In 1980, I was 8 months too young to cast my vote for Ronald Reagan although, getting out of high school a year early gave me the opportunity to join the Navy. While stationed at Naval Air Facility, Washington DC, I had the rare opportunity to participate in President Reagan’s inaugural parade. In November 1984, I had yet another chance for a repeat inaugural. but an intensely bitter blizzard canceled the parade and curtailed outdoor participation and service members were left out in the warm that year.
In 1988, Pat Robertson ran for president and competed against Vice President George Bush for the nomination. It was an exciting time for a young solid red conservative like myself. Four years later, At 25 years old, I volunteered for Pat Robertson’s campaign. I had signs, buttons, trinkets even glassware. One of strategies to educate prospective voters was to take a VHS tape and host a party, play the tape, discuss Pat and attempt to persuade others to support him for the nomination and in turn host their own parties. It should be noted however, that although very conservative in the 1980s, Pat was a very compassionate and relatively stable candidate. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s the he really started going bat shit crazy and making men go bald from scratching their heads every time he spoke.
More than 25 years and subsequent experiences have altered my view of politics up to the present day. I was afforded the opportunity to be on the outside of the United States looking in. In 1989, I left the United States and went to work in Japan. I experienced living in Japan for a number of years as a super micro minority. Although, the Japanese are very warm, generous people, they also are a very closed group of people wary of outsiders. In spite of this, they rely on foreign members to supplement their workforce. They are decades behind the United States in assimilation and equality and still have trouble seeing their foreign residents as complete people. Thus, discrimination by our standards is extremely common. This is not out of hatred or racism, but out of a rigid culture and a fair amount of ignorance. Living as less than a complete individual has given me a different perspective on equality and fairness. Like those that still continue to struggle with complete acceptance in the United States in 2016, I too was often dependent on the open-mindedness of members of a dominant group to help me navigate my way through life.
When I returned to United States in 2014, I reflected a lot on my experiences abroad and also all the way back to when I was in the military. The idea of one citizen having less rights than another grated my basic beliefs which were refined after serving in the military for 8 years. I reflected a lot on my more recent experience living abroad and feeling the sting of prejudice. Living and trying to succeed in securing steady employment and basic housing in the face of systemic racial discrimination have taught me to more empathetic. Before the age of 18, I never saw the glaring disparities among citizens of the United States that we see today. For example, I really do not understand gay people, Muslim people or any other person not just like me. However, I feel it is not my place to analyze, criticize and cast judgement . It is our place to make sure every citizen is treated equally and fairly under the law. Whether they are black, white, gay, straight, Christian or non-Christian, folks are folks.
This self-reflection made me discover I was really no longer a Republican at heart. The Republican party had shifted and zipped shut parts of their open tent. While, I still clung to fiscal conservatism, I became more socially liberal. This made me self-identify as a Libertarian or Independent finding no real sweet spot in either the Democratic or Republican parties. The Libertarians really offered the flexibility to mature politically. I admire their message on fiscal responsibility to stop blowing our hard-earned income. I admire the Libertarian social issues platform of just STFU and let people live their lives in liberty.
I will give two topics that divide us as a nation and that in my opinion we have spent way too much unproductive time on. Gay rights and abortion. How long have we been beating the abortion thing now? Why are we as a nation still collectively having a perverse relationship with other folks relationships?
Let’s start with those pesky gay people. It is not fundamentally in conflict with Libertarian as well as Conservative philosophy to be in support of gay rights, especially ensuring that same-sex couples enjoy the rights of others. I have no problem whatsoever supporting the right of any LGBT member of our society. To not do so seems to be in conflict with the spirit of our constitution and values and thus seems unpatriotic to me. Now I can flip-flop on this and change my mind. The day that a same-sex couple living nearby affects my ability to earn a living, protect my family, violate national security or just set the country on fire, I can change and be a rabid anti-gay activist. But that ain’t going to happen, so people and their candidates need to just STFU about other folks. Folks is folks. It is also is keeping with the principles of keeping government out of our business and protecting individual rights. I can remember hearing Libertarians remind us that the smallest minority in the United States is the individual. So let’s protect all of them.
I think Bill Clinton was the first politician I heard say abortion should be safe, legal and extremely rare. That is a position I can support. Keeping abortion safe, legal and extremely rare does not force a woman to have an abortion against her will. As a believer in Christianity, I do believe that life begins in the womb and there is certainly references in the Bible that support this. I am pro-life. I believe that from what I understand about abortion that it is wrong in most cases. But this a belief based on my own personal faith. I also recognize I am not a woman and do not feel qualified to argue my position adequately. What I do recognize is that while God asks us to not be part of the world, he does require us to live in a troubled world. Also, there are tragic circumstances that may justify abortion and in those cases and having a legal option under proper medical care is essential. I personally am by no means pro-abortion. I just think the government needs to get take a step back and stop spending time dividing the nation on this. Face it, since 1973, you have had Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush and still haven’t settled it. Might be the time to focus on other issues. I know of very few people who are pro-abortion. Even the most liberal of denominations in mainstream Christianity do not affirm abortion to be acceptable as casual birth control, gender selection and partial birth abortion except for the life of the mother. To tell my secular government to make laws and force my doctrines down the throats of people who take and they say that laws against abortion amount to forcing a religious doctrine onto people of other faiths. It is not a matter to me whether it is right or wrong, but that those concerned need to make thoughtful consideration with their doctors, spiritual advisers, family and other appropriate counselors.
Those were just two issues. Now, on to my choices. Trump, Clinton, Johnson or Stein. Two of them are just crazy in their own right. One can’t hold his own and then there is Clinton. She has her problems. Which one can work with the legislative branches and try to get the nation’s business done? Which one of these has the experience to be president? Which one can advocate on the world stage for the interests of United States without pissing people off every time the open their mouths? As senator, 68% of Hillary Clinton’s bills had Republican sponsors. This has earned her a place for me to consider her as my president.
There is about 17 days for me to decide where to cast my vote. I am registered and I have not missed an election since 1984. This will probably be the first time ever I will likely choose more democratic candidates than republicans.