Why I ain’t a Democrat … or a Republican

When you’re a white guy from the South with a Southern accent, a pickup truck, a shotgun and two — count ’em, two — Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirts, folks around here assume you’re a Republican. They assume you’re a genuine, Obama-birth-certificate-doutin’, Hillary hatin’, Fox News lovin’, Trump-worshippin’ right-winger.

Well, I ain’t. I mean, I’m not. I buck that stereotype in these here parts. The thing about most stereotypes, though, is that they often are generally true. Most of the folks I know around here who fit that description are indeed right-wingers — some to the point of wearing a Q shirt and mumbling “lock her up” in their sleep.

The conservatives I know think I’m a Democrat. I ain’t. I mainly vote that way right now because I think the GOP has fallen down a hole while chasing a crazed orange rabbit. I consider myself an independent with my views ranging from left to right and averaging somewhere in the middle — which, granted, is a mighty lonely place these days. It’s hard to get folks fired up about moderation:

What do we want?!
When do we want it?!
At a reasonable juncture when it will effect necessary positive outcomes across a vast spectrum of interests and needs in a prudent fashion!
What do we … I’m sorry … what?

“Ha! You ain’t no moderate!” I can hear my right-wing friends saying. Not on every issue, no, but on some. And take that gun out of your mouth, Gomer.

So, where do I stray from some liberals? Well, here are a few areas:

I do NOT want to see Trump impeached.

Don’t get me wrong — I think this guy is pure slime, a narcissist and incompetent. However, there are so many bad things going on with this administration that has the full backing of the GOP that we need Trump to remain the evil face of it — all pig, no lipstick. All of these anti-environment, pro-wealthy, anti-working class, anti-poor, anti-student policies and anti-anything decent need to be attached to the Criminal in Chief that we have now. I want a clown driving the clown car. I’m afraid Vice President Pence might make those horrible policies appear way too palatable.

I want strong borders.

I don’t want to see a single person able to sneak into our country. Unlike a lot of folks who want strong borders, though, it’s not because I hate brown people. I want to expand legal immigration and I want to keep the Dreamers and the good folks who are already here. I understand why decent folks want to come to America, and I want to help them do just that. I also understand why evil people might want to come to America, and I want to prevent that. I don’t care whether it’s ICE, INS, FBI, CIA or IBM who keeps the bad guys out. I’m also not such a simpleton that I believe that a handful of Democrats’ call to abolish ICE is the same as wanting “open borders” — a favorite fear-mongering invention of the right. I’m also literate enough to see that immigrants (including illegal immigrants) commit major crimes at a lower rate than those of us lucky enough to have been born American citizens.

I don’t give certain religions a pass.

Bill Maher hits on this and gets called a bigot and racist, which makes no sense, but he and I agree that liberals often pick and choose which religious extremists to get upset about and which to give a pass. If your religion, denomination, sect, cult or whatever you want to call it oppresses women, the LGBT community or races in the name of your God or religious leaders or religious texts, it’s just wrong. If you loudly condemn a  religious community that suggests women should be a little more submissive (which is wrong), then you must even more loudly condemn a religious community that overtly oppresses women, allows honor killings and hurls gay people off of roofs (even more wrong). Granted, when you take away the permissions to oppress women, the LGBT community, other races and nonbelievers, you might not have a whole lot of religion left to talk about.

I’m not OK with censorship or shouting down the right.

Alex Jones is pure evil, but I don’t want to see his InfoWars censored. I did not like the “Flush Rush” campaigns to try to get radio stations to kick Rush Limbaugh off the air. I even listen to Rush, Hannity and Mark Levin sometimes for entertainment. Ann Coulter should be able to speak on the most liberal college campuses to the three or four people there who want to hear her. I disagree with Rep. Maxine Waters and those who want to yell at Sarah Sanders and Trump’s swampy Cabinet members as they dine at restaurants. All that hyperventilating turns off potential swing voters and independents. Free speech should be encouraged. Wisdom rarely develops in a bubble. Sometimes you might enhance your own perspective — or you might see that a group’s ideas are even worse than you thought. I realize platforms like Facebook are private and can suppress free speech all they want — but they shouldn’t. Of course, when right-wingers say “Whatever happened to the First Amendment right to free speech?,” they usually fail to realize the amendment relates only to the government suppressing your speech. Facebook, Twitter and the local radio station can do it all they want.

I’m not happy with CNN.

