would be pretty grateful if you quit trying to 'save' them and stay the hell out of the bathroom. Also anyone who buys into one of those insane 'Religious Freedom" bills is instantly off my vote list. Prejudice by any other name is still prejudice no matter how pretty you wrap it and tie the bow.
There's an old saying that the Religious Right...isn't. The truth is a terrible thing sometimes.
So for now that's where I am, at least until there's a Republican candidate that doesn't insult my intelligence every time he speaks like a cheap reality TV show. Or the party gets it's act together and decides there's more to this country than rich old white guys...or maybe, just maybe...there's a sea change and we never have to watch this Hunger Games travesty again.
And now onward...As for the Democratic side...there is enough weirdness there to go around as well but at the end of the day, I have to look at it from the point of view of who is going to run this show. I know, I've heard it...you hate her just because she's breathing the same air as you. I got that part. I however am not voting on hate or the lesser of two evils.
In reality (that's a place a certain network hasn't been in a while), she's is not taking your guns or even talking about it (why is it always about the guns?). Anyone who has even superficially read about Prohibition realizes what can happen when you screw around with Constitutional Amendments to legislate moral behavior. She's read it.
She's at least not planning a mass deportation of American citizens because they happen to be Muslim or Hispanic, I haven't heard any fairy tales about walls, religious tests for citizenship, murdering non-combatant families or suing a newspaper because they disagree. I did hear about the emails lest you think I'm ignoring that. Foolish...but criminally foolish? Look at it this way: if the party in control of the legislative branch that ran multiple investigations costing millions of dollars with the intent to discredit her couldn't do it, what more are you going to find...ever. The rest of them are buried somewhere with the orange man's tax returns.
Yep, she lies...like there's a monopoly on that among politicians. She's an insider...true...but at least you can take her out in public without being embarrassed. She, like the current occupant of the White House is well spoken and knowledgeable. I would sleep better at night too knowing the nuclear launch codes were in the hands of someone significantly cooler under pressure than the other candidate.
Lots of people I know are sick of the gridlock and politics as usual but if change is the only thing you're voting for then the change you might get is likely to be like burning down your house because you don't like the color of the kitchen. Effective to be sure but slightly over the top and ultimately a pretty bad idea.
As for the favorite rallying cry of the rabidly conservative..."Benghazi!"...I get that too. The bad news is that people who accept power also accept responsibility...often for other people's lives. The captain of every ship and the pilot in command of every airliner understands this and so too does the officer who orders soldiers into battle knowing some or all may not return. The basement generals of the internet do not.
The people who went to Libya were the best professionals in the business and to say that they didn't understand what they were getting into is an insult to their memory. Foreign service in an unstable post is a dangerous and messy business. Horrible things happened there and again, multiple investigations by a hostile congress were held. She accepted her responsibility as the officer in charge and no criminal or negligent behavior was ever found. Lessons were learned and things changed. That's the way of it. If a leader is to be questioned and second guessed for every decision, there will soon be no leaders, only committees that can spread the blame. We need leaders, not committees.
We also need someone who isn't actively destroying our livelihoods. The Democrats have not floated that miserable "Right To Work" idea anywhere. To me, a union guy, right to work means right to scab. You get all the benefits of union membership but none of the responsibility. If you want to work a non-union job, that's fine but when it's a union shop, join the union and support it with dues if nothing else. Expecting the union to represent you without joining is like crossing a picket line to me. You're using the work and sacrifice of others to benefit the company. Right to work is nothing but union busting with a prettier name just like Religious Freedom laws are discrimination with a fancier label. A certain Republican is in favor of Right to Work laws in all 50 states. I cannot understand why a union member would support that. Oh wait a minute...they're not taking my guns. Yeah that's it.
And there it is...at the end of all this, I'm going to vote Democratic this year. Maybe even across the board just because I can't believe that the Republicans I used to know have trotted out yet another dismal excuse for a candidate. Maybe some year they'll pull it together and show me someone who isn't an embarrassment. Someone who actually has a plan or two. Someone who doesn't ridicule half the population just to get a round of cheers. Someone I could actually put some hope in.
Someone who believes like I do that not only was America great before, but America and all Americans are great right now and can only get better.