Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bob Dole for President!

Twenty years ago I cast my first ballot in a presidential election. I was 18 years old, idealistic, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and uninformed. It was perfect. I, like many teenagers, didn't know a lot about politics. Many kids get their political views from their parents. My parents voted but did not (at that time - it's changed) have extremely vocal political views. I made my political choices in 1996 to be antagonistic. I'm sure that's not surprising.

My high school brought all the members of my senior class (all 35 of us!) into the auditorium, and we were given the opportunity to register to vote. All of us but two registered as Democrats because that's what their parents were. Granted in a Dixiecrat state being a "Democrat" means being pro-life, pro-gun, pro-death penalty...you know, a Republican. I talked one of my friends into registering as a Republican with me, because we didn't want to be like everybody else. That was really the extent of my thoughts. Well and that and I like argyle. I also grew up watching Family Ties with a huge crush on Alex P. Keaton. He taught me much about politics.

That year Bill Clinton was the incumbent and Democratic nominee. He was being challenged by Republican Senator Bob Dole. I decided to vote for Bob Dole for one main reason: decorum. This was actually before the Lewinsky scandal broke, but there were lots of rumors that painted Bill Clinton as a cad including the accusations by Paula Jones. My young, idealistic self didn't know what the truth was behind those allegations, but I knew one thing: I wanted my President to be steadfast, honest, and not someone who would have sexual relations with that woman. 

As I cast my ballot I talked my mom into voting for Senator Dole as well. One of my elementary school teachers was fighting a tough election for the WV House of Delegates, and I told my mom I wouldn't vote for him unless she voted for Bob Dole. My mom will learn for the first time in reading this blog that I always intended to vote for Mr. Pethtel but I wanted to get her to vote my way. I didn't know it then but it was my first time lobbying. It was certainly not the last time I played hardball to get the vote I want.

In 1998 my study abroad roommate in Germany was from College Station, Texas. Her parents were friends with Texas Governor George W. Bush. She had great things to say about him. She, being an opera singer, sang at his gubernatorial inauguration. In the 2000 Presidential election I voted for him because he seemed like a good dude. Also how often do you know someone who knows a Presidential candidate and vouches for him? 

I hated and still hate the Iraq war. I spent much of 2003 and 2004 being angry. I was alone at Fort Hood, Texas while the man in my life at that time was overseas fighting some enemy that we're still fighting (only now it's a different enemy?) Don't get my started on my feelings about the war. But even with that I stood by W. in 2004 and voted for him over John Kerry.

In 2004 I took a job working for the Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia. On my first day we were chatting in his office and started to walk to a meeting. He stopped me in the doorway and said, "Are you a Democrat or a Republican?" I told him I'd always identified as a Republican, and he told me to never tell anyone that as long as I worked for him. It was in that job that I learned how to be politically agnostic.

Fast forward two years and I've decided to upend my life by taking a job working for the Michigan House Republican Policy Office.  When Norfolk's Vice Mayor found out I was leaving she said incredulously, "Girl I cannot believe you're a Republican." I moved north, threw myself into partisan policy and learned a lot including that I'm not really very Republican. I also discovered I'm not a Democrat either. Neither label works for me. It turns out I really AM politically agnostic. 

In 2008 I looked at the ballot that held a one-term US Senator in Barack Obama and a grizzled veteran of both Congress and the military, Senator John McCain. I was unable to wrap my head around a one-term US Senator being President. Regardless of political views it seemed like he was not qualified. Even when McCain went with crazy town Sarah Palin as his running mate I voted for him.

I did not make the same mistake in 2012. At this point I'd been lobbying for five years. I have seen both the inside and outside of the political system, and I wasn't going to vote for Mitt Romney. You know what actually gets me about Romney? I think he was a good governor. He made some very moderate decisions as Governor of Massachusetts including universal health care. I loved that about him. But as he threw it all away and ran to the right, I cast my first ballot for a Democrat for President. You're welcome, Barry.

And then we come to the dumpster fire that is 2016. I am voting for the exact same reason I did in 1996: I cannot vote for someone who is a total cad and does not possess the decorum required by the Office of President of the United States. In retrospect I think Bill Clinton was an excellent President, but I stand by my 1996 vote. I haven't always been pro-Hillary. I read her book Living History when it came out 2003 and really disliked her. I felt like she spent the book making excuses for all of the challenges in their political life. 

Now I see it a little differently. One doesn't spend decades in public service without their every move being scrutinized. Hillary lived out the pain of marital infidelity in the press. Also Donald Trump needs to STOP comparing his behavior to Bill's. Bill is not running for President, and last time I checked I am not responsible for my husband's behavior any more than Hillary is responsible for hers. Even if Hillary's email situation gives one pause, there is zero comparison to the behavior of her opponent. 

The Access Hollywood tape is indefensible. Making fun of immigrants and people with disabilities is indefensible. I actually turned the TV off during Hillary's ad asking if this is what we want our children to see because I did not want my two-year-old seeing Donald Trump's behavior. My political views have evolved and will continue to evolve, but I remain committed that being President requires both experience and decorum. There's no room for racism, sexism and a running mate that is disturbingly homophobic. What scares me the most is that the widespread support for Donald Trump actually means that so many in our country believe in his tenants of hate and vilification. That is terrifying.

I'm voting because I shouldn't have to say "ear muffs"to him when our President is speaking.
Running for President on a whim doesn't work for me. It's got to be earned. Hillary has earned it. I could not possibly care less about what's happened with her emails, and if you're hung up on that take a watch of the other nominee blatantly mocking a disabled person and bragging about sexual assault.  I voted for Bob Dole for the same reasons I'm voting for Hillary Clinton: decorum and experience. Sometimes sticking with your designated party and usual political views just isn't good enough.  #Imwithher 

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