A Healthy Independent Streak

Creative Commons photo by Theresa Thompson

Like most of my fellow Federalist 10 bloggers, I’ve been in love with politics for a large portion of my life. I was reading Time magazine in junior high school (which might explain my lack of a love life in junior high and most of high school).

That passion for politics has followed me all of my life, enough for me to earn two college degrees in the field. And, until recently, that passion had channeled itself into a particular party. I won’t name that party, not because I am ashamed, but because as a political science professor, I’ve always been more interested in helping students understand what they believe than convincing them that what I believe is right. I am proud of my values, I’m just not very loud about them outside my own home.

But rest assured, for those who know me well and share my views, I am happy to wax political about where I think our country should be headed and the ideals that should guide us along that path. I’ve made friends of policy makers in my party of preference, I’ve worked partisan and non-partisan campaigns for people I believe in and some have even suggested I run for office myself.

None of this is to brag, because while my plans may be large, my list of accomplishments in this arena is a bit meager to date. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because if I were a party loyalist, I doubt I would have had the courage to do what I did last year—change my party registration. But, as President Ronald Reagan once said of the Democrats, I didn’t leave my party. My party left me. I know exactly how he feels.

I have voted for my party’s nominees, with an odd exception here or there, ever since I have been old enough to cast a ballot. There have been some times when I held my nose as I poked out a chad or inked a dot, but I have backed the guy or gal running for that seat because they supported, for the most part, the principles I also espoused. I even donated to candidates a couple of times, but I spent only what I would for dinner at my favorite, fast-casual Chinese restaurant and always for candidates who had early buzz but fizzled out. In short, if you’re at the racetrack and want some advice about a “sure thing” in the 5th, I’m not the guy to ask.

Then the election of 2016 was held and all that was thrown out the window. The parties, driven by a twin cocktail of cowardice and avarice, avoided the people who actually supported the core of their party’s positions and instead went with the safe choice for the Democrats and the attention-demanding one for the Republicans. Rejected were the true believers, such as senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (who didn’t even run) on the left and Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio on the right. It was so bad that people were hoping for a fight on the floor of both conventions (either political or physical would have been fine). The Libertarians were looking fairly attractive, the Green Party was winning more support than normal and even outsider Evan McMullin picked up one out of five vote in Utah.

In a surprise result, the Hairdo beat the Pant Suit and now we are living with the consequences of said results. As we speak, Donald Trump, Jr., is under fire from all sides, Republicans included, for taking a very controversial meeting with the Russians. Even among former presidents, the criticisms are vague, but distinctly bipartisan. Even former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough has had enough.

You know it’s bad when we’re using hurricane terminology to describe the trouble and fantasizing about how great a Hillary administration would have been (like the Republicans acted much better during President Obama’s administration).

And with all of the hullaballoo about the White House conducting audio-only press briefings, it’s no wonder the new motto of the Washington Post is “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.

Will I return to the single-letter designation with the next election cycle, assuming the parties repair their rectal-cranial inversion (as a friend of mine would call it)? I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Independence seems to have its own virtues.

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