I registered as a Democrat in 1980, shortly after I turned 18. I was fairly apolitical and picked that party because I (wrongly) assumed that most of my relatives were registered with the party of JFK. We were Catholics, after all, mostly working class and old-world ethnic. It was only later that I learned my Italian grandparents were registered as Republicans, who nonetheless crossed party lines to vote for Kennedy. My other grandmother was a staunch Democrat, but I didn’t really like her very much for reasons having nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that she insisted on buying me polyester pantsuits as presents, so my devotion to the Dems was tenuous at best.
Although my memory is dim, I do believe I voted for Jimmy Carter the first time I could cast a ballot. The memory is probably dim because I usually push unpleasant things far to the back of my mind. I struggle to believe I didn’t support the greatest president of the last half century when I first had the opportunity to do so, but as I said before, I was apolitical early on. Football inspired me more than hardball.
That soon changed. I quickly learned that I had very strong political beliefs, I just never identified them as “political.” Abortion was (and is) murder. Religion must be allowed in the public square. A strong national defense is essential, and appeasement of enemies under the guise of diplomacy is sinful. Immigration, on the other hand, is not (this was before the “legal-illegal” war of words began). The government should provide a safety net for the poor. The government has the right to legislate morality, especially where children are involved.
And presidents should not have oral sex in the White House with women not their wives (and maybe not even then).
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From this, you can tell that I was an atypical Democrat. And still, I didn’t change my registration because I rarely focused on the primaries and saved my fire for the general elections. Plus, I usually crossed party lines, particularly when I remedied the huge mistake in 1980 and finally voted for Reagan the second time around. As a Pennsylvanian I also voted as many times as I could for Rick Santorum, Pat Toomey, George Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and a sprinkling of Democrats. The only one I embraced wholeheartedly was former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey Sr., a pro-life Democrat, not a cowardly squish like, “I won’t impose my views,” Mario Cuomo.
But then, this year happened. I came to the realization that regardless of what happens with the youthful voters of this country, much more engaged than I ever was, Bernie will not win the nomination. Hillary has been practicing for this her whole life, and she’s too inevitable. I’m not happy about it, and am planning an exit strategy if she wins, but there it is.
But if I did something radical and actually made my paternal grandmother twirl rapidly in her grave by registering as Republican, I might influence the Republican race discounting the whole delegate mish-mash.
So that’s what I did. Now I’m a member of the GOP and I can support my man, John Kasich. Great to be in the new neighborhood.
Except, there haven’t been any housewarming parties. No pies left in my doorstep. No, “welcome neighbor” grass mowing or bottles of wine or even friendly waves.
This, apparently, is not Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. This is a place as uninviting as the abortion-loving, 1-percent-hating Dems. Because I don’t like either Trump or Cruz and will slit my throat before I vote for either, I’ve become, to some, that strange neighbor at the end of the street you warn your children against. I’m the one who is guaranteeing a Hillary victory. I’m the one spitting on the Constitution. I’m a “loooooser.”
To be fair, not everyone in It Takes a Village of the Damned is standoffish and hostile. I’ve learned of an underground network where some Kasich voters manage to exchange messages and plan for their children’s futures if Hillary wins and they’re shot in the public square as traitors. But it’s a small, valiant band.
All of this is to say that changing parties hasn’t really changed much. I don’t feel at home anywhere. But at least I'll be able to finally, after 25 years, cast a vote for someone in my own party in whom I truly believe.
But don’t expect me to post a lawn sign. I can’t get anyone to come over and mow the grass so you wouldn’t see it anyway.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
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