I Began My Voting Life as a Republican
Have you ever changed your party affiliation?
More often than not, people become affiliated with a political party based on their heritage (in my experience).
It's a family tradition.
Even suggesting that someone vote differently than their parents can start an argument.
(Now I was born and raised in the south, so this might be a southern thing, but I fear that this is a tradition throughout rural America.)
Naturally, some people do change their party affiliation. Sometimes, they do so quietly, without telling a soul, except for the ones they are trying to please or impress. For instance, a change might be made due to outside influences such as an employer, a church, or a new spouse.
Those that grew up in a two-party household feel free to explore all of their options. I was one of those lucky ones.
I began my voting life as a Republican, then became an Independent, and eventually realized that the only way I could remain true to my moral and ethical convictions was by finally jumping in with both feet and registering as a Democrat.
Life would be much easier for me today if I had kept that information to myself, but I have always felt strongly about speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, or for those whose voices are being ignored. Therefore, I deal with the angry friends and family. I do have a few family members who see things as I do, and they are a great comfort to me, even the ones who keep it a secret. I get it. I understand.
Changing your political party affiliation can be difficult, especially when family members see it as betrayal. While I do not understand how they rationalize this betrayal, I do understand the power of the feeling, because that's exactly how I feel about voting for Republicans. It betrays every fiber of my being.
It betrays our citizens, especially females and the LGBT community (and those who love them), our minorities, our disabled, and our poverty stricken brothers and sisters. I cannot live by the Golden Rule if I choose to ignore these people, or worse, vote against them.
Now I don't feel this strongly about every election or every Republican, but I do feel that way about the Republican platform of 2016 and the candidates running on that platform.
My observation of this situation is not intended to insult people who feel differently. I'm simply stating the experiences I have had as to when, why, and how people change their political party affiliation.
My intention is to help those who are struggling with their decisions and who are hesitant to make changes because they are afraid of the fallout.
One thing has become abundantly clear based on government data; predominantly Republican states tend to have the highest number of people living in poverty, and are therefore accessing social aids such as food stamps and Medicaid. Yet, they continue to vote for the party that threatens to take all of that away from them.
My second theory on this phenomenon was that perhaps people still think that they will be millionaires one day, so they want to preserve the "I'm better than you" rights of the uber wealthy - for when they "arrive."
However, I just read an article by a former military man, who gives an excellent explanation of what was going through his mind when he was poor, yet voting Republican.
Here are two of his reasons...
To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me. They earned it. My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash.
I didn’t care about tax cuts for myself. I was still paying little if any income tax, but I believed in “fairness.” The “death tax” (aka the estate tax) was unfair and rich people paid more taxes so they should get more of a tax break. I ignored my own personal struggles when I made political decisions.As you can see, his reasons included shame and self deprecation.
Read the rest of his story at Salon.com.