The first vote I ever cast was for Ronald Reagan as president.
I admired the way Reagan inspired hope and optimism about the future, as did many others given how lopsided was his win that year.
I voted for George H.W. Bush, twice. I voted for Bob Dole and for George W. Bush (again, twice).
And I was a strong supporter of John McCain, a man I always admired. When he named Sarah Palin as his running mate, I held my nose and voted for him anyway.
That was the last Republican vote I’ve cast.
So why would a lifetime Republican change parties? I argue that I didn’t change, it was the party that changed around me.
The 2008 election was a big year for me. Having recently left the newspaper business I felt free to finally invest some time in politics. I never put a bumper sticker on a car, or had a sign in my yard. I was a journalist — it would have been inappropriate.
But this time I could get involved. I was at the precinct caucus and became a delegate to the county convention. I really got to mingle and be involved with the party. And it shocked me.
At the precinct caucus, we were going over proposed changes to the Texas GOP platform. Among the items were proposals that we would oppose the formation of an EU-style currency for the Americas, and oppose the “stationing of UN Troops” on U.S. soil. I argued that such items made us look stupid, since both were impossible. Another gentleman there, who had a masters degree in international relations from Georgetown, said the same thing.
We were voted down because, “Well, you never know.”
I can’t tell you how often I hear that phrase when people are trying to support ludicrous proposals. “Well, you never know.”
That same year, we had a candidate for district attorney who was extremely qualified and focused on making needed changes. She lost to a Tea Party-backed candidate with no idea how to be a DA. Why would her opinion on national issues matter? “Well, you never know.”
It was then I realized how much the GOP had become a group that not only tolerated but supported disinformation, anger and fear as a means to motivate the base. It always existed, in both parties, but this was next-level stuff.
Over the past few years, the GOP has steadily abandoned reason in favor of driving its base wild with fear and anger to remain in power. They have put party over country countless times.
I don’t regret my early votes for president. I regret that there is no longer a Republican worthy of my vote.
Ted Cruz? C’mon, the guy went meekly back to curry favor from Donald Trump after the man had insulted his wife and accused his dad of being involved with JFK’s assassination. No Texan I know would do that. John McCain bowed to pressure when he chose Palin instead of reaching out to his longtime friend Joseph Lieberman, a move that would have helped avert the polarized mess we’re in now. He will never hold the respect he once did from me.
Is there a Reagan on the Republican side?
Today, I occasionally attend the local Democratic Party meeting. Overall, the mood is positive and the tone respectful. The people are intelligent and make salient points when debating issues.
Not once has anyone said, “Well, you never know.”
That’s why I switched parties. I suspect if all Republicans really took stock of their party and honestly asked themselves if it accurately reflects their views and morals, I would have plenty of company.