If you have children, how can you be a Republican?
Today is my son’s first birthday. Liam has changed the planet. Everything is different. The world affects me in ways it didn’t previously. I now feel fear and love like never before. Worry for his future is constant and I have nightmares where he is lost to me. I dread the thought of failing him.
Yet my heart grows with him, bigger every day. I did not know I could love this much. He teaches me something new every minute. His smile is pure and honest. He hates nobody. He is the happiest human being I have ever met. How can I not try to make the world better for him? How can I tell him I would let bad things happen to it? What reason could I possibly give him that would be good enough? That I was afraid? That I didn’t care? That I didn’t want to try?
Mostly, I feel hope for Liam. I relish seeing him grow while at the same time wanting him to stay the age he is. I want the best for him, and look forward to helping him learn about life and love. I don’t necessarily look forward to preparing him for the worst of the world, but I have no choice. You can see bad things everywhere, after all.
I see water supplies poisoned. The needs of the many outweighed by the greed of a few. I see discrimination justified by politics and/or religion. Insane people with firearms. Politicians calling for war, again, while voting to deny benefits for veterans. News channels that only tell one side of the story or, worse, make stuff up to fill airtime.
None of this is anything new of course, especially to the parents reading this. These issues are as old as humanity itself. But Liam makes them bigger, more urgent. He makes everything this way. My wife and I can barely watch “The Walking Dead” when Baby Judith is onscreen. The thought of her in danger sends us over the edge. If a fictional show about zombies can do that, you can guess what effect the news can have.
So I will do my best to prepare him for the bad things. I will teach him how to think, not what to think. I will teach him to temper ambition with justice. That power must go hand in hand with responsibility. Strength is meant to protect others, not intimidate them. Those who would intimidate you will not reason with you, and will not go away if you ignore them.
Use your head. Think before you speak and before you act. It is never okay to discriminate against anyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, orientation, or whatever else. It is okay to feel fear because we all do, but do your best to not give in to it. Honesty. Integrity. Honor. Love.
And so Republicans, at the time of this writing, this means I oppose you. I see your motivations as protecting the uber-wealthy. I see you suppressing the rights of women, of LGBT Americans, of immigrants and ethnic minorities. I see the damage you do to the nation with your obstruction. I have not forgotten that your previous administrations caused enormous damage not only to the United States, but the world.
CPAC 2014 is happening during my son’s first birthday. Mitch McConnell brandishes a rifle high above his head in a manner that can hardly be classified as “responsible.” Wayne LaPierre, NRA ghoul, preens for the conservative base. Paul Ryan tries to justify why poor schoolchildren should not be fed. Ted Cruz calls his President a dictator while Sarah Palin calls him weak. Rudy Giuliani praising Vladimir Putin. They don’t just appear to me as bad guys, but as maggots roiling in a bloated corpse.
I am not a registered Democrat. I hold values classified as both liberal and conservative. I don’t think Obama is perfect, and don’t agree with everything he does. But the thought of a Republican majority government terrifies me. All I can see them bringing is war and poverty.
Perhaps in a few years the Republican Party will regain its sanity. But for right now, controlled as they are by their right wing extremist fringe, I can only see how they make the world worse for everyone. I can’t stand by and let them go unopposed. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of my son.
And so I write. I write what I see, and I hope to reach people. For now, that is what I can do. Help motivate others. Help them see that they are not alone. Let them know that we can stand up to those who would bully us. Even if you feel your vote would do nothing, it is important.
In the end, you cannot have liberty without equal opportunity. A healthy society does not abandon the sick and the wounded, and the destitute deserve our help. We are free to practice religion if we desire, whichever denomination, and be free to eschew it as well. Tolerance, not bigotry. Education, not ignorance. Moderation, not extremism. That is the world my son deserves. And I will do whatever I can to bring this to him.
“Close your eyes, have no fear, the monsters gone, he’s on the run, and your daddy’s here.” ~ Beautiful Boy, John Lennon
Nemo vir est qui mundum non reddat meliorem. (What man is a man who does not make the world better?)