I believe it is extremely important to look at history as we deal with the partisan politics of today. We often hear, “I have been a Democrat most of my life or Republican most of my life.” For those who believe those comments resonate, I would suggest it’s important to occasionally review the underlying values of each party, to determine if your values still align with the one you have voted for in the past. Party values change over time.
Example: if we go back 50 years and look at the Democratic Party, George Wallace, the segregationist Governor of Alabama was in contention for the Presidency. Yes, the 60’s were a period of great change in southern politics, and although he might have won some years before, by the late sixties and early seventies, the segregationist politicians in the South were in retreat and more moderate candidates were coming forward.
On the Republican side of the aisle, Jim Leach was an Iowa Congressman from 1977 to 2006. I really admired Jim and remember a conversation I had with him in his last term. I said, “Jim, you need to leave the Republican Party because it has left you.”
Personally, I think Jim got defeated in his last term not so much because of his politics, but because the Republican Party was moving right, and in his more liberal district, the new image tainted him. I think the current Congressman David Loebsack is perfectly aligned with his party and with the current politics of the district.
Until the middle of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, I was a registered Republican, but I felt the party was leaving me and was moving in a direction I was not comfortable supporting. I was a fiscal conservative and concerned about the national debt, but was very much a social liberal. With the Republicans now ignoring the mounting debt, I think all my values line up best with the Democrats.
Over the past few years, and especially with the election of the current President, the Republican Party has changed radically, while the Democrats have changed just a little. I would urge each registered Republican to ask themselves, “do my values still line up, in the current environment, with the Republican Party?”
Also, be cognizant of the probability that your values will never line up with either party 100% of the time. It’s also possible that your values may be changing. As I have gotten older, mine certainly have. I have become more tolerant and more forgiving and much more concerned about issues such as the treatment of immigrants, gun control, health care, America’s role in the world and most of all, the need for a truth-telling and kinder president.
As you review your philosophies of governance, I would urge you to put kindness, empathy and introspection as part of the equation. The country needs those qualities now more than ever.
Finally, however it turns out for you personally, please vote. Our democracy depends on it.
by Dick Goodson
Photo via Flickr