Friday, October 17, 2008

How I Became a Democrat

I suppose growing up during the Reagan years was what led me to side with the Republicans in the fall of ’88. If I’d been born a week earlier, I could’ve voted in that election, but alas, my conception was delayed. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed coming home from school that fall and watching Inside Politics 88 on CNN (this was during the glory days of Bernard Shaw).

I remember the outcry from Bush Senior’s camp that Michael Dukakis allowed a felon (Willie Horton) to be released who subsequently murdered a woman. I recall how ridiculous Dukakis looked in that armored tank with a helmet on. I remember how Dukakis’ camp tried to paint Bush as a wimp and made fun of Bush’s VP pick, Dan Quayle (there's no doubt he was a bad choice).

(anyone notice any parallels between the magazine cover above and what's going on with Palin, another Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, exactly 20 years later?)

Despite this, if I could’ve cast a ballot that November, it woulda been for Dubya, oops, I mean George H.W.

In the early 90's, H.W. had phenomenal approval ratings as victory was won in the Persian Gulf War and Bush proved himself to be a tough cookie, well, at least as tough as a Fudge Stripe, anyway.

When ’92 came around, I was in college and still a fan of Bush. My mom liked Perot, but I looked forward to helping H.W. get re-elected. There was a decent amount of commotion on campus for Bill Clinton, but I can’t say I was won over. I remember going with my mom to vote for the first time at Winona’s City Hall. It felt good and actually rivaled eating at Friday’s, not really, but it was still cool. I admit to being a bit disappointed when Clinton won, but my view softened as he gradually won me over with his optimism and hot wife. I can remember how happy many of the students were in one of my classes the day after the election.

Time went by and I began to see the Democratic side more clearly: wanting to aid the poor, to provide affordable health care for all, not giving in to corporations and special interests. His optimism was quite catching and I wound up being quite pleased that he was President. So much so that in ’96, there wasn’t any doubt who I would be voting for. My future life partner and I headed to one of Winona’s fire stations to cast our votes for Bill on Election Day. I was working at Radio Shack at the time and remember one of the guys employed there said he planned to vote for Bob Dole. This other employee asked, “Why?”, and the man responded, “I just want Clinton outta there”. I thought to myself, “Is this guy in league with big business? Is he wanting to reverse Roe v Wade? Is he threatened by Hill?” Whatever the case, the country was in great shape and Bill was easily re-elected.

Course Monica broke a couple years later, but nobody’s perfect, right. At least Bill didn’t make mincemeat of habeas corpus, mislead the country into war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11,

lie about a Bin Laden/Saddam connection, mislead America about the real cost of war, foster an environment of torture at Abu Gharib and Guatanamo, line Halliburton’s pockets in Afghanistan and Iraq with fat no-bid contracts, under-man and under-equip our armed forces in Iraq, resulting in unnecessary death and injuries, shun the Kyoto Treaty, lie about the effects of man-made pollutants on the environment to support corporate pals, give huge cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers, bitterly divide the nation along religious, party and sexual preference lines, have dreadful energy policies that led to record gas and oil prices, preside over the largest debt in U.S. history, have a colossal failure of preparedness, rescue and relief during Hurricane Katrina, foster a culture of corruption among GOP and top leadership (Tom Delay, etc), go it alone as the world's view of the U.S. declined, spy on Americans, and helplessly watch as the real estate market went up in flames. There are many others, but I want to get some exercise in while the night’s still young.

In '00 and '04, I was a good Dem and voted for Gore and Kerry. Though they didn’t win, I can say I played a small part in Minnesota going blue both years. Now as the election of 08 looms, will I vote for the new kid on the block, Obama, or the old guy who picked a lightweight as his VP?


Screw it. I'm just gonna ask my Magic 8-ball.


houstonmacbro said...

Funny, I am not a supporter of either candidate, but as I wrote yesterday on another blog, this election (for me) is not about which candidate I like and relate to the most, but which candidate is the lease palatable for this country.

