Ha, made you look…again. Don’t worry I haven’t quit exercise or my healthy(ish) lifestyle. In fact I enjoyed my longest run ever yesterday, 6.6 miles. I ran my fastest six-mile time, and my fastest 10K time. I took a few days off from weight lifting at the end of the week and that may have contributed to a little extra juice on my run.
I have quit something though – the Republican Party. I cannot continue to be a member of the GOP in light of the decline and deterioration of the party. The hate, the racism, the discrimination, and the vitriol are things I just can’t get behind. And this isn’t just since Donald Trump claimed the nomination as the party’s candidate for president. This something I have been considering for some time.
My first introduction to politics came when I was just four years old and Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace and Gerald Ford became president. I had no idea what any of it meant. I just have vague recollections of Nixon making the announcement on television. I was 10 when Jimmy Carter was embroiled in the Iran hostage crisis. It seemed like the minute Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the hostages were released. I used to give weekly updates to my classmates reading newspaper clippings on the hostage situation.
For the next eight years I grew up on Reagan as president. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But my recollections are of much of the good he did, despite the Iran/Contra scandal that marred his second term, and the administration’s unwillingness to do anything about the emerging AIDS crisis.
As a child of the 1980s, I watched the unsustainable growth in personal wealth and the avarice and greed of people who weren’t much older than me. “Yuppies” ruled and got rich. This perceived economic prosperity brought me to the GOP. We now know how misguided all of this was.
I was conditioned to believe that the GOP had the better foreign policy and believed in a strong, far-reaching military. I still believe in a strong military.
When I voted for the first time in 1988, I registered republican and voted for George Bush for president. As a young sailor in the United States Navy, I felt that servicemembers were better served by a republican president. When Bill Clinton became president, my recollection is that our annual raises were cut in half. I watched what happened during a major drawdown of military assets as bases closed and some towns around the country suffered greatly. Now, was the military bloated with unnecessary units, bases, detachments and such? Sure. It was just disheartening to watch at the conclusion of the Cold War.
Political science is not something I understand whatsoever. But I know what I feel. I know what resonates. After almost 30 years of conservative politics resonating with me, it all sounds wrong. Everything from the politicians, the pundits and excuse makers just all sounds wrong.
For the better part of eight years republicans have railed against President Barack Obama. Congress has been obstructionist at best. I never wanted to believe that legislation was blocked or stalled because President Obama is black, but events of the past year have made it pretty obvious. Throughout the primary season I kept having this recurring thought. Eight years of President Obama, he’s on his way out at the end of this term, and these 15 people (or whatever it was) are the best you can come up with? Where are the rising stars of the Republican Party? Where is their Barack Obama? Where are the young, fresh-faced leaders of the party who are ready to take it into the future? And when it was all said and done, it came down to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. Jeb Bush wasn’t all that he was cracked up to be, and Bobby Jindal…well.
Republicans claim to be the biggest defenders of the United States Constitution and would have you believe they have a premium on patriotism and the American way. Yet, they ignore the very principles this country was founded on. The separation of church and state is one of the tenets our country incorporated from Jump Street, yet Republicans insist the United States was founded as a Christian nation. They would have evolution debunked, prayer instituted in public schools and intelligent design as part of the curriculum. Taxpayer money helped fund a religious fantasy in Kentucky.
I am no fan of President Obama. I think at times he has acted like a pouting child who doesn’t get what he wants. However, the hatred for this man just because of the color of his skin is deplorable. The obstructionist opposition to the work he has wanted to accomplish is disheartening. And in spite of it all, he has accomplished much.
I have never thought congress should pass laws just because the president wanted them. That’s why we have checks and balances. But what this congress has done, or not done, is ridiculous.
Look, I am no fool. Immigration is an issue. I am not smart enough to know what the solution is. What I do know is that rounding up millions of people and deporting them is not the answer. Blaming an entire country and building a wall along the border are not answers. Racism and discrimination are not answers.
I know that truth is greater than belief. Fact is greater than fiction.
Science is the search for facts. Knowing and believing can often be the same thing. I’m on the side of facts and truth. I believe in what I can see and feel. I believe in the scientific method. If there is sufficient data and experimentation to prove a theory and turn it into a fact – that’s good enough for me.
The theory of evolution is the best thing we’ve come up with yet to explain life on earth. There are billions of galaxies and stars what seems to be an infinite universe – fact. The earth is billions of years old – fact. Man and dinosaurs did not walk the earth together – fact. Not beliefs. Human-caused climate change is a real thing. The disbelief of scientific fact is particularly troubling. The ignorance is staggering.
Full Definition of theory
1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : speculation
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>
4a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn>b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <the wave theory of light>
6a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigationb : an unproved assumption : conjecturec : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>
Full Definition of believe
1 a : to have a firm religious faith b : to accept something as true, genuine, or real <ideals we believe in> <believes in ghosts>
2 : to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something <believe in exercise>
3 : to hold an opinion : think <I believe so>
1 a : to consider to be true or honest <believe the reports> <you wouldn’t believe how long it took> b : to accept the word or evidence of <I believe you> <couldn’t believe my ears>
2 : to hold as an opinion : suppose <I believe it will rain soon>
There’s some overlap in these definitions.
Full Definition of fact
3 : the quality of being actual : actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence>
4 a : something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact> b : an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage>
5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality
: in truth
I could go on and on about what I know on each one of these topics. But that’s not what this blog is for. However, it is to describe my journey as a person. I am not defined by my politics. I am a human being, who is constantly evolving. Yes, I am still judgmental when it comes to people who make excuses and don’t do for themselves, when it comes to folks who’d rather complain than improve their situation. I’m working on that.
But, when it comes to human beings in general – acceptance, tolerance and understanding go a long way.
When it comes to my politics, I have always been in the middle on many issues. I don’t think I was extreme right wing. When I see laws enacted that discriminate against people, widespread belief in conspiracy theories and lies, and isolationist concepts espoused by the leaders of the GOP, I choose a different path.
One of the things that bothers me the most about all of this is the demographic that has fallen in line. It’s my demographic. These are supposed to be my people. Middle aged (ouch, that hurt to write), white, middle class, middle Americans. Well, I choose a different path.
I’ll add a few more thoughts on immigration because it has been prominent in the news this week. For all the people who want to say, “go home,” “go back to where you came from,” etc., YOU’RE NOT FROM HERE. I am a big proponent of learning the language if you live somewhere. I always have been. I think it’s essential to functioning in society. If I moved to Italy, I would certainly learn to speak some Italian. But I have never been one of these, “speak English,” bigots. There is so much irony in the “speak English” comment. English – as in England – as in a different country. My paternal ancestors hailed from Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1900. My mother was Korean. My people are not from here either. The only people from here are one of the most persecuted and discriminated against groups of people in the history of the world. Ask Native Americans who they think should go back to where they came from.
At the turn of the last century, there were entry points into the United States. Movies have dramatized the ingress of seemingly millions of immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. Why not bring this back? I’m not talking about standard border crossings for tourists and the like. I’m talking about entry points for immigrants where the documentation process can begin and people can embark on a clearly marked path to citizenship. Who knows? Maybe this has already been considered and dismissed. Maybe I don’t understand the issues and logistics.
One of the other things that has rankled me lately is discrimination. Certain segments of the population are being told they are wrong for just being who they are. I can’t get behind that. And I certainly can’t get behind the ideology behind that discrimination. Religious intolerance is a subject for a different day.
I think the only way I can sum up where my head is with all of this is with the poem associated with the Statue of Liberty.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I am a patriot. I am a veteran. I am proud to be an American. I proudly declare myself a political independent.