I was born in 1984, in a republican household, and a fairly stringent Roman Catholic household at that. Everything was a sin, and Ronald Reagan might as well have been God himself reincarnated. We were on the cusp of a technological boom and another republican presidency.
If you were in the GOP, life was good.
As I exited high school and became of voting age, naturally, I registered as republican. I didn’t know anything above and beyond what my parents told me. I did no research on my own and felt a certain tribalism with the republican side. If you weren’t with us, you were against us. Now, at it’s core, I did find that I supported republican ideals, mostly on fiscal issues. The idea of less taxes and smaller government intrigued me. Most of that was because my family owned (and still does to this day) a small business, and I got to see first-hand the amount of taxes and regulation that were placed on us. So much so that it became increasingly harder to make our business profitable from year-to-year.
However, the GOP wasn’t just about fiscal responsibility, they also had a social agenda.
I quickly started to notice that the GOP and Catholicism went hand-in-hand. Most, if not all, of the social constructs of the GOP’s belief system were based on some version of the Bible. No abortions, no gay marriage, etc. I started to see why, aside from fiscal responsibility, it appealed to my family. Being of Christian background, it only made sense. As I aged, I quickly realized that most of these social policies were not only wrong, but they were harmful as well. Not to mention, what gives the government the right to tell you who to marry or what you can do to your body?
I started to feel torn inside. How can I vote for the fiscal policies I believe in while still maintaining the social policies I supported? I, like many individuals, end up voting for the party that will benefit me the most. For me, I’m not a woman and I’m not a gay man looking to get married, so while I fully support legal abortions and the right to get married, I vote republican because the fiscal responsibility has a direct impact on me and my family today.
Because of this, and the way I vote, I get lumped in to a single category. “Republicans are dumb, racist rednecks who do not know what is good for them.” We are deplorable. We are everything that is wrong with this country. We don’t know what is good for us, and we need someone to show us so that we don’t hurt ourselves. We are incapable of feeling and helping others. Now, I know this is not how all liberals feel, but I do know it’s how most feel especially when you engage in any sort of discussion.
My problem with the way the political landscape is today, is that there is no moderation. There is no middle ground for discussion, ideas, or growth. You pick a side, and you fight for that side regardless of your stance on certain topics. With technology the way it is today, millions of people post false and hateful things to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram thinking that it is completely true. Someone in my extended family recently told me about a Facebook post they saw where a receipt was found on the ground with lobster and steak on it. You will never guess how they paid for it…WITH AN EBT CARD!!! Does this happen at times, sure. Was this Facebook post fake? Probably. But, that’s the thing, this fake post caused this family member to go on about how they voted for Trump because of things like this. And, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but that hasn’t really changed one bit since he has been in.
So, what is a reasonable person supposed to do? Unlike most on the extreme left or right, I am willing to have a conversation. I am willing to be convinced as to why my viewpoint on something is wrong. I am willing to work towards a reasonable goal that satisfies most on both sides of the fence on any issue. What I am not willing to do is to sacrifice my own personal beliefs for the beliefs of someone else. I am also not willing to force those beliefs on anyone.
If you had asked me 10 years ago what my political stance was, I would have answered republican. Today, I feel more libertarian. I don’t want the government involved in my personal life. I want decreased government spending and reach. I want less lobbyists and more people who actually care about what the right thing to do is. I want term limits. I want the good of the people to be a politician’s main goal.
The funny thing is, most people want the exact same thing.
Change must start somewhere. As a nation, we can bond together to make that change, but we need to be willing to have a conversation. We need to be willing to abandon our tribalism for one side and meet somewhere in the middle. You have to do that in every other aspect of life, so why not with politics?