Shortly after moving to Utah, 10 years ago, it became time to register to vote. I did my usual thing and registered as a Republican.
My wife, on the other hand, said she just couldn’t align herself with the evolving Republican ideology, particularly in Utah, and registered as a Democrat. Over the next few years, the joke in the family was, “Mike, come register as a Democrat. Come over to the ‘dark side’.” I started to realize, however, that I was already there. I was on the dark side and she had moved on toward the light.
In the end, here are the concrete reasons that drove me to change my party affiliation and become an active participant in the Democratic Party.
- Education – While I feel that some efforts are made by both parties, I saw the Democrats consistently putting the effort forward and putting their money where their mouths were. A budget is a translation of thought into action. Time after time, I would see budget cuts for education as one of the first responses by Republican leadership.
- Compassion for the poor and needy – Again, my belief in social contract infers that we have a duty to care for those in need. And, beyond that, if we believe the Book of Mormon, that responsibility is not just philosophy. I felt that I was hearing a contradictory tune from the GOP, over and over again. “The poor bring it upon themselves.” King Benjamin made it very clear that we are all beggars.
- Environment – I believe we have a stewardship to take care of the earth that was given to us. Yes, it was created and man was given dominion over all things. But the scriptures warn against the exercise of “unrighteous dominion.” Denying that man has abused the land, polluted the air and fouled the water in the name of progress and profit, is just as ridiculous as saying that climate change is a myth or that man’s activities are not significantly responsible. Science and religious truth are not in conflict. They will come together in harmony when all truth comes into one understanding.
- Social Responsibility – As I have examined the two main party positions, neither is perfect. However, I feel that the Democrats have at least made an attempt to be sensitive to all levels of societal strata. I feel that the Republicans continue to provide a litany of excuses as to why we don’t need or want to do this. “Love thy neighbor” was the commandment. The Savior didn’t say “except this group, or except this group, oh, and not that group either”.
- Human and Civil Rights – or Agency – A war was fought eons ago to provide us with agency and with choice. We may not agree with the way someone believes or thinks. But they have a fundamental right to choose. We don’t have to facilitate or support each person’s choices, but neither do we have the right to deny them that freedom. Efforts have been made to legislate or forcefully impose morality throughout time. They have been met with little long lasting success. Our efforts are much better served by teaching the gospel of love and making sure our own light is shining.
- Hypocrisy – Am I ever a hypocrite? I’d be one if I said no. However, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t hear on the news, or see in social media where someone in a position of leadership or representation in the GOP does not make a statement that makes my mouth drop open. Gross insensitivity to those things mentioned above. I just couldn’t handle being associated with the party any longer. Out of good conscience, I HAD TO CHANGE.
So, these are the reasons I finally terminated my membership in the Republican Party. I now have been a registered Democrat for several years. Not only am I registered, but I decided that real change required action. I started with the neighborhood caucuses, became a precinct chair and convention delegate, helped with the events committee and donated my time to help with fundraisers and Get Out The Vote calling for the election.
I don’t say any of this to toot my own horn. Rather, I want to make it clear that you are never too old to change. I am at the extreme upper fringe of middle aged. I want to tell you that you are never too old to see the light and make a difference. If you have a family member or friend who is still struggling with their Republican positions, take heart. Remember, everyone can see the light, it just takes some of us stubborn old goats a little longer to get the picture.
(This post is part two in a series. To read part one, go here.)