For twenty-two years, I was a registered Republican.
In the ’90s, it was pretty easy: The Republicans were the party of small government, of fiscal sensibility, of moderation, and of prosperity. The Democrats were the “crazy hippies,” the tie-dyed tree-huggers who wanted us to eat nothing but kale and drive only solar-powered cars. And while I didn’t agree with the social conservatism of certain parts of the Republican Party, or the weird racist crowd in the South, those were small fringe groups, and they were easy to ignore. The Republicans represented centrism and sensibility.
Today, those small fringe groups rule the Republican Party. It has gone from being the party of sensibility and moderation to being the party of extremism and racism and hatred. I cannot support Trump. I will never support Trump. Everything he stands for is something I’m against. He is not “classy.” He is not “yuge.” He is not “tremendous.” He’s an overgrown schoolyard bully, a bigot, a strongman, and willfully a fascist, and he bankrupts and ruins everything he touches.
So today, I reregistered: I am now an Independent.
On the down side, this change comes at a severe cost in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: By doing so, I effectively gave up my right to vote in primary elections. But I cannot associate myself with the elements that drive the Republican Party. They do not stand for what I stand for, and I worry they may never do so again.
But on the plus side, I now join the most-heavily courted of all voter blocs: I am an educated Independent voter, in a swing county, in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania. My vote matters, and today, I just made sure that my vote no longer comes with strings attached. I can vote my conscience, and no-one can tell me otherwise.
So goodbye, Republicans. Goodbye, Gallant Old Party. Goodbye, Party of Lincoln. You were a good thing, once.
I’ve watched with great interest the chase of Edward Snowden. And it’s resulted in a change in my attitude toward government.
Once upon a time, I distrusted government, but I generally assumed that they were simply too incompetent to do anything truly malicious. These are the same people that can’t decide what color to paint a wall, my reasoning went, so there’s no way they could possibly be capable enough to be able to apply the level of evil so many of their detractors accuse them of. That, and there are so many bureaucratic checks and balances that they’re at best handicapped; I envisioned NSA spying on a level only slightly less primitive than tying an extra string to a tin-can telephone.
And then Snowden. Good news, crackpots, you’re not paranoid. Instead of the government being a well-paid collection of Mr. Magoo’s closest relatives, they suddenly morphed into the worst Orwellian nightmare Hollywood can depict. Even as I write this, I’m not at all sure that these very words aren’t placing me on a watch list — if I’m not on one already for having a brain in my head and a tendency to ask probing and awkward questions.