In 1988 when I voted for George H. W. Bush for president, there was nothing unusual about it. From the time I turned 21, I had always voted Republican. But, after he broke his promise not to raise taxes and the country was in the midst of a recession, I reconsidered my position in 1992.
As Bush floundered, the brilliant and charismatic campaign and message of William Jefferson Clinton hit the scene and I voted for my first Democrat.
During the next eight years, I watched how President Clinton oversaw the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history; how the nation enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in decades; how the home ownership rate grew to the highest it's ever been in the country's history; how he improved economic equality that led to a strong economy and a surplus federal budget. Though his tenure was plagued with scandals and impeachment, it is important to remember, he was acquitted of all charges.
In 1996, I still didn't consider myself a Democrat, even though I voted to reelect Clinton. I was an Independent who voted for the best person. But, when the Republican Party nominated George W. Bush in 2000...I began to think of myself as a Democrat.
Living in Texas, I saw Bush's policies and ignorance first hand. I could foresee many problems the country would face if he was elected and, unfortunately, he didn't prove me wrong. Against strong counsel from his own financial advisors, he cut taxes while starting two wars; something no other president had ever done. These decisions began the immeasurable damage to our country that would take decades to recover from.
He took a substantial surplus, and turned it into a huge deficit; he changed America's standing in the world, by trying to force his views on other cultures; he chose to invade Iraq first, rather than Afghanistan, allowing Osama bin Laden to continue his reign of terrorism for years; he destabilized the Middle East which led to more insurgents. Bush and Cheney did not listen to Americans or our Allies and millions of lives were lost.
As the neocons continually promote just one more war to spread democracy, I believe we should fix America's democracy first before we try to change the cultures of other countries to mirror our own.
Near the end of Bush's disastrous two-term Presidency, it was an easy decision for me to vote for Obama over McCain. But, it was the creation of the Tea Party facet of the Republican Party in 2010 that turned me into a loyal Democrat, rather than an Independent. I don't feel I abandoned the Republican Party but, I do feel the Republican Party abandoned me. Their emerging views on government, religion, women's rights, workers' rights, income inequality, violence against women, equal pay for women, minorities' voting rights, made me move away from these radical ideologues as quickly as possible.
In 2014, the Republican Party is now split between the old GOP idealists and the new GOP obstructionists; between those who know their message is losing voters and want to change it and, those who would rather suppress and buy the vote, than change the message. The GOP no longer stands for Grand Old Party, but for Greedy Old Plutocrats.
Democrats must rally their base. There are many smart and educated Republicans who believe their Party's lies, support their Party's positions and who will come out to vote Republican at any cost. In America that is their prerogative. But, it is up to the rest of us to make sure these extremists are defeated in 2014, in 2016 and beyond. It is critical to this country's future, maybe more than any other election in our history that you vote in November. Choosing not to vote because you think your vote doesn't matter is just plain wrong. I worry that if people do not stand up for what they believe in, and vote, then our future right to vote may vanish.
I support the Democratic message because I'm for job creation, rather than obstructionism. I support healthcare for all, rather than repealing the ACA with no alternative plan. I think we should keep the safety net for those who need it and have paid into it all their lives. I support Social Security, and believe the system could be solvent for years if the income cap was removed and people paid into the system for every pay check they received. And unlike many Republican Governors, I also support Medicaid expansion which saves lives, adds billions in federal funds, and creates jobs.
I'm for keeping America safe and strong, but not for sending Americans into harm's way when it isn't necessary. I'm for helping veterans when they return from serving our country, rather than cutting their benefits. I'm for lowering Congressional pay and perks, so that elected officials' jobs aren't about becoming millionaires, but rather are about their responsibility to serve their constituents and their country.
I believe in food stamps for the hungry, but not subsidies to big agricultural firms. I believe in healthy school lunches for our children, but not Republican supported junk food lobbyists. I believe in putting people to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and bridges, rather than blocking the vote on job development, and asking "where are the jobs?" I believe in energy independence, but not at a cost to our society and way of life. I believe we should do something about man-made climate change, not deny it exists. I believe we should leave America, and the planet, a better place for my kids and my grandkids, rather than a worse place.
I'm for easy to vote elections, rather than designing restrictions that make it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote. I'm for term limits for all elected officials, rather than lifetime politicians. In other words, I'm for democracy...a democracy that is quickly diminishing under the current Republican leadership.