Monday, October 17, 2011

How I Came to Vote Republican

The first presidential candidate I voted for was George McGovern. I didn't vote for him because I particularly like him. I voted for him because I distrusted Richard Nixon and didn't think he should win by a landslide. He did anyway and proved he was a sneaky bugger in short order.

I next voted for James Earl Carter in 1976 because he was a Washington outsider and I didn't like the way Ford was given the nomination for the Republicans.  I figured Carter for an honest man and a Christian.  I was 22 years old.

Something I overheard standing in line for that first vote troubled me. A young woman in front of me in the line said, "I just marked the straight ticket box. It was easier than looking at all those names I don't know and I voted for McGovern anyway."  The idea that people would vote straight ticket without knowing what any of the candidates believed seemed wrong to me and not very bright. With my Carter vote I came to realize that it takes more than being an outsider to administer the country. It takes genuine, workable ideas.

Over the succeeding (or, more accurately) failing) four years, as the gas lines lengthened and the price controls kicked inflation into double digits and we were humiliated and held hostage in Iran, I began listening to the radio messages of a California B-Western actor named Ronald Reagan.  Reagan was the first man I ever voted for in a presidential election and the first one I was ever completely happy with.  And, sadly, the last.

Ronald Reagan taught me that there were still some folk in politics who actually believe all the high-sounding phrases they use in speeches. More importantly, I learned that if you believe in Americans and get out of their way, they can do incredible things. Conservatism made sense to me. I'd seen creeping socialism rob America of it's spirit. I saw conservative leadership turn that around.

The Democrats had their chance to remold American society and all they gave us was malaise -- the same thing Communism gave the Russians and Chinese in the early days of the movement. Much longer and we'd have got some of the horror of the middle days of Russo-Chinese communism, the heyday of Stalin and Mao. Reagan shined a light on the great flaws of big government socialism and disrupted the Democrat-led march to the left.

My Grandpa became a Democrat during the depression and World War II under FDR. In his later years, he talked more and more like Reagan while he continued to vote a straight Democratic ticket. I never talked him away from his loyalty to the Democrat party, but I think he really liked Ronald Reagan and secretly admired him.

Me too, Grandpa.

Tom King, Puyallup, WA
(c) 2011 by Tom King

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