Views from an independent, former Republican and Democrat voter

For what they are worth, the following are the views of an old fart who can sing the lyrics with truth behind them to Paul McCartney’s song about age; “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four.” I have been a Republican for over 20 years and Democrat for less than five. Around the 2007-08 timeframe, I left the GOP to become an Independent voter.

I would add I am more conservative, especially in financial matters, and more progressive in other issues. I believe in helping people climb a ladder when needed, but we need to be able to pay for it. I am also a big believer in Teddy Roosevelt’s mantra of a Square Deal, meaning giving everyone equal opportunity and I am also a believer in Franklin Roosevelt’s Fair Deal, which helped people who were disenfranchised and broken.

Politics seems to be less about policy and more about designed, fabricated and embellished wedge issues. To be frank, the Republican party public relation spin doctors do not want their candidates to speak about real issues, unless it is blame someone that they really have little control over. Democrats embellish and even lie as well, but it is not a normal distribution being heavily tilted to the right.

Let me set aside the obvious concerns this election and speak to a few policy concerns.

-the Republican Party has no platform, as they did not vote on one in the 2020 GOP presidential convention in Charlotte. Senator Rick Scott, who is heading the Senate campaign, came up with one, but it did not reach consensus. This is a one reason Republicans will not tell you what they will do to solve the problems as they don’t know. The PR people said don’t put a stake in the ground and no one can fault you for it. So, ask them “what do you plan to do about it?”

-Democrats are not perfect, but they are at least addressing or attempting to address issues. A gun governance law was passed (although watered down to garner votes by Republicans), laws impacting infrastructure funding, climate change funding, renewable energy measures, and health care premium and drug costs stabilization were passed and subsidies were passed to help people during the pandemic, building off the ones passed under Trump’s tenure. We also returned to the Paris Climate Change Accord. While an abatement is being provided on federal student loans, I personally would have rather seen something deal with healthcare debt, which is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy.

-Outside of the pandemic help, the key thrusts of the Trump administration were to repeal and replace the ACA (which thankfully failed), give a huge tax break to the wealthy and corporations, masking that the middle class may not come out ahead with limitations on state tax deductions and place tariffs on our trading partners which upset markets causing supply chain issues which were worsened by the pandemic. We also harmed our relationships by focusing more on the transactional and we pulled out of three major accords that went on without us – the Paris Climate Change Accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership to better compete with China and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

-We should be talking more about what should matter most to people – helping them feed their families, pay for healthcare and keep a roof over their heads. We must deal more with environmental issues as a steward of this country and planet – on top of climate change, we have a global water crisis, that is being exacerbated even worse by climate change and lack of decision-making. If that were not enough, we have a lead pipe issue for distributing the diminished water supply. And, we must protect all people’s rights, not just those who look or worship a certain way. Finally, we have too many in a country this successful going to bed hungry. That is a damn shame.

-What we don’t need to be talking about is contrived issues that really don’t matter a whole lot. I won’t even mention them now as that would give them more cover than they deserve. If I did not mention it above, with the exceptions below, then maybe it is not that big of an issue.

The exceptions are two. We have a debt and deficit problem in our country that has been made worse with the last two administrations. Neither party does well with this issue. Neither. The GOP likes to beat on their chest about it, but made the debt worse under the previous president. The current administration did something about, but that is after making it worse with pandemic subsidies. Obama did something about, but only because both parties put in this sequestration fall back position that made cuts if no deal was reached. No deal was reached.

We have immigration concerns, but the problem is nowhere near as bad as portrayed and was not that bad in 2016 either, even though it was played up. I would ask Republicans if you want to deal with immigration, why did Speaker John Boehner not bring to a vote a bipartisan immigration bill which passed the Senate, which had enough votes to pass the House? Why did the former president renege on his number one campaign issue when a bipartisan deal was reached to give $25 billion for his border wall for making DACA a law? The reason is PR people told the GOP not resolving immigration issues was a more winning issue than solving them – not my words, by the way, but I agree.

