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Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Political Party Parting Shots

In 1992, I turned 18 in Lafayette, Colorado.  I had just graduated from Centaurus High School with the one of the most impressive groups of people I have ever been associated with.  And one of the first things I did?  Not a lottery ticket, not Selective Service registration and certainly no cigarette buying.  No – I registered to vote; as a Republican.  Since then, I’ve registered in many different cities and states, but always with the same party – the Grand Ol’ Party.  But, after 22 years, I’m finally ready to re-pick sides – by not picking a side at all.  The typical American starts as a liberal Democrat and ages into being a conservative Republican.  After all, aren’t we all supposed to be more tolerant in our youth than our old age?  But after being raised in a “red state” family, and then leaving for the military, college and then law school – I’ve ended up taking the opposite route.  But it turns out the grass isn’t any greener on the other side.  In fact, it’s exactly the same shade of bulls&%t.  And so, in deference to my very first trip to the voting booth without an easy way to pick all the winners, here are 3 reasons I’m leaving the Republican Party … and not joining another one:

1.  Haters Gonna Hate.  The only thing Republicans used to hate was taxes.  It did seem unfair that money was being taken out of my check, in addition to the sales tax I was paying – and I didn’t appear to be getting much bang for my buck.  After all, the government hadn’t stepped up to help me go the colleges I wanted to, and I had the same affection for the police as your average member of NWA.  But while the GOP still hates taxes – the new GOP hate goes much farther and wider.  To be a “real” Republican these days you have to hate (in no particular order): African Americans, Latino Americans, immigrants, anyone in the LGBT community, scientists, atheists, Muslims, college graduates, climate change advocates, Democrats, gun violence activists, Planned Parenthood, unmarried adults without children and essentially anyone who isn’t a member of a traditional, white, nuclear, Christian family.  Look, I’m all about some hate – especially when it comes to sports, but this much hate is like a part-time job.  I’m not even sure how to keep track of who to hate, let alone why.  Maybe that’s why the modern day GOP doesn’t bother with, you know, reasons to hate all these people.  Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to hate someone – I’m going to need a reason.  Besides, when you’re letting hillbillies and rednecks decide what “normal” is – it’s only a matter of time until you don’t make the cut.

2.  Tyranny of the Ignorant.  The Republican archetype I grew up with was Alex P. Keaton.  My family watched Family Ties like it was the news – and I saw myself in Michael J. Fox’s suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying overachieving outcast.  He was short on cool and long on disdain for his parents and sisters.  He was a flag-waving Reagan apologist and was identified by his intelligence and education.  He confirmed my belief that we should be led by the smartest and best-informed among us – and he made being a young Republican an obvious and easy choice.  But since then, the GOP has become the party of celebrated ignorance and fear of information.  Rather than advocating higher education and academic excellence, the current GOP holds that all the important things you need to know you either (a) know already or (b) can find in the Bible.  This is the political party that has given us the Creation Museum (and in case you haven’t lost all hope for humanity, please go check that out).  Republicans don’t just dislike the educated, they distrust and fear them.  It is widely believed that a college education includes some sort of shadow liberal indoctrination – despite the fact that most college students spend their free time trying to chemically alter their minds and/or see each other naked.  The reality is that getting educated means rejecting most of the modern conservative platform – and if I were them, I’d be afraid of that, too. 

3.  Oh, My God.  The only redeeming quality of the millennial generation to date has been their widespread rejection of traditional religious doctrines – many before they get to college.  The ubiquitous nature of modern information has made indoctrination into mysticism exponentially more difficult – and the original purpose of religion, to explain the inexplicable – has become increasingly less necessary in a world with Wikipedia.  Connectivity has made our culture global, and hating, mistrusting or dehumanizing those who simply believe differently (the central tenet of most religions – no matter what they tell you) makes a lot less sense when you can see beyond the city limits of your hometown.  I have believed in the wisdom of the separation of church and state since the first time I heard it – and I believe in it a little more each day.  I’m not a Christian.  I’m not even religious.  In fact, I’m an atheist, and it’s been made clear to me that “my kind” is unwelcome in modern GOP ideology.  Seemingly overnight, the Republican party became a euphemism for the Christian Party – and we are force fed inaccurate truisms like “the United States is a Christian nation” (no it’s not) and “the Founding Fathers were Christians” (no they weren’t).  The best reason to leave is the biggest change the party made – because as history has demonstrated over and over again, those who use divinity to derive influence are those destined to do the most evil – and I’ve got enough evil to deal with (that’s for you all my ex-girlfriends – I told you I’d get you into one of these).]     

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Before the DNC starts celebrating another GOP refugee joining their ranks, please know that I’m not “switching sides.”  The DNC is just as broken, lost and dysfunctional as the GOP.  The only difference between them is that one hasn’t betrayed me.  But my true disappointment lies in not being able to find a political party at all.  We have chased the thinkers out to islands, gated communities and otherwise polite exile.  We have reduced ourselves, at every turn, to the least common denominator – accommodating even the most unreasonable and misguided amongst us, because each vote only counts as one – no matter how much or how little that person knows or cares.  It makes sense, after all - it’s far simpler (and less expensive) to influence the stupid than people who will actually think about what you’re saying.  But for me, I’d rather be a thinker than anything else.  And since that label is apparently incompatible with either of the popular affiliation options, I’m going to sit that decision out.  Because, democracy notwithstanding, politics and parties only really work if you don't invite everyone.     

3 comments:

Glenn Truitt said...

BONUS #4!!!

4. La La La La La Laaaaa. When I was a kid, if there was something I didn’t want to hear, I stuck my fingers in my ears, closed my eyes and sang myself a loud and silly song… one that usually had a lot of “la”s in it. As I got a little older, I figured out how to not listen without these theatrics – and soon I had mastered the art of hearing without listening. But as I got even older, I realized that not listening to what other people were saying – especially those that disagreed with me – was really limiting my ability to challenge what they were saying. The art of disagreement requires listening and understanding – because you can’t truly dismantle something until you know how it fits together. But a funny thing happens when you start to listen – even if you’re doing so with a mind to disagree – you sometimes hear something that changes your mind. The misbegotten political notion that change is weakness is the central failure of the modern conservative. I am opinionated, outspoken and stubborn – and yet, I have had my mind changed in too many ways to count. I know when to stop listening – and it’s not when I disagree, it’s when it stops making sense. Trying to censor, silence or shout down those who disagree with you is the hallmark of weakness. We didn’t used to need our own news channel so we would never have to hear an opposing viewpoint – we knew enough about we were and what we believed to be in a crowd of Democrats and still be just fine. I suspect that nowadays, that same scene would almost certainly be a brawl, and perhaps, quite literally, a murder.

Eric said...

Congratulations!!
www.lp.org

Alright, not the cure for the world's evils that they'd like to think they are, but seriously at least they stick to base principles despite that being a recipe for abject political failure.

Katrina McCullough said...

I think this pretty much sums up my dislikes of the GOP as well. I would always say I'm half and half, but if you put a gun to my head I'd always pick Democrat. And a BIG part of that is the religious aspect. As a non-religious unmarried mother living in sin with her boyfriend, I have a feeling that party would reject me right back. I had never heard of the Creation Museum and now I kind of want to go home and cry all day long. I think that may even be worse than the existence of Sarah Palin... Anyway - Glad you saw the light - even if you didn't go full Democrat... that's ok. Just seeing the GOP for who they are, that's good enough! :-)

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