Feb 20, 2012
Last Thursday, on another globally-warmed winter night in NYC, I went for a walk. Now I go for a walk every night, and Thursday differed only with the question that occupied my mind: why am I no longer a Republican?
On one hand, I knew that my feelings towards the Republican party were shaped by a few core principles, but I struggled to isolate them from the usual political noise. On the other, I hated that I’d painted myself into a corner by starting a 2-part series about my politics with Ron & Me: Part I. (It really is much easier to write about crack pot dictators)
By the time I hit 14th street, I had a nugget, the start of an answer: I grew up in the dawn of the Internet age. I logged onto Netscape Navigator 1.0 in 1994, and I watched as the world was up-ended by what came next. If there was ever a generation bred for change, surely it is mine. I finally found a loose thread, so I asked Google to define “conservative”. A cursory glance at the result revealed how much at odds it is with my upbringing:
Well then, I thought that was it, Google had given me my answer. But as I swooped past the vapid hoards queued up in the Meatpacking District, I heard Paul Harvey whisper to me. To no one’s surprise, Paul told me to find the rest of the story. Johnnie Walker rang me next, he said to keep walking, so I did that too.
I headed for W 11th street, I needed a break, a drink, and some music to ponder things more. I soon found myself in the basement of Smalls, a great West Village jazz bar, i pondered away. And as is almost always the case, the music talked to me, and moved my thought needle forward some more.
My anti-GOP sentiment goes beyond ideological difference. Its more basic, and it comes down to
hate. Be it gay marriage, illegal immigration, or ‘Islamofacism‘, the GOP preaches hate thinly disguised behind notions of ‘religion’ and ‘values’. Ironically, the Republicans are quite progressive when it comes to hate mongering. Gone are the burning crosses and firehoses of the past, and in their place the GOP spreads a junk-food diet of zealotry; devoid of nuance, and painted in the easily absorbed red, white and blue.
What’s worse is how this message resonates with the American masses. Its simple, its good guys and bad guys, its right or wrong. The GOP’s message harkens to better days, when we knew who and what to fear, when things were simpler because we were simpler.
These were the days of my boy, Ronald Reagan.
The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. It happened. Things have changed.
I am not Muslim, I am not an illegal immigrant, and I am certainly not gay. Republicans can call it what they like, be it ‘protecting American jobs’, or ‘protecting the sanctity of marriage’, but they are only shielding Americans from the realities of a changing world. I get why some kid shoveling shit in Alabama would be weirded out seeing two men make out, but I bet he wouldn’t go marching through Birmingham with fork and flame if the GOP had not elevated civil rights to a national referendum. People are naturally adverse to change, and the GOP not only enables this ignorance, but worse, allows the ignorantsia (yeah, I just made that up) to project it upon the rest of the country.
Two hours later, I walked out of Smalls with a simple answer: I am not so much a Democrat as as I am not a Republican.
Sure, I can overlook the hate, I can say that ‘conservative fiscal policy’, ‘welfare reduction’ and ‘stopping class warfare’ are noble GOP virtues, and that’s what is really important, but I won’t. No matter your economic policy stance, or your desire is to end big-government, if you are Republican you will have to square with hate one day. I will gladly pay 70% tax rates to support an army of meth addicted mothers before I align myself with a knuckle-dragging idiot that believes only heterosexuals are fit to serve in the Army.
Ron, you were my first President, and I still hold you in incredibly high esteem. But the world of 2012 is not like that of 1982. You were the right leader at the right time, and that was 30 years ago. I wouldn’t vote for you today, and I certainly will not vote for those who hide behind your legacy to legitimize their hate. Its superflous to talk about higher-order issues when we have yet to grasp the most basic meaning of civil rights.
…read Ron & Me: Part I