For me the vote is clear.

Stephanie said...

I couldn't agree with you more, macbro! You ARE referring to writing-in Ron Paul, right?

*ducks to avoid being hit by flying tomatoes* ;) lol

I'll go back to my little hole in the internet now! Have a great weekend!!!


houstonmacbro said...

Stephanie, I am not much for writing (my penmanship is atrocious), but I do not really know a lot about Ron Paul. I have heard some glowing and not so glowing things about him as well.

Mags said...

I often consult my magic 8 ball for all of life's difficult decisions. :) Glad you've made it to our side. LOL!

PS. I need you to leave 18 separate comments on my blog anywhere you'd like. 18. If you choose to accept, well..I can't give you anything, but it'd be really neat if you did.

Brian said...


I actually liked Ron Paul. Now that would have been someone who would bring changes. He had a ton of internet support, but I don't think he was taken seriously enough by the voices who matter. Oh well.

Timothy Smith said...

"not giving in to corporations and special interests."

Thats a stretch. Even Obama admitted the dems do exactly this they just have different special interests.

A good example is lawyers. While health care could be cheaper limiting malpractice suits Democrats are against this. Not on principle, they agree it needs reform but THEIR special interests guide dem policy. Teachers unions, drug companies etc etc. Dem lobbyists are not in it for the idealism, they are in it for the money.

Both parties as the same, they simply have different special interests.

Even helping the poor is a stretch. The home reinvestment act sure helped the poor for 8 years, gave them the gift of home ownership they could otherwise not afford.

But they will pay dearly for it now. The not only have lost their homes but the effect will also cost them jobs and lower pay for those that keep their jobs.

Policy is not so black and white, both sides want to help the middle class and even the poor but have different ideas how that can be done.

Welfare is needed and can work but massive class warfare handouts that fly in the face of economic reason are disastrous.

In the end will ANYONE including the poor benefit from Clintons 1999 laws that seemed so marvelous until 2006?

No. The poor will get slammed the hardest. Helping the poor and middle class is about teaching them to fish, not handing them a fish sandwich for a vote.

Thats when I became and independent, when I realize the parties are exactly the same. They just have a different mantra they chant to win votes.

I am writing in Ron Paul. Kusinich would have be ok too.

Thomas said...

Houston & Stephanie, let's start a Ron Paul REVOLUTION right here and now! As June Carter Cash once said to Johnny, "Time's A-Wastin".

Mags, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. As June Carter Cash once said to Johnny, "Time's A-Wastin".

Brian, I also believe Paul to be a sound voice of reason amongst the other Republicans.

Tim, I'd have to agree with you that the Dems also have the tendency to give in to special interests, but for some reason, the ones the Repubs hold close seem a bit more unpalatable (to borrow Houston's phrase) to me (BigOil in particular, since it leads to more destruction of the environment).

I'm glad you decided to go with Paul as opposed to McCain. I hope you're able to get many more to join the REVOLUTION. But please hurry. There's only 18 days left until Election Day. I believe it was June Carter Cash who once sang to Johnny, "Time's A-Wastin".

disestablishingpuritanism said...

As a kid, you're very impressionable. I'll have to say this about Reagan -- I saw him as an honest and a decent human being when watching him on T.V. Now, looking back, I know he didn't have my best interests at heart -- fairness for all Americans, sitting on his hands while an AIDS epidemic spread and stirring homophobic emotions, mishandling the drug trafficking and ignoring the growing urban blight, and allowing huge inflation to affect my family.

We seem to vote with our parents. My mother grew up in a staunch Republican household, while my dad as Democrat. I liked Reagan as a kid and naturally, her parents couldn't be prouder. She has since '92 gone Democrat, and it's tough to debate my dad at times with his political science background. However, I think I've liberalized him on some social issues.

I just wish we can have this election tomorrow. There's just a lot of silliness going on now. The corporate-controlled media seems to continue stoking the flames with their downtrodden assessments that government has failed us, ACORN which has only founded a very small fraction of a percent engaging in voter fraud, etc. Each election cycle, it seems there is more done to discourage voting than anything else.

