I am in my early forties, a doctoral candidate, and a public-school teacher of 15 years. I was raised in the Midwest, middle class, in an extremely segregated metro area. It was the 1980s. My family were diehard Reagan Republicans, as was I. Perhaps I still am, though the “Republican” part of that moniker has made me more and more uncomfortable over the past few years.
My first teaching job was in a school where the students spoke 40+ languages at home. The minority and immigrant students were often the hardest working, most respectful students in class. These experiences challenged everything I “knew” about those people.
I’ve been an active member of a conservative Christian church for most of my life. I have always believed in “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;” and “He who is without sin shall cast the first stone.”
I believe in small government, a strong economy, and a strong foreign policy dedicated to promoting democracy abroad. I’ve never been wholly beholden to party labels, and have often voted for Democrats if I thought they were best candidate, but have definitely voted Republican in the vast majority of elections (of which I’ve never missed one since my 18th birthday in 1993 – primaries and local elections included).
The past several years though, I started seeing comments online about how Republicans hated homosexuals, immigrants, minorities, the poor, etc. Basically, the label of Republican seemed to be more and more synonymous with hate. At first I thought the comments about Republicans were unfair generalizations. But it grew. And grew. Now, I feel like the Republican party I knew is dead. No one cares about what’s best for the country; just what’s best for their donors and beating the “other guy.”
That’s why I say I have no party – I’m a conservative who sees no productive value in hate or blaming the “other guy,” and I feel very alone in that combination.
What I wish for the future.
I wish facts mattered again.
I wish all “news” media would clearly identify opinion pieces versus rigorous journalism.
I wish more people did charity work in person – rather than just write a check.
I wish we all talked with someone different from us often – racially, politically, socio-economically, etc.
I wish the very few ultra-rich would get their money out of politics – didn’t that used to be illegal?
I wish everything wasn’t a political divide.
I wish we all wanted a better world for our children – really wanted it rather than just giving lip service.
I wish we all sincerely sought solutions as often as we complained about problems.
Contributing Editor: Juli Dempewolf
Currently living in Northern Virginia and teaching public school. I love traveling and meeting new people all over this great country.
She can be found on twitter @jcdempewolf