Why I Left the GOP

As a kid, I was raised Republican–but not for religious reasons.  The Democrats were stupid donkeys; the Republicans were smart elephants.  Abortion and gay rights were barely a blip on the fundie screen in those days.  Adding religion to it didn’t happen until I started watching The 700 Club around 1987 or 1988.

I watched it on and off starting around age 12, but it wasn’t until around 14 or 15 that I started watching it every day, seeing it as important as my new determination to read the Bible daily.  Pat Robertson indoctrinated me into the idea that Democrats were evil atheist liberals out to destroy all we hold dear, while the Republicans were righteous warriors saving our country from baby-killers and homosexuals and big government.  I believed everything he said because he was a Christian preacher.

And yet, even though my dad was very conservative, he still told me that voting by party when the other guy is a better candidate, is stupid.  He still said not to listen to Pat Robertson or the people who say we need to put prayer back in schools.  He said that presidents could not do anything they wanted, that the courts told Nixon he had to turn over the tapes.

In college, chinks in the wall started coming as I took classes on Persuasion and Mass Media.  I learned about logical fallacies and how words can be manipulated to bring emotional responses.  I learned that The 700 Club hadn’t always told the truth about stories in the news.  I learned that Rush Limbaugh was highly manipulative, how he cut people off when he didn’t like their comments and formed the reactions of listeners.  Pat Robertson kept saying over and over that God told him over and over that Bush would win in 1992; when Clinton won, Pat’s only explanation was, “I guess I missed it.”

I started to recognize that everything Pat said about the cultural wars was also suspect–not abortion or gay rights yet, but everything to do with the Satanic Panic: rock music, Dungeons and Dragons, Halloween, etc.  I had no idea he might be a racist until he defended a school board in 1994 that wanted to focus on white history.  I began hearing about the religious right during that time, realizing finally just what Pat really was.  Once in a while I’d turn on The 700 Club, but only to criticize.  It took longer to break from the show’s teachings on charismatic sign gifts, which led me into believing God wanted me with guys who were very wrong for me.

In 1994, I also dated a guy for a month who was very much into Rush Limbaugh and the extreme end of the party.  I was turned off when he screamed at an elderly woman in the cafeteria for saying something that he thought was too “liberal.”

So I was not an extremist by any means, recognizing by now that I had been misled by them, but you didn’t have to be an extremist Republican to be against abortion or gay rights.  I was also influenced by the teachings of conservative Christianity as well.

But over time, probably starting around 1995, I began to say that it was gay sex, not the passive act of being gay, that was the sin.  In the next several years, as I learned that my own behavior (introversion, NVLD/Aspergers, etc.) was influenced by things I was born with and could not change, I began to listen to the argument that being gay is something you’re born with and can’t change or be blamed for.

That particular issue took a long time to deal with, as I first examined papers put out during the mid-naughts by the liberal ends of the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, then read Orthodox views on the subject, then realized that maybe the Presbyterians and Lutherans were right after all.  Re-examining the abortion issue came later.

But as for strict politics–Because I had finally recognized the religious right for what it was, the extremist end of the party, and the fact that Pat Robertson had not told me the truth about Democrats, I was now more aware of how Republicans behaved in the halls of Congress.  Locally I didn’t see much to worry about, but in Washington, Republicans were actively trying to destroy Democrats.  Ever since Clinton was elected, the GOP members of Congress had been trying to bring him down.  They fought everything he did, badmouthed Hillary, and started the Whitewater investigation–which all looked like a bunch of nothing.

Even though I thought Clinton was scummy because he cheated on his wife, Kennedy did the same thing, and Clinton did do some good things, such as balancing the budget and bringing us a surplus.  From what I recall, I hated Clinton, but not with the passion of the GOP leaders.  I agreed with Republicans on abortion, but was beginning to move further away from their views on most everything else.  And when Clinton was impeached for lying about getting a BJ in the Oval Office, I wrote to my penpal saying I was done being a Republican.  But I didn’t like the Dems, either, so I didn’t know where to go.

In 2000, for the first time, I liked both candidates (though I would’ve preferred McCain) and examined the platforms of both sides.  I was turned off Gore, however, during one debate when he seemed to physically threaten Bush.  I rooted for Bush during the Recount and thought I was more Republican after all.

But in the naughts, it all changed for good.  First, I kept taking quizzes that said I agreed with everything the Democrats stood for–except for abortion rights.  (That changed later as I discovered that I wasn’t being told the truth about that, either.)  I supported Bush in the early years, but then things started coming out like torture, Gitmo, and a few items in the Patriot Act that seemed to overstep onto our freedoms as Americans.  The more I learned about these things, and that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the more I saw Bush as evil.