What would I rather have happen: another Red Sox World Championship or a sweeping victory for Dems. on Nov. 4? That's a no-brainer. Go Obama and all Dems. Have a great weekend Thomas.

Thomas said...

PJ, I saw Reagan in the same way as a child. It's pretty sad that he started losing some of his faculties the last couple years he was in office, but not too big a surprise since he was in his late 70's.

I'm also getting antsy for the election, but am enjoying wearing my Obama button around town. I have it really high on my jacket, just a few inches from my face so it can't be missed.

I love how the Reps are complaining about voter fraud now, 8 years after the Dems came up with the short stick in Florida. Talk about ridiculous.

I've dreamt for months of an Democratic electoral tidal wave taking place on the 4th and like a kid awaiting Christmas Day, it's almost here. :)

You'd give up a Sox championship to ensure Obama gets elected? Damn, you're true blue, PJ, as am I.

Hope you have a good weekend as well.

Timothy Smith said...

Big oil does not hurt the environment, we do. Big oil burns very little fuel itself. Higher prices mean lower consumption so how can you be for the environment yet support winfall taxes and measures to reduce the price of fuel? I will tell you why, its not about the environment at all, you just want cheaper gas!

Do we carpool? Ride a bike to work? Avoid bottle water? Buy local produce? Buy organic? Would you vote for a 3 dollar a gallon tax increase? Are you against methanol after studies show its actually worse for the environment?

I bet the answer to most of those questions is no. We don't want to sacrifice anything, not even our idealism (support for methanol).

Our demand for oil is why the oil companies provide the commodity. Now they are the bad guys and not us? Thats some comedy folks. When the price of oil does go down what do we do? WE USE MORE OF IT!

At least the oil companies have a reason for their part, responsibility to shareholders and money.

What reasons do we all have for our part in hurting the planet?


Pure laziness.

Its far easier to blame everyone else and ask they sacrifice in a way you yourself never would.

As far as helping the poor:

Too many people want to be seen as wanting to help the poor but donate nothing all year, no money, no time and we chastise people like Gates and Buffet who have created hundreds of thousands of jobs and have pledged 80-90% of their lifetime earnings to charity.

Write down how many hours you volunteer, how much money you have donated, how many true sacrifices you have made for the environment. (don't include personal preference that happens to be eco-friendly).

Like 99.9% of Americans I bet its a short list. (Most could use a post-it note each decade for this purpose)

That does not make us all the bad guys, just lazy. Its easier to blame others then actually do something ourselves. But listen to Al Gore. While the govt will play a major role the only real hope for this planet is we the people.

Thats my .02 cents anyway....

Until Obama takes it! (sorry Tom, could not resist)

Thomas said...

I actually prefer higher gas prices. I may have mentioned this before, but Bill Maher said a few years ago that the price of gas should be at least $5.00 a gallon. This was when it was about 2 bucks or so.

He based this on the scarcity of fuel, what it is priced at throughout the rest of the world, and the fact that higher gas prices lead to more money going towards alternative energy sources.

I can't say I mind that fuel is currently going for less than 3 dollars, but in order for the U.S. to seriously look into alternatives, prices need to stay high.

So I actually would vote for a 3 dollar a gallon increase since it'd be worth it in the long run. I'll also against ethanol and though I don't ride a bike to work, I know someone who does. I don't buy produce at all, but am well aware that buying bottled water is not a good thing.

Last night, Thomas Friedman said that all the Repubs who say "Drill, Baby, Drill" are like people in the computer age saying, "Typewriter, Baby, Typewriter". They think a 20th Century mindset will work in the 21st.

I agree that many (including me from time to time) don't put their money and time where their mouth is. Hopefully, Obama will inspire us to begin. Hell, Gore might have done the same if he'd been elected in '00.

Timothy Smith said...

