When I first registered to vote, my dad explained the process and said I could choose Republican or Conservative. I chose Conservative, thinking at the time I might learn something about politics and get involved. I couldn't have been more wrong, and at some point I switched my party affiliation to Republican, so I could at least vote in primaries.
This was the pre-Fox Republican party. This was a time when Democrats and Republicans could talk politics and remain friends . . . when Congress members on both sides of the aisle discussed issues, compromised, and voted with their hearts and brains rather than out of some misguided knee-jerk sense of party loyalty. A time when they attended the same functions and actually socialized together.
I married a Republican who never watched TV and got his news from The Wall Street Journal and NPR. Yes, NPR. To those who are surprised because you assume NPR leans left, Joe felt "All Things Considered" offered the best in-depth, balanced news reporting. I agree.
Over the years I voted more like an Independent. Contrary to what a Social Studies teacher taught my high school class, I voted for the person, not the party. I didn't vote for Clinton. I did vote for Obama. Twice. But I was still a registered Republican, and one reason was that I could have lots of fun wearing my "Republicans for Obama" button.
But when a lying, cheating, stealing egomaniac moved into the White House last year I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't take him, I couldn't take his handlers, and I couldn't take the state of the Republican party. During the years when I hadn't been paying attention, many Republican members of Congress had turned into a bunch of self-serving suck-up lemmings. I wanted to distance myself from all of them, and all of it, as best I could, so I changed my party affiliation again and became a Democrat.
But now, when it's more important than ever to keep pressure on our elected officials, I have the feeling my new voting status will eliminate any possibility of a Republican Congressman taking my opinion seriously. I think they'll very likely say, "Oh. She's a Democrat. She's not going to vote for me anyway, so I don't care what she thinks." Or they'll think I'm stating the Democratic party line. Since they don't think for themselves, but parrot their party line, they probably think everyone else operates this way too.
Life was a great deal more pleasant when I never thought about politics and related issues. But once your eyes have been opened, it's hard to close them again.