Friday, July 27, 2018

A Word on #WalkAway

Readers have no doubt seen or heard of the #WalkAway campaign where citizens lay claim to having been a Democrat for some time and for various reasons grew tired of the party and “walked away” from it to join the Republican Party.

As with many things where politics are concerned, we also see claims that the campaign is fake or not representative of how people actually feel. There is even been effort to sully the campaign by the use of stock photos of models, denied by the originator of course.

Regardless of whether or not the campaign used the stock photos or has given honest accounts of people fed up and walking away from the party, I can verify that people are in fact walking away. But is it all that unusual for people to be disillusioned and switch parties?

No, not really.

I have said many times in the past that I too was a Democrat at one time, born and raised in a staunchly Southern Democrat family in South Florida that viewed supporting or voting for a Republican tantamount to high treason.

And no, my family wasn’t of the failed Dixiecrat movement, although by and large they were ambivalent towards Civil Rights in the 1960’s, wrongly believing that the segregation then was “just the way things were.”

Growing up I heard much praise for President Harry Truman, elected just months after I was born in 1948, where the famous image of him holding the newspaper with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” was recorded for history.

They didn’t think much of President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his two terms and in 1960 were quite conflicted in the race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President, due to Kennedy being Catholic and fears of the Pope in Rome directing his decisions.

As we know, Kennedy won the election only to be cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, elevating his Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson into the Presidency.

In 1964 Johnson won the election in part by promoting Civil Rights for Black people and drawing more of them to Democrats.

By 1968 I was grown and had moved out of my parents home and was supporting myself, but facing an unpopular war, Vietnam. Johnson had already declined to run and the race again saw Richard Nixon running as a Republican against Johnson’s Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.

Humphrey ran on claims of continuing Johnson’s war on poverty and Civil Rights while Nixon campaigned on restoring law and order to the country after the tumultuous years of the late 1960’s and to offer new leadership in ending the war in Vietnam, declared a “stalemate” by Walter Cronkite earlier in the year.

This was perhaps the first time I gave sincere consideration to a Republican over his claims on Vietnam as well as likely some rebellion on my part against by staunch Democrat parents.

Nixon won by a very slim margin in the popular vote, 43.42% to Humphrey’s 42.72%, but received a significant Electoral College victory, 301 to 191.

Days after Nixon was inaugurated I received my Draft Notice and enlisted in the U.S. Army rather than be drafted.

When the 1972 election rolled around I had completed an extended tour in Vietnam and was now married and stationed in Germany, still supportive of Nixon and missing out on much of the Watergate shenanigans that dominated the news in the U.S.

By my return to the U.S. in March 1974, Vice President Spiro Agnew had already resigned and been replaced by then Speaker of the House, Gerald Ford who went on to become President when Nixon also resigned in August 1974.

Again, I felt conflicted, sold out by the Republicans I moved towards while remaining a Democrat. We had a President that had not been elected in the regular election, but appointed and awarded the office by default.

So I guess it was no surprise that in 1976 I once again backed the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, the former Governor of the State of Georgia.

Now stationed in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina I vividly recall the ads promoting Carter with, “will you let the North whip us again?” As a Southerner this only broadened my support to see a true Southerner back in the Presidency.

Carter won by a small margin against Ford, 50.1% to 48% and an Electoral Vote of 297 to 240. I eagerly waited for Carter to be inaugurated and continue the process of restoring the country still reeling from the tumultuous 60’s.

However, that did not happen. No, Carter became the biggest sell out ever when his first official act in office was to declare amnesty to Draft Dodgers that fled the country to avoid serving in Vietnam.

I took this as the ultimate betrayal from someone I supported in large part to how we were treated by the country upon our return after our tours were finished in Vietnam. Those of us lucky enough to return, that is. To me it was direct slap in the face, the equivalent of declaring those who ran as ‘heroes’ over those of us obeying the law and serving.

It was to me, a breach to never be repaired and in 1980 I proudly voted for the Republican again, Ronald Reagan, primarily to see Carter ousted, as he was.

I now considered myself a full on Republican, lending my support and voted down the line for many years, until after becoming directly involved in the Clark County Republican Party, I saw and was a target from party leaders because I supported a Republican over their chosen one in the 2010 election.

Again, feeling sold out by party, I continued to support most Republicans and not trusting too many Democrats. I even allowed myself to be talked into supporting Republicans I disliked personally and felt should not be elected, all for “party unity.”

Even that was to end in 2014 as a more rabid group of partisans took over control of the Clark County Republican Party and began even more unethical and underhanded means to see their questionable candidates and people elected. Few have been.

I again became the target of an even more aggressive campaign of pure hate for exposing their unethical, dark tactics that now sees me no longer publicly supporting candidates or involving myself in campaigns.

Now I vote according to how I perceive the quality of the candidate, regardless of party and avoid candidates appearing to be hard partisans.

I realize this has been lengthy and apologize for dragging on, but I guess the real moral of it all is simply, I wouldn’t make too much of this #WalkAway campaign.

As you see, we voters have long walked away from both parties and will continue to do so as long as they give us such lousy candidates to vote for and utilize questionable campaign tactics.

While the partisan hacks from both parties bicker back and forth and fight each other or political power, the country continues to fall apart. We deserve candidates that actually care about restoring America and not promoting partisan power for either party!

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