You can’t play in the game if you’re not on the team. That’s the simple reason I am changing my voter registration from Republican to Democrat. There are, of course, more reasons than giving myself an opportunity to be active in a political party that is much more aligned with my personal values and issues important to me: social justice, reproductive rights and public education. The 2020 elections are just around the corner and I want to be on the field.
I have been a registered Republican for more than a half-century, casting my first vote for Barry Goldwater for president. My first foray into partisan politics was in college with the Young Republicans, where I was elected secretary of the club and won a slot as a delegate to the state convention.
I voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 because I was serving with the Army in Vietnam and he promised to bring me home. He did.
Through the years I have been a top aide for Republicans in Congress and to a Republican governor. I served the Republican Party as a county chairman, a member of a state party executive committee and ran for lieutenant governor in my home state of Nebraska. I was the director of the media operations center at the Republican National Conventions in 1976, 1980 and 1984. I was a Reagan delegate to the 1984 convention.
Along the way, I became aware that those traditional Republican values of limited government, freedom of choice and personal responsibility were under attack by the religious right, striving to use the party as a means to convert our democracy into a theocracy. Their goal is to use the power of the government to force their crabbed view of women and minorities on everyone else. I fought that change for decades from within.
I became a volunteer for Planned Parenthood in the late 1980s because I saw the political potential of this powerful reproductive rights organization as a counter to the misogynistic, religiously-driven policies being advocated by the Republican leadership. I believe strongly that Planned Parenthood’s mission of empowering women to make their own reproductive choices without government interference is a real Republican value.
At the same time, I became an advocate for public school educators, believing that our tax money should not be used to subsidize private, religious schools, that teachers should have the right to collective bargain their wages and benefits, and that they should have a voice in setting state and national education policy.
I have spent decades trying to quell the anti-women’s health and anti-union tendencies of the Republican Party—to no avail.
When Donald Trump came to power two years ago, I felt that American democracy, the truth and civility became casualties of that election. That foreboding has proven true, and the Republican Party leadership has done nothing to curtail Trump’s many travesties. So, enough is enough.
I wish my Republican colleagues within the reproductive rights and teachers’ union movements the best of luck.
I’m mad as hell and I just can’t take it anymore.