I was a young Republican once upon a time.
In the eighties, I loved Reagan, Prince and mall girls. Not necessarily in that order. As the years went by, my philosophies would change according to the education I was getting from the world I was busy growing up inside of.
I voted for George H. in ’92. I wasn’t buying the new age politics that Clinton and Gore were selling. Having gone into business for myself the year before, I was leery of how a democratic administration might adversely affect my costs of doing business. I guess it’s true what they say about all politics being local.
My wife at the time, she was a dyed in the wool liberal girl and we would have the most animated debates imaginable. At the end of a long day, it was a favorite thing of mine to sit across from her with my beverage of choice in hand and let her know that I loved her in spite of the fact she was wrong. Her counter-punch was every bit as provocative, and we would just go. Nothing ever got solved, but at the end of the evening we knew the differences didn’t matter one bit. What mattered was the spirit engendered, the mutual respect we were able to fortify.
When Newt Gingrich and the Republicans swept into Congress during the mid term elections of ’94, I was feeling pretty good about things. I liked Newt. So much so that I went to see him speak at a dinner a couple years later at Franklin and Marshall College. He spoke for forty minutes, and I dug his wit and smarts. Even if I had swung my vote to Bill Clinton a couple weeks earlier.
Things had changed in the interim, and so had I.
In the infamous national election of 2000, I voted for George W. And within a couple years, I was suffering from buyer’s remorse on account of how he handled our post 9/11 world. While I was sold on his strength and dignity inside the immediate aftermath, I was selling on my vote by mid 2002.
I didn’t vote for history in 2008, instead giving my vote to John McCain. In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney because I saw him as a bridge builder and financial wizard. And while I don’t regret my votes, I also do not resent the man who beat them. Because unlike certain of those right wing peeps, I always recognized Barack as my President. I respected the class and dignity and soul he brought to the office. And the fact that he loved Five Guys burgers and Guinness drafts, well . . I loved that too.
I voted for Hilary a year and a half ago, because I happened to agree with her on many points. And while Trump being in the other corner helped, it wasn’t the deciding factor. Truth be told, I had a brief flirtation with Marco Rubio before going all in on Hilary.
I was inspired to confess myself thanks to that picture. Because if those political giants can find their better angels, so too can I. And I’m thankful for the great expectations it provided me in the midst of a less hopeful time.
Because I don’t believe that progress is about making America ‘great again’. To my way of thinking, democracy is a forward thinking endeavor whose best days are always ahead of us. The verity of a unified republic is the trust it adheres to. A trust in our principles, beliefs and our differences.
If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, let’s start with that.