Setting aside all of the above, as an independent, I feel my old Republican party is adrift an untethered to the truth. Michael Gerson, a conservative pundit, said the “party is in decay.” When the truth tellers are vilified and the liars aggrandized, it is does not lead to gravitas and veritas. If you tout a Big Lie, then it greases the skids to lie about more things. I believe our voters need to send a strong message to any Republican who touts the former president’s bogus election fraud story and to any Republican who has rationalized his deceitful and illicit behavior. They are perpetuating a fraud on the American people and many know they are so doing, which is even worse.

I encourage people to research how candidates stand on issues. If they support the Big Lie, then dig even deeper. And, know there is one party bent on restricting dissenting votes leveraging the Big Lie. My advice is know the rules and vote. And, remember who wants you not to as you do, as your voice does matter.

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Recent history lessons

After seeing the border wall with Mexico touted by more than a few candidates as a campaign issue, I felt a recent history lesson would help the focus. Both parties have failed to address fixes to our immigration system over the years, but the “build that wall” issue is one touted as the major solution dating back to the famous escalator ride by a former president to announce his candidacy. The following is a letter I sent to my newspaper.

As campaigners speak of the border crisis as a major issue, we should remember our history. In June 2013, a bipartisan group of eight Senators helped pass a pretty good immigration bill in the Senate by a vote of 68-32. Yet, Speaker John Boehner refused to bring it to a vote in the House as not resolving the issue was better politically for his party. This led to President Obama’s executive order on DACA as the House would not act.

A few years later, President Trump agreed to a deal of $25 billion for his wall and to allow DACA to become law one morning with Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin. By that afternoon, Graham and Durbin arrived for the big announcement only to find the more hard core Senators convinced Trump not doing anything would be better politically. Mind you the wall was his #1 issue, but he reneged on his deal.

We can solve problems only if we act instead of beating on our chests saying we will.

A recent immigration stance history

Our friend Jill wrote that Nebraska GOP State Senator John McCollister noted the majority of Republicans used to support Roe v Wade, but the party leadership decided in the late 1970s, it was an issue the party could use to peel off religious voters from Democrats. So, winning became more important than governance.

The change in stance reminds me of immigration, with both parties supporting humane and thoughtful immigration reform for decades. After the Gang of Eight (including GOP Senator Marco Rubio) helped the Senate pass a good bill on immigration in 2013, GOP Speaker John Boehner refused to have a vote even though some Republicans would have passed it with the Democrats. Party leadership felt it could be a winning divisive issue. What amazed me is when Rubio, two years later in his campaign for president, disowned his greatest legislative achievement.

This Boehner move led to DACA two years later, an executive order by Obama. Mind you, executive orders are a poor substitute for laws, regardless of who signs them. Scrolling forward to the “sh**hole country” comment day in the spring of 2018, Trump agreed to a deal with Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin of $25 billion for his wall in trade for DACA being made into law.

After the agreement was achieved in the morning, Senator Tom Cotton and others got in Trump’s ear and said immigration was still a divisive issue to help the election. So, by the afternoon, poor Graham and Durbin showed up for what they thought was a press conference to announce the deal. But, Trump backed away from his deal and uttered the quote above about not allowing immigrants from “sh**hole countries.” Setting this aside, picture how Graham and Durbin must have felt to have a negotiator turn on you after a deal was struck.

This is about winning elections not governance. A wedge issue to win votes, not govern. It should be noted, this one helped backfire on the Republicans when they lost the House majority that fall. Treating people like dirt when they are trying to escape danger and poverty is not a good answer to the question made into bracelets – WWJD?

Outside of his misinformation and mishandling of COVID-19, caging children away from their parents is probably the best metaphor for this presidency. Whether we let people enter, we should treat all people with dignity and respect, but especially children. Maybe we should put that on a billboard – The president who caged children.