44 years a Republican, 1 year an Independent, today I’m joining the Democratic Party
This was not an easy decision to make. Politics is like one’s religion, you just don’t change it unless you have a moment of clarity and realize you are on the wrong path. My family’s involvement in the GOP goes all the way back to the mid-1850s and the start of the GOP in Illinois.
My Mother’s family helped organize the GOP in Illinois. They were opposed to one human being owning another human being as chattel. They found slavery morally repugnant and were zealots in advocating its demise. My family has been GOP blue-blood.
That is how far back my roots run in the GOP. I have no roots in the Democratic Party. However, it is time for me to lay some down.
There are things I don’t like about the Democratic Party. There are people in the Democratic Party I dislike as much as I dislike Donald Trump. So, why not remain independent? There is a good reason for that.
In America, if you want to bring about change, if you want to be an agent of change and not a voice in the wilderness you must belong to one of one of the two political parties. I was a party faithful to the GOP. I often turned my nose up and voted for the GOP nominee no matter what. Some were good men and women, in fact, outstanding men and women. Others were as dumb as a rock and were still fighting the Civil War. I voted for them anyway.
Donald Trump and Bruce Rauner are the two men who drove this decision for me. They are twins. Rauner is Trump in a more presentable form. He is careful to not give to Trump, or mention his name because he knows it is the kiss of death in Illinois to support Trump. Bruce Rauner betrayed me. I worked to help elect him in 2014 and he lied to me. He is as corrupt as any Governor we have ever had.
Trump loves to attack his critics and is particularly harsh on Republicans who don’t kiss his ring. Have you noticed that Trump has not skewered Rauner for his lack of PUBLIC support for Trump? Curious, don’t you think? He will criticize Chicago, he will criticize the Mayor, he will beat up on everyone except two in Illinois: Fellow billionaire and ideological twin Bruce Rauner, and Speaker Mike Madigan. Why Madigan? You might want to look at whose law firm handles tax matters for the Trump Tower in Chicago.
Why I left the GOP:
Hate and paranoia have become an ideological principle in the GOP. The common view is the poor are thieves and stealing taxpayer’s money. They point to social programs as having failed to end poverty. Social programs are not designed to end poverty. They are designed to keep you alive while an individual tries to find another pathway in life.
They hate education. Their steadfast crusade to end public education, to deny it money is an attack on our future. I went to public schools, including a public university. I received a good education, from dedicated teachers and professors. That should be preserved and not torn to shreds.
They are trade protectionists and isolationists. This is the final betrayal of Ronald Reagan.
They blame the victims. In fact, they have a false victimhood that they are actually the victims of the poor. They point to a mother on food stamps with an iPhone in her hand as “evidence” of theft. Did they ever stop to think that maybe a family member in better circumstances gave her that iPhone?
With competition, which the GOP claim is a very conservative idea, the prices on smartphones have dropped dramatically along with the cost of service. Why shouldn’t a poor person have access to the rest of the world? Their view that I’ve read a hundred times if I have read it once. The resentment of the poor only continues the poverty and despair of the poor.
The GOP hates the poor. They are only interested in self. Everything with the GOP today is “I.” There is no “we” in their dialogue. In the GOP rant about the poor, they go out of their way to admonish the poor for being poor. They treat them without dignity and try to destroy all hope for the poor.
The GOP is xenophobic. The day we lose the melting pot is the day we lose America. I wrote about that yesterday which you can read by clicking here.
Education is the key to ending poverty. See my comment above about the GOP views on education.
The GOP is overtly racist and unapologetic for it. They can talk about how much they love Israel but that doesn’t stop them from being anti-semitic. They love the Jews “over there,” but the Jews under their very noses? Not so much. This week, I have been told I am a kike which is not a term of endearment and told there is an oven with my name on it. I belong in an oven because I don’t agree with conservatives. That sums up today’s GOP.
Senator Toi Hutchinson, a Democratic State Senator has been called vile names, and references to her death have been common. I was told by a member of the GOP just today that “that’s just average citizens voicing an opinion.” You can read his comment by clicking this link, then read the comments at the bottom of the article. A day after publication, I’m still getting hate mail.
Why I’m joining the Democratic Party:
I am opposed to racism. I abhor racism, bigotry, and antisemitism. It is not “just an opinion” by “average citizens.” It is a vile practice that is to be stood against whenever, and wherever it happens. The GOP is giving safe haven to the racists who flocked to the party after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Based on a principle of human dignity, the Democratic Party said goodbye to the racists and they ran into the outstretched arms of the GOP.
The Democratic Party may not agree, but they listen. The far left is rigid and dogmatic but the average Democrat may not agree with you but they will listen to what you have to say. I am pro-business, and so is the Democratic Party. It is now the home of Free Trade. The GOP is now the home of trade protectionism.
The Democratic Party does not hate science. They recognize throwing what we throw in the air and water will kill us all eventually. Richard Nixon knew that too which is why he pushed for and signed into law the Clean Air and established the EPA. As a result, the Great Lakes are no longer in danger of catching on fire as they were in the 60s and 70s. There are no more killer smogs that took lives. For younger Republicans google killer smog and see what we used to contend with. It was a problem Richard Nixon fixed, and now you are trying to break it again.
The Democratic Party supports collective bargaining. I can’t say I am in love with Unions, I am not in love with them. However, I am in love with the Constitution of the USA and collective bargaining is a right under the First Amendment of the Constitution. I support that right for the same reason I support the right to own a firearm under the Second Amendment of the Constitution. If we find a way of end-running any Amendment then we have just made the Constitution a meaningless document.
The Democratic Party believes everyone is entitled to dignity. The GOP is wrong on Healthcare along with nearly all social issues. Their proposals strip the poor, the elderly, and minorities of basic human dignity.
This was not an easy step. In the 80s, I was an advocate of trickle-down economics as the solution to our economic ills. It is hard to admit I was wrong. The theory sounds nice, but as evidence has shown, it is a myth. Educated Republicans understand income distribution is out of whack and are seeking ways of correcting the ill. They are running up against the rank ignorance brought into the party and exploited by the party.
I spoke with a relative who is still solid GOP and he acknowledged all my concerns as being factual. He asked me to stay in the party and fight for its soul. There is nothing left to fight for. His comment about a soul was interesting. That is the problem with the GOP. It has lost its soul.
It has no compassion, it has no empathy, it is just a collection of self-centered individuals who care about nothing outside of their own lives. There is not a bigger picture, there is only self-absorption with the GOP.
I’ll pass on the GOP. As far as I am concerned, write its eulogy.
Will I be welcomed into the Democratic Party with open arms? That is highly doubtful. Like the GOP, they are wary and suspicious of anyone who was not born into the party. I won’t be trusted, I won’t be given party responsibilities or jobs as I was with the GOP. What I do care about is I will have a voice in the debate. As a member of the party, they can’t exclude me. My voice will be heard. From what I have experienced so far, excluding people is a GOP move for control and not something the Democrats tend to do.
I am now a Democrat. As I look at the words, there is a tinge of remorse and sadness. Sad because of what the GOP that I spent a lifetime serving has become. As I look at the words, I also realize I have recaptured my soul. That is not a statement the GOP can truthfully make.
I pray they can recapture it one day, but I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime. You have to have empathy to have a soul.
[Editor’s note: this article was first published on Chicago Now in July 2017]