I cant recall who proposed the tax increases on gas back in the 80s but his idea was to raise gas by 10 cents a month until it hit 8 bucks a gallon. The Govt would give tax credits to transportation companies, truckers etc. (maybe even private citizens to a point)

His thoughts were this would actually stabilize prices while forcing conservation. All the money that now flows to the middle east would instead flow to the US Treasury to rebuild our infrastructure. Oil would be under 20 a barrel now as the US would have been forced to ween itself off of oil. When prices climb US prices would always be stable, high, but stable.

He went on to say this will happen anyway but we have the choice of sending the money to the middle east or to our own government.

Americans are indeed innovators, if cheap energy was put to an end we would adapt and if we tax hard we would have the money to help build the new infrastructure.

Seemed like a good plan but it has one flaw...who could ever propose such a thing and actually win an election?

Al Gore is correct, only carbon credits will fix this problem. If people want to waste energy fine, but they should pay a price for doing so.

You don't buy produce Tom? Its a great feeling buying from co-ops and farmers markets, it saves the environment by limiting transportation costs and if you go organic saves on pesticides etc.

You should also consider switching to range chicken and beef and cage free eggs and organic milk. Yes they cost more but they help alter your diet for the better. We all eat too much meat and dairy as it is. We do so because its so cheap. If you switch to range fed/cage free organics you tend to cut consumption, increase the health benefits to yourself and its far less cruel to the animals.

Something to consider anyway. Breaking free of the factory farms is a rewarding feeling.

I will have to send you some kickass healthy recipes to try. I cant get enough of roasted vegetables.

I had collard greens for the first time last week. Wow, were they ever tasty!

Thomas said...

I believe Thomas Friedman (a native Minnesotan) was also in favor of increasing the price of oil for the reasons you stated. That guy is a smart one. Course, most Thomas' are. :P

You're right in that proposing such a thing isn't politically practical. People don't tend to vote for what's in their long-term interests. Perhaps with the financial meltdown we're experiencing, they'll learn to.

No, I don't buy produce. I can't stand most vegetables, the only ones I even remotely like are carrots, tomatoes (in the form of ketchup), and corn. I still try to get a serving or two a day in by drinking some low-sodium V8. Tastes so bad, though, I have to chase it with some chocolate milk.

I rarely eat fruit, either. You might recall that I ate my first apple in a couple years earlier this month. I used to regularly buy bananas, but stopped when they started making me feel... inadequate.

I remember going with my mother to Famine Foods in Winona back in the early 80's. I believe they were the equivalent of today's Farmer's Markets.

Switching to free range chicken, beef, eggs, and milk are great ideas, but I never eat chicken at home, never cook beef, and I don't eat eggs or white milk because of my lactose. I'm all for less cruelty to animals, however.

Collard greens, huh? Well, I suppose anything's worth a try (other than voting Republican this cycle, that is).

Rocketstar said...

Ijust ask myself, What would Jesus Do?, vote Democrat and help the poor.

Timothy Smith said...

Jesus would not buy into the two party system. If you read your bible you would see his teachings are actually about helping the poor, not giving power to those that provide lip service about such things. I would also have serious doubts Jesus would be pro-choice.

What would Jesus do? Most likely say what I did a little earlier in this blog. He would tell you to make a real difference yourself not just vote for a political party and pat yourself on the back for "helping the poor". Maybe take some of your spare time and money and make a difference yourself.

Thats not what Jesus would do, that's what he actually did.

Claiming Jesus would vote Democrats is as silly as Republicans saying Jesus would vote Republican because they hold his ideals more true then Democrats.

Both sides are wrong in my opinion. Would Jesus really fall for the BS like everyone else?

Tom, your reason for not eating bananas is the best I have heard. Due to chemicals and genetic engineering they are quite intimidating now days, lol.

Penny Lane said...

This was a really interesting post! And yeah, the Magic 8 Ball might be where the answer is. I don't think the pundits on TV know as much as they think they do!