No, it’s not fake news. That’s a flat-out ignorant statement and one used to inflame the Trumper cult. However, CNN has left 95 percent of the evil from the Trump administration unmentioned while they’ve focused on Russia, Stormy and the rest of the unsavory matters surrounding Trump. The problem isn’t “fake news” — it’s that there is not enough news. People have no idea what is happening to the environment, how little wages are rising, how well the millionaires and billionaires are doing, how the working poor are struggling and how we are now just 75 or 80 years from making real progress in Afghanistan. CNN, as well as the other major cable “news” networks have devolved into perpetual punditry instead of news. They talked about Scott Pruitt’s swampy office and lobbyist deals but not the EPA’s ongoing attack on the environment. They haven’t explained Betsy DeVos’ assault on students and lobbying for them to have more debt. They’ve made a handy foil for Trump and his “CNN sucks!” supporters at rallies, but no one gave Trump more airtime before the election than CNN. And they still can’t stop talking about him. Meanwhile, Fox News also has fallen into the pit of punditry mixed with a mission to defend Trump at all costs.

I believe cops are underappreciated.

You can both appreciate law enforcement and decry the bad actions of a few. Those are not mutually exclusive positions. Most cops are great folks — underpaid for the difficult jobs they do and the risks they face. They are the subject of slow-motion instant replays and Monday morning quarterbacking of actions they take in intense, pressure-packed, rapidly occurring situations. There are a handful of bad apples — in every arena. I would like to see cops have some alternative to shooting to kill. I wish they could just pull a Captain Kirk and set phasers to stun, but it’s not that simple. Every situation is different. Eric Garner and Michael Brown were two vastly different situations. One was a tragedy. One was merely unfortunate. I’m just glad every difficult split-second decision I make is not hyper-analyzed and slow-motion-replayed. I think cops deserve the benefit of the doubt, at first. If evidence paints another picture, then so be it.

I stand for the anthem.

I take off my cap, place my hand over my heart and stand for the national anthem. That’s a personal decision, and I do it because as embarrassed as I may be by our current government, I still believe in what America can and should be. However, because I believe in America (and freedom of speech and peaceful protest), I have no problem with NFL players kneeling for the National Anthem. If you do have a problem with that, then don’t claim you believe in free speech or get angry when Ann Coulter can’t make an appearance at UC-Berkeley. Also, make sure that when you are screaming about someone kneeling for the anthem that you are not at the same time plopped down on your couch and drinking a beer. And if you’re boycotting the NFL and have Atlanta Falcons season tickets, let’s talk. I might can relieve you of that burden.

I am a gun owner and Second Amendment supporter.

I grew up shooting guns. I shot a few animals as a boy before I lost my interest in hunting. I own a shotgun for protection that I hope I never need. I might introduce it to a snake or two. But I don’t believe anyone needs an assault-style rifle or high-capacity magazines, and I don’t believe the Founding Fathers wanted anyone and everyone to be able to get their hands on any type of weapon they wanted. The concept of Constitutional Originalism is ridiculous. There has to be room for interpretation for a document written long before the internet, machine guns, cars, air travel, radio and television. It’s a good start, but don’t make it a holy book. And if you’re such an originalist that you believe the Constitution must be adhered to as written, well, I can’t wait to see your well-regulated militia.

I’m willing to consider a fair or flat tax.

I would still prefer a progressive tax system in which the rich pay much more than they do and the poor pay much less than they do. However, I would consider a flat tax so long as the first $40,000 or so of income was untaxed and that $40,000 was adjusted yearly for cost of living and inflation as the minimum wage should be — just as Trump has proposed for the capital gains tax to protect the riches of the wealthy.

I agree with Trump that we’ve been getting screwed on trade deals.

Indeed, folks like China have been sticking it to the U.S. for years and play by a different set of rules. Amazingly enough, the TPP deal might have been the only thing Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agreed upon. Of course, the over-the-top, Twitter-fied, public trade wars upon which Trump has embarked might not be the smartest move. But he has pointed to his head many times and reminded us how smart he is — and, hey, if you can’t trust this guy, whom can you trust?

There’s more areas I’m sure where I might not be considered liberal. But I’ve got my share of liberal leanings on some issues. I like this planet and am against destroying it. I believe in science. I think if you work hard, you ought to get paid a high enough wage to get by. I believe health care should be a right and support a single-payer system. I think we should make public colleges tuition-free and not hammer students with unfair debt. I am against the anti-LGBT agenda that hides under the cloak of “religious liberty.” And I believe every time a Trump defender says “They’ve found no collusion” that Robert Mueller pats his hand on a 3-foot tall stack of folders labeled “collusion evidence,” rolls his eyes and says quietly, “Uh-huh.”

So, I don’t fit neatly into the Democratic Party, and I darn sure can’t support the GOP’s current agenda and sycophantic Trump worship.

Besides, I still haven’t seen Donald Trump’s birth certificate … or his tax returns.

Which of these do you identify as?

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  • Loved you article in the ledger today about your son going to college in Scotland kilt your heart. Well done. Sam in Seale.

  • Also I wish I could memorize the above article because that’s my political opinion cloned


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