And yet no matter what he did, the GOP–both in Washington and here in Wisconsin–supported it all: torture, the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq.  The Dems temporarily blocked a Supreme Court pick because he helped justify torture, but to this day the GOP spins it as just being arbitrary obstructionism, which they use as an excuse for their own.

Then the Downing Street Memo came out, but got buried, everybody forgetting about it, when I thought for sure it and torture would lead to the impeachment of Bush.  I remember reading it, and I probably wrote letters and/or e-mails to representatives about it as well, trying to get something done–but then it all went away.  That’s when the GOP powers of persuasion really became obvious, and the way that the GOP circled their wagons and supported everything their leaders did, no matter how evil.  Around this time, a venerated citizen of our little city voted against the GOP for the first time in his 105+ years, because, as he said, Bush had “hijacked the Republican Party.”

In 2004, I was now an Independent, and voted for a Democrat for President for the first time.  This was also the year “Megalomaniac” by Incubus came out; even though it wasn’t actually about Bush, the video clearly was, and it just cemented what I was learning about the GOP.

In the naughts, I also learned that the opposition to the science of climate change could be traced back to the Koch brothers, who funded “studies” with fake conclusions, since their oil earnings would be affected.  I learned that a lot of the ridiculous claims I was hearing from right-wing conservatives came from the John Birch Society, which also traced right to the Koch brothers.  I didn’t hear about George Soros–the “boogeyman” to the GOP–until much later, but while I could find verification about the stories about the Koch brothers, the stories about Soros were very easily debunked.

I also met a very poor family and saw how their circumstances kept working against them; they were one reason why I turned Democrat: because Republican policies totally ignored the realities of poverty, expecting people to help themselves.  Ironically, this family fervently voted and worked against their own interests, believing Democrats were “baby killers” and that the GOP or Libertarians were their saviors.

In 2008, I voted for McCain, since I was Independent, not Democrat.  But the more I learned about Dems, the more I realized I identified with them best.

Over the years, I’ve seen and heard a lot; there have been occasions when Democrats behaved badly, but by and large, the Republican Party has been committing the largest part of the grave offenses.  They have been grasping more and more for power, hypnotizing their people with lies through FOX News and various radio show hosts (such as Limbaugh).  The more power they get, the harder it is to fight back.

It doesn’t matter where they are in the political chain–Washington, or locally–they have been continuously lying to the people, brainwashing them into thinking that the interests of big corporate fat cats are somehow the same as the interests of the little guy.  They’ve been lying about abortion and homosexuality, while at the same time, using those issues as lures for gullible Evangelical voters.

Somehow the GOP has become “God’s Own Party” even though it goes against everything Jesus ever taught us about how to treat the poor, minorities, women, and others.  Current GOP policy also violates everything the Bible teaches about treatment of immigrants.  It doesn’t matter to them if it saves or improves lives or is wildly popular with the people–If Democrats propose something, the Republicans oppose it.  If Dems manage to pass the thing, the GOP will try to get rid of it as soon as possible, bringing back the bad old ways under which people suffer.

They constantly harassed Obama, refusing to do anything he wanted, and criticizing everything he did.  Their followers posted pictures of him as the Joker and with a noose around his neck.  Obama was a good president and a devoted family man, a Christian, but the GOP painted him as EVIL and lots of people believed it.

Meanwhile, we now have a president who is the epitome of a malignant narcissist, with a history of selfishness, greed, rape and other criminal behavior, and no trace of Christianity, who is showing every sign of wanting to be dictator, yet the GOP paints him as a glorious savior who couldn’t possibly do anything wrong.

Obama did his best to promote peace, though he did make serious errors; the GOP maligned him for this.  Meanwhile, Trump is an actual security risk, destabilizing the Middle East with his reckless actions and putting our country at greater risk of everything from blackmail to nuclear attack–and the GOP supports him.  (I wrote this before getting the news that the GOP is upset about pulling out of Syria–but who knows if that’ll last long, either?)

They’ve been gerrymandering.  We keep falling further and further behind other industrialized countries, who have things like high speed rail and government-paid medical care and even pensions.  Meanwhile, if we can’t find a job in our small town, we’re stuck unless we pick up our lives and move away from friends and family.  We’re bankrupted by health problems, and can expect to work until we’re dead, with very little vacation time.  This all suits the fat cats just fine, because they’re rich and getting richer.  While the little guy keeps voting against his own interests because he’s been brainwashed into thinking the alternative is “EVIL socialism.”

