My Journey From GOP Voter to Democratic Activist

8 mins read
Patriotism is the Democratic Party

Ever since Ronald Reagan, I could be faithfully counted on to vote for the GOP presidential nominee. That was until Donald Trump was nominated in 2016.

My loyalty to the party went up in smoke then, clouding my political horizon for the first two years of his presidency. I spoke out from the beginning, tweeting and blogging. But it wasn’t until this past summer that I became a full-on Democratic activist. 

Often we take our social and political cues from the people around us. From the mid–1980s onward, I spent a lot of time in organizations that supported the GOP. My times of greatest personal prosperity happened during Republican administrations. I also became Catholic in the South in 2008. Trust me when I say my church friends, for the most part, are single-issue voters.

I had worked as a reporter, earning a reputation for fairness and exploring both sides of any issue. Still, I did not see or feel the great societal divides that were trembling beneath me like the California quakes, not even after moving back to Georgia.

I didn’t pay enough attention during the Gingrich and the Tea Party eras to how Republican politics were shifting. I voted for John McCain in 2008, and it was only after I read and saw Game Change that I was horrified by his selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. 

What time and energy I had during the Obama years was spent in various church ministries in leadership and service roles. It didn’t bother me that a Democratic president held the reins of government. I believed that when it came to things like the military, the rule of law and our love of country, both political parties had more in common than differences.

But I was disturbed when Republican friends constantly denigrated Obama. They didn’t have to say it was because of the color of his skin, not his presidential policies, I just knew.

Instead of being so caught up in the history of the Tudors, the courts of Versailles and Tsarist Russia, I should have read more about our own American Civil War. Living in the South, the reminders were omnipresent. But I believed the Lost Cause was truly lost in an Antebellum past.

I was wrong. The Civil War was seething all around me like the kudzu that takes over the trees lining Georgia’s back roads. And it was surprisingly alive in other parts of the nation that never had a distant family relationship to Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson.

Who knew it would be a self-promoting, New York bankrupted “billionaire” con man gliding down his golden escalator who would bring us back to greater civil unrest and a nation more divided than any time since Lincoln’s? 

Never would I vote for Donald Trump. I had read too much about him over the years and knew he was completely incompetent—by experience, background, and temperament—to hold the office of president. I knew he lacked the necessary character. I knew he had no heart.

And I watched with disbelief as 15 other Republican candidates were bowled over by his grade school taunts. When Jeb Bush dropped out of the race, I left behind the idea there was another GOP candidate I could support.

In the beginning, you could have called me a “Never Trumper,” although I quickly adopted the hashtag #Resist in my Twitter bio. I already saw in Trump the authoritarianism that has become an increasing danger to our nation. I knew when the party chose not to block Trump at the Republican National Convention that they had capitulated to a man unfit to lead.

But after a while, it wasn’t enough to be against Trump. I had to be for something that was better than he was. Better than what Republicans were willing to tolerate for the sake of tax cuts for billionaires and corporations and the appointment of conservative judges. 

So I became a Democrat again after more than 35 years of voting Republican. It wasn’t hard; there has been so much harm done under the now forever-tarnished GOP banner. Even as a Republican I never would have supported a border wall, family separation, a Muslim ban, unarmed black men and women gunned down in the streets, voter suppression, unemployment that reached Depression-era levels and a lack of concerted government efforts to control COVID–19. So many, many dead.

It is not hard to be for Joe Biden. He is compassionate, and he knows government inside and out, having served for so long in the Obama era and before.

It is not hard to be for Kamala Harris, who is whip smart, a skilled interrogator and has a smile that is full of warmth and heart.

It is not hard to be for accessible healthcare for all. A healthy society is a productive society.

It is not hard to be for a living wage. Everyone deserves the dignity of food and shelter after working hard at their job.

It is not hard to help the vulnerable in our society. The Lord commanded us, as a community, to do so. We are the “United” States.

It is not hard to favor equality. We are all God’s children.

It is not hard to be in favor of a greener society to stave off devastating climate change. God created a beautiful world he expected us to steward, not despoil.

It is not hard to call for equal justice because those words are emblazoned in stone at the Supreme Court.

It is not hard to be for accessibility to the ballot box for citizens of all ages. It is guaranteed in the Constitution.

It is not hard to be for the First Amendment. It is first for a reason, as our Revolutionary history clearly details.

It is not hard to expect decency and consideration from each other. It’s what we all deserve.

But we cannot do that with a president who believes in tearing us down and ripping us apart, rather than bringing us together and building back better than before.

It is not hard to be president for all the people. But Donald Trump has shown over the past four years he cannot and will never be that.

It is not hard to vote for Joe Biden. Because he can be the president for all the people.


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