I still remember the day I found out I wasn’t a Democrat like it was this morning.
It was during a 5th grade U.S. History lesson. I was usually busy staring out the nearest window—watching the grass grow or something equally as interesting—but that day, my teacher was talking about the various political parties, like the Whigs and Free Soil Party.
I was a little embarrassed to raise my hand at first, but I finally got up the nerve to ask, “What’s the difference between a Republican and a Democrat.”
The teacher took a second to think it over (after all, it’s not the easiest thing to put into terms a 5th grader would understand), and said, “Well, there are a lot of things that make a person one or the other. But, basically, Democrats believe in using the power of the government to help people, and Republicans think we should be able to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.”
There’s probably a better definition out there than that, but that was good enough for me. So just like that, I was a Republican.
And sure, I’ll admit it. At first, like most kids, I was politically blind, deaf and dumb—any Democrat was bad, all Republicans were good. But can you really blame me? You couldn’t ask a 10-year-old to spell politics correctly, much less know anything about the subject. That, and at least I stopped at an early age, unlike the majority of the U.S.
Still, the more I looked into it, the more I liked my Republican Party, too. I liked the idea of states’ rights, “that government is best which governs least”, and just about everything Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the party, stood for and against.
But like many former Republicans, I lost the faith thanks to President Junior. First was the “they hate our freedom” thing (first uttered by Bush only 9 days after 9/11). I see two problems with that response: 1) it sounded like an answer from a kindergartener, not the most powerful man in the world, and 2) according to Bin Laden’s tapes, Bush was way off.
When it comes to George Bush, I, like anybody who lived through his reign, could go on for days. There’s the Patriot Act, Iraq, stem cell research, waving at Stevie Wonder…you get the picture. So, when it was my turn to vote for the first time, I threw my hat on the ground went with Kerry— I still don’t know why (besides the fact that he wasn’t Bush).
But can you blame me for not being a Republican anymore? Just take a look at some of the Republican figureheads. There’s Sarah Palin, who gets stumped by real mindbenders like “What do you read?”, and there’s Michael Steele, who can’t leave his house without being justifiably criticized by the political left and right.
And who can forget the tea partiers? Party affiliation aside, shouldn’t we all be embarrassed by these frightening people? After all, when tea partiers carry around signs like “Obama is the Devel”, they’re not exactly playing around with metaphors.
I’ll stop here because there’s literally thousands of examples that constantly fuel my hatred for the Republican Party, but—don’t get me wrong—the reason for all of my ranting is not to rile up any Republican readers. After all, they’re just going with their guts, and they, too, want exactly what we all want: the best for this country.
All I really want is a Republican Party I can really get behind—one that doesn’t seem to only care about protecting what’s left in their wallets and Bibles— or, at the very least, respect. Because, when it comes to the future of this country, settling for mediocrity is nothing but unacceptable and lazy.
Is that too much to ask? Probably.