Last week, Alex and I were having a talk about the history of politics in America. Exciting stuff, right? Later in the discussion he asked me what party I was registered under.
I told him I wasn’t affiliated with any political party. He said, “So, you’re an independent. You vote for the independent candidates.”
“No, buddy. I vote based on the issues. Not for any particular party.”
He understood what I meant but was still giving me a look like I committed a hate crime.
So, I explained to him the semi-short version of how I got to where I am today.
How it all started
Growing up, I was a pint-sized political junkie. It was unavoidable in our house. I was around 7-years old when the principal at Carmel Academy phoned my mom to ask that I quit talking about Jimmy Carter in class. I was fascinated with the peanut farmer. But it was a distraction to my fellow students and I had to stop.
During the run up to the 1980 election I was all in for Reagan and Bush. I had yard signs and pins hanging in my room next to the Björn Borg and Cheryl Tiegs posters. My parents loved him and so did I. I was 9-years old and I didn’t know shit from Shinola about the man’s politics. All I knew was he was a big presence on TV and in our home.
And then he got shot. I had just turned 10 and he was my hero for having survived. From that point on I adored the man.
That carried over into George H.W. Bush. I can’t think of a bad thing to say about the guy. He was and is a decent and honorable man.
Then came the man from Hope. Bill Clinton. I was in college when he ran for President and won. I can honestly say I can’t remember what he stood for, but he certainly was charismatic and bright.
By the end of the Clinton era I was sick of anything related to his administration and for good reason. That included Al Gore. I just wanted a hot shower to wash away the Bubba years.
Then came Florida. Bush v. Gore. What a mess that was. My admiration for politics was quickly waning and I hoped I would never hear the phrase, “hanging chad” again.
It was well after 9/11 when I started to shift toward becoming a full-time independent voter. The hyper-partisan style of politics between the Clintonites and the Contract with America Congress had run over into the 2000s and I was tired of it.
This was the moment when I completely disengaged from following politics. The hate wasn’t healthy for me.
Then came 2008 and Barack Obama. I started to pay attention again. Barack was something entirely different. This man transcended politics. He had woven himself into the fabric of America. This election felt like a calling and a reminder from Lincoln:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
When it all ended
Soon after the election, half of America had abandoned her better angels for something vicious and revengeful.
The political temperature was beyond feverish and it never let up.
I was finally finished with Republicans, Democrats, big personalities, slick campaigns, negative attack ads, vague political platforms and a press that was no longer truly free.
And that’s where it ends for me. What we have NOW is something I cannot explain or understand. So, I won’t.
I will leave you and Alex with this quote from John H. Lynch, the 80th Governor of New Hampshire.
“We will not agree on every issue. But let us respect those differences and respect one another. Let us recognize that we do not serve an ideology or a political party; we serve the people.”
Much love. ✌️