This month's rumination is directed at the true political independents and what I suspect is a large portion of the voting masses, among them this writer, who remain befuddled by the field of Democrat primary contenders, including late entrants into the field in recent weeks.
Like many others, a few months out from the March presidential primary election, I find myself very conflicted. I'll be upfront about it – I seek change in the White House, and long ago I gave up thinking that the current occupant would rise to the occasion after being elected in 2016. We need to be rid of the reality-tv drama – back alley politics and the constant threat to the basic ethical and constitutional foundation of our country. I also pine for a president that will inspire and unite the country, not just play to his/her political base. A return to normalcy.
Yes, I hear the sirens' call from the Republicans with their “coming home” effort to rebuild the party, but too much has transpired in the last several years after the hostile takeover of the GOP by Trump. The citizenry has been put through the ringer in the last three years, so I long for elected officials at the national (and state) level – in both parties – who are willing to challenge party bosses rather than standing silently in the shadows while the values of the past are forsaken.
That really leaves me with the Democrats, assuming the party doesn't self-destruct and blow this opportunity. It, too, is factionalized. Moderates vs. ultra-liberals. The divide could cost this party the general election next year.
My mantra has long been evolution not revolution. In other words, incremental change. I have been dispensing with this world view for a number of years and even more frequently when introduced to someone thinking of throwing their hat in the ring for state office or Congress, along with those already holding an elected position. My philosophy starts to naturally winnow the herd seeking the nomination to represent Democrats next November.
Although we can (and must) make improvements, they must be in an orderly, incremental fashion, without dividing the country further – if that is even possible. My perfect candidate, if such a thing exists, will put forth an agenda that is ambitious while avoiding the impractical. Public policy that is progressive (with a small “p”) but not overly punitive when it comes to taxation. We must make course corrections for the nation, restoring policy that has been stripped away with the current administration, although this does not mean simply returning to the past. And it certainly does not mean forsaking our form of government.
As we know, all of us go through some predictable political stages as we age, starting with lip synching the political views of the household in which we are raised only to evolve, even if only slightly, as we grow and face our own life challenges that help shape our outlook on public policy issues.
I went off to college as a Republican but cut my political teeth during the Vietnam War or Nam-era. Spent my fair share of time at political marches and teach-ins against the war; counseled young men and some current members of the military at the East Lansing Draft Information Center. Obtained Conscientious Objector status after fighting with my local draft board for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually, I lost faith or at least became less enamored with, some factions of the far left at that time especially when radical leftist viewpoints took over and violence crept into the movement back then. (Google Weathermen if you need a reference point.) That break really marked the start of my evolution politically as an independent and the pursuit of a personal goal to become involved in the “system,” at least from the fringes through the field of journalism.
My life's journey is at a different stage now. My driving motivation today is to fight for the future for my children, so they retain the same rights (nothing less) and quality of life that their parents have enjoyed.
I like to think of myself as an independent, more of a conservative to moderate on economic issues while more liberal on social issues. I want the next generation and their offspring to have a decent world in which to live, so the environment remains high on my priority list when I look at supporting candidates and issues. Equal pay for equal work. Need for expanded gun control efforts like background checks and banning of assault weapons. Voting rights and efforts to increase participation. Transparency in government. Not a fan of income redistribution but share the growing concern over economic disparity – unsure of the solution. Believe society must have some semblance of social net to buffer those less fortunate. Concerned about the future of health care, Social Security and women's reproductive rights. Big supporter of diversity in all aspects of society. Believe that the fight for civil rights is still being waged, albeit on additional fronts. Strong supporter of legal immigration, but also finding a path to citizenship for what we call The Dreamers and others who reside here illegally but have been contributing for years. Believe that the United States past role as the bastion of democracy and the leader of the free world must be restored.
I am turned off by the disinformation campaigns being waged; governance by Twitter; dog-whistle politics; the growing influence of dark money in our elections, and elected officials tethered to political dogma.
My values and concerns I suspect are shared by many others, who like me, face a quandary and are wrestling with who might best represent their interests come next year's election .
Finding my perfect candidate will certainly not be easy.
But come 2020, while seeking change I will vote for moderation – evolution rather than revolution.