Reflections on rejecting long-held ideologies

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I was raised Republican.

I was born a God-fearing, tax-cutting, gun-protecting Reagan-ite and that was what I remained for almost my whole life.

As anyone who reads this column regularly could tell you, my conservative views have been somewhat tempered by my obssessive need to please everyone, but I would be at best a moderate.

I registered Democrat when it was time to vote, but this mainly had to do with a girl I was seeing at the time and the fact that no one in my family was a Democrat, so I knew I could shake ’em up.

The first election I ever voted in was the 2000 election, where I was quite excited about exercising my voting privileges (and yes, I’m that big of a dork).

Confronted with a choice between Bush and Gore and the Libertarian guy, I finally decided to vote for Bush despite the fact that he made me somewhat queasy with his apparent lack of intellect and common sense.

I did agree with the whole notion of a new Republican, however. New Republicans believed in staying fiscally conservative, but promoting socially moderate (or even socially liberal) policies for the most part.

While I didn’t agree with everything the new Republicans had to say, I liked the majority of it.

So I voted Bush, because he had been branded a new Republican.

And now I wish I could take that vote back.

It’s somewhat hard for me to have turned on my heritage like this. Virtually everyone in my family is a lifetime Republican and I come from the county where 62.1 percent of the populace voted straight-ticket Republican.

So I come to this with some trepidition.

But I come to it with a lot of thought.

At this point, I don’t really care who the Democrats throw up against Bush in 2004. He or she could be the vilest human being the Democrats have on their side (Ted Kennedy, say) and I would fill in their little box with that state-provided pencil.

Ideologically, Bush has drifted from right-of-center, where he pretended to reside for much of his campaign, to a place that appears to be to the ultra-right of ultra-right.

I jest, of course. There are those in the Republican party who live farther right than Bush, but these people are retiring or dying (see Strom Thurmond) at an alarming right. Soon, our President and his cabinet will be further right than anyone else in elected office in this country.

By and large, it’s incredibly hard for one administration to muck up the whole country (Presidents as diverse as Andrew Johnson and Warren G. Harding have tried and the U.S. just keeps on ticking). However, this administration has decided to muck up other countries in lieu of mucking this one up.

The Bush administration has been advocating war with Iraq for so long now that it seems we’re already at war with them.

Of course, we aren’t, but Bush is going out of his way to beat his drum and force our troops into a war that will continue to stretch our military thinner and thinner.

Our service men and women are the best in the world. They do their job well. That said, the people calling the shots for them are not the greatest military minds we’ve ever had.

Bush insists Iraq is evil. He harps on it endleslly. This is incredibly likely, but the proof he has provided has sufficiently convinced Britain and the Republican establishment. Everyone else remains queasy.

I’m not asking the President to call me and have a sit-down tea with me to discuss these issues (though it would be cool). I’m asking him to provide some shred of proof that will turn the worldwide scales in his favor.

It’s not like card-carrying liberals are the only ones opposing war with Iraq. Numerous conservatives oppose the war, chief among them Pat Buchanan, one of the four or five most conservative voices in our nation.

Buchanan’s main beef with the war is that it would continue to destabilize an already tenuous area. A war with Iraq would likely tip Pakistan into the control of forces who sympathize with the Taliban.

And Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Which could be turned over to, say, Osama bin Laden.

If this is how the world ends, consider this my official complaint.

4Write Todd VanDerWerff at [email protected].