I have a weird mind. Most folks notice this right off the bat; some, it takes a while, but it’s true. My mind is one of those that sweeps everything up in it’s path like an Oreck Vacuum Cleaner from Hell and stores all that useless minutiae away for prolonged periods, only to regurgitate them days, months, or even years later where I wonder about them.
Of course, it’s a cool talent to have when you’re getting a college degree at 45 years old. And it makes me almost unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit as well (My wife will not play Trivial Pursuit with me; if I’m on the other team they’ll win; if I’m on her team, they never get a chance to answer any questions.)
But back to my title subject: I’m a closet Democrat from a family of staunch Republicans. My uncle (and life role-model) was the precinct captain and local organizer for the Republican Party in my hometown in Indiana for years and years until his death. My other uncle is a millworker at a local steel mill, which tends to predispose him to being more of a Democrat than a Republican. But all things considered, I tend to remember Winston Churchill’s comment that “If you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart; If you’re not a conservative by forty, you have no head.” I think that’s true, in my case I think it’s less a matter of my own position changing. Rather, I think the times have left me behind.
I remember the old Democrats like Hubert Humphrey (who ran against Richard Nixon for President in 1968). I remember the Harry Trumans; the John Kennedys; even the Lyndon Johnsons. These were Democrats who were not afraid to wave the flag, to pledge allegiance to the flag, and to sit down at the table to work out a compromise. These were men who would take a stand and stick with their position. They might be willing to concede the points of their opponents sometimes, but so would their opponents do also.
Yet something happened with the 1972 election. George McGovern was the most liberal man of a liberal party; a man who had little to nothing in common with the Trumans, Johnsons, or Humphreys. Nominated to appeal to the anarchist “youth vote” that had been terrorizing campuses for the previous 5 years, McGovern was the harbinger of a new, darker Democrat party. Glenn Beck (www.glennbeck.com) said on his morning radio show this morning, ‘How are we supposed to agree on anything if we don’t even agree on the truth?” Although that’s a startlingly simple thing, it goes so much to the root of what’s wrong with politics, let alone society, today.
We can’t have simple discussions or debates any more. Politics becomes personal invective fairly quickly. The Harold Ickes, Joe Lockharts, the Rahm Emanuels, and James Carvilles of the world know how to dissemble and go right for the jugular. It’s like debating a doberman; you know you’re going to be bitten and tired by the end of it.
Very depressing, indeed.
And the candidates the Democrats field– give me a break. George McGovern was so far left he had to look left just to see over his right shoulder. And while I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976, the man is just embarrassing anymore. His comment recently that the upcoming elections “some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing” is just ludicrous. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,133651,00.html) What is he talking about? Fair Elections? This is the United States of America, bubba. We **Invented** free and honest elections here. (And, with the possible exception of Chicago, continue to do it to this day). The facade of the Sunday-school teaching peanut farmer has worn thin, Jimmy. Please take your Nobel Peace Prize and be quiet.
That’s just sad. I used to like and respect Jimmy Carter; even when he almost completely screwed up both foreign and domestic policy. I remember buying my first new car (a 1981 Nissan 210 Hatchback — remember that one, anyone?) I paid 18.9% interest on that car with **good** credit; my friend down the hall in the barracks from me paid 25.6% interest on his truck with NO credit. That was all due to the Prime rate being so high, a correlation of the poor state of the economy at the time. The Desert One debacle to rescue the hostages. The second Gasoline Crisis — remember the lines at the pumps and the talk of ration books?
Even through all that I still believed Jimmy Carter was just incompetent, but meant well. Now, I’m doubtful.
And I wonder if anyone else has noticed . . . . that John F. Kerry is not exactly the brightest bulb in the pack. He just doesn’t seem to understand the common people, does he?
Oh, there’s a few Democrats I still admire. Joe Lieberman comes to mind. Thomas Jefferson, probably; but he’s dead.. Zell Miller, certainly. But it’s hard to find a Democrat still in national politics that doesn’t have a taint about them. Teddy Kennedy? Chappaquiddick. Joe Biden of Maryland Plagiarist. Tom Harkin of Iowa? Lied about his service record. Jesse Jackson? Well, after you peel away the patina of the mistresses, the inability to account for funds donated to the PUSH/Rainbow Coalition, and the strong-arm tactics used to elect his son . . . . whatcha got left?
Donâ€™t even think about Bill or Hillary. Donâ€™t get me started.
So it was that I started wondering to myself; Why do I even continue to register as a Democrat? I still considered myself a Reagan Democrat, but I find myself farther and farther away from my party as days go by. Then President Reagan, a man who I deeply admired, died this June.
So while it was a little sad to consider changing my registration from Democrat to Republican, it was no single thing that triggered the change.
Just the memory of men I admired, long gone, but all of whom would be ashamed of “politics-as-usual” today.