I remember back in elementary school, in Virginia Beach, one of my social studies classes had a guest come in to talk about the voting process. It was a boring lecture for someone that young, years away from voting and not understanding any of the issues at stake, but I do recall how the two parties were described. According to the speaker, the Democratic party was a party open to new ideas and the Republican party was like a stick in the mud (You can imagine their party affiliation).
One might think that would set the wheels in motion for a future Democrat, but it didn’t. That kind of stuff took a backseat to being a kid. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and was about to start college that I officially chose a party. Back then, I registered as a Republican. I was a frequent listener to Neal Boortz (a now retired radio host on WSB) and Sean Hannity and took a shining to the ideals as they were presented to me. It rang true to me at the time as a young adult, looking to make his mark on the world. It sang the praises of those who took the risk and made it in the business world. Self-sufficiency was a prominent theme. Hell no, we shouldn’t raise taxes on the rich, that’s what I’ll be soon! Socialized healthcare? Pshhht, get a job with insurance and pay for it like everyone else. You need foodstamps? Why don’t you get a better job? Any bad situation you’re in is because of poor choices on your part, the public shouldn’t have to help you.
Looking back, it’s somewhat cringeworthy. And by saying that, I’m not implying I’m a Democrat. I have become much much more left leaning, for sure, but I refuse to associate with any party. Instead, I try to come to my own conclusions based on data available to me and what I feel is important. If I’m presented with a better argument, then I’ll adjust my position. I realize that could open one up to being attacked as someone who ‘waffles’, but if you have to take a hard stance on all of your beliefs, you’ll never grow as an individual.
Ultimately, a lot of my stances/beliefs are founded in what I think would make a nation great and what would make me proud if my country did. For instance, I would like to be able to say:
- “Nobody holds off on medical treatment because they can’t afford it.”
- “Nobody goes into financial ruins because they, or a family member, required expensive treatment.”
- “We have fewer homeless because we provide treatment for the mentally ill.” (This is not implying that all homeless people are mentally ill.)
- “Drug addiction isn’t as big of a problem because we now focus on providing treatment for those individuals.”
- “Because we treat drug addiction, instead of punishing, the prison population is now substantially reduced.”
- “All members of our society can seek out higher learning, no matter if it’s for a trade profession or a degree program.”
- “Our society as a whole is healthier in part from our mandated minimum annual leave.” (US is one of the only nations that doesn’t do this.)
- “We use the metric system.” 😀