My first vote ever in a national election was for Barry Goldwater. Goldwater’s platform was that less government was better. I had been a very independent teenager and remained, though in the United States Marine Corps at the time, a very independent young man. I saw no need for the government to go messing in my life or anyone else’s. A lot of that is still with me.
About 30 years later one of my sons and I helped get Ross Perot on the Minnesota ballot by getting signatures on a petition. We worked the front of the local grocery store. Perot’s platform was about what he called “the crazy aunt in the basement.” The crazy aunt that no one talked about was the budget deficit and the national debt. Ross promised to eliminate both of them.
Somewhere between those two, Matt and I went to see Jesse Jackson during his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. We stood by the entrance door and got to shake his hand as he came into the auditorium. We even went to the local Democratic caucus to try to get him on the ballot.
Jesse, of course is as far from Barry and Ross, ideologically, as you can get, but I wasn’t into ideology as much as I was into fairness. It was time for a Black person to make an entrance onto the national political scene.
Since then I have tried to reconcile what I see as good about the Republican Party with what I see as good about the Democrats. My grandmother, “Nina” (nih nah) was a dyed in the wool Democrat. She had family pictures in her little government owned apartment, but the biggest and most prominent photos were of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F Kennedy. A non-attending, but contributing, Methodist, her heart was with the poor. In all-white government housing in the 1950s her house was a regular stop for the Black mail carrier for a glass of ice water at her kitchen table. And the fatherless children knew they could find an open ear at her house.
Today I have problems with both parties. My beef with the Democrats is their adamant support for killing off unborn babies. That’s the same reason I cut off support for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Republicans, on the other hand exude meanness toward the poor, toward strangers, and by extension at least toward people of color.
Neither can I reconcile calling myself an independent because there is a capitol “I” Independent party that picks up the deal breaker positions from one or both of the other two parties.
So here I sit, with another national election warming up, and no suitable party to turn to. Do we have to start our own?