Encountering the TEA Party up close and personal among friends back when it started, showed me just how ignorant and harmful it actually was.  I didn’t need the “liberal media” to “spin” it for me.  I watched in horror as it took over the GOP, kicking out more moderate members and turning the whole party TEA.  I remember, in 2007, looking at Ron Paul’s platform and thinking, “Geez, what a nutcase.”  Now his nutty ideas are GOP dogma.

Some people didn’t leave the GOP until recently, because of Trump.  Some people don’t seem to realize that ousting Trump will get rid of a security risk who is totally inept and self-serving–but won’t fix the problem, because the fault lines go back decades.

The TEA Party takeover of the GOP may have just happened in the last decade, but it comes from the extremism that was already there in the party for years.  And it has been pushing out what was still left in the GOP of moderation and decency, until we now have this: a party that goes from criticizing Trump to kissing his backside, and defends every crappy thing he does, until now they’re trying to tell us,

“Don’t believe the mainstream media.  They’re LIBERAL and can’t be trusted.  Don’t believe what they tell you is in the Mueller Report.  Don’t believe the whistleblower.  No, only believe what we tell you.  Nothing to see here–No, Kavanaugh didn’t commit sexual assault against at least three girls.  No, Trump is not corrupt.  No, Trump did not collude or obstruct.  No, Trump did not threaten the leader of another country into helping him smear a political opponent.  No, it’s all liberal lies.  WE’LL tell you the truth.”

And the scariest part is when I hear loved ones repeat the lies the GOP has been saying.  I post something on Facebook and friends/family react with “laugh” emojis even though it wasn’t a joke.  I’ll post factual articles, while they respond with GOP talking points, and sound ignorant because those are not facts.  It’s frightening what the right-wing has been doing to this country.

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What Richard Told Me about border guards: Investigating its Truth

Back in 2007-2009, Richard told me many hair-raising stories about his time in the southern Border Patrol.  He was there while Clinton was president.  Here’s what he told me:

  1. Clinton told them to shoot the illegal immigrants on sight, through a secret Executive Order that drove many border guards to emotional distress, drinking, etc.
  2. Many border guards were corrupt, taking their own piece of the drug smuggling and human trafficking going on there.
  3. He shot somebody.  I won’t go into more detail.  But the guilt drove him to leave the job.
  4. He left before Bush came into office.  Other border guards told him that Bush saw the EO, was horrified, and rescinded it.

For many years–including when we were still friends–I have searched the web for answers, trying to find out if the “shoot on sight” EO was for real.  I have never found anything–though I have dug up lots of confirmation of corrupt border guards.  I’ve found plenty of people saying that Bush should implement “shoot on sight” (I think one was Richard’s own wife).  I’ve found plenty of confirmation that Clinton’s border policies were just as harmful as Trump’s, causing deaths by forcing people to take dangerous routes, militarizing the border.  I’ve found confirmation that some guards have indeed killed people–but zero confirmation that such an EO ever existed to cover their actions.

Of course, Richard told me confirmation didn’t exist because the government wouldn’t allow anybody to talk about it.  If he posted about it online, he said, he would get a Visit….

But if anybody would talk about such an order, it would be the human rights groups who report on deaths caused by border guards and whether or not they lead to justice.  I found reports of such deaths caused during the Clinton era, but Richard was nowhere listed.  If he really had killed somebody, wouldn’t they have mentioned him on one of their lists?  They don’t care if governments don’t like what they say, and don’t give Clinton a pass for being a Democrat–wouldn’t they have mentioned the EO as one of Clinton’s harmful policies?

Recently, I posted about it on Facebook, wondering if anybody knew anything about this.  One friend said Richard is so full of sh** that his eyes are brown (making me wonder if this person knew him).  Another friend said that she knew somebody who’s been a guard for years, and that such an EO never existed.  But this person was not a guard during Clinton’s era, so I didn’t know what to think, especially as confirmation of border guard abuses back to the 1920s keeps coming out.

Well, finally I found somebody who WAS a guard on the southern border during the same time Richard was (she was in from 1995-2001), and here is what she, Jenn Budd, writes about it:

It’s been some time since you left the force, what are some of the things that have changed? What are some of the things that have remained the same since you left?

When I became an agent, there were just under 5,000 agents and 1.3 million apprehensions. Today there are about 20,000 agents for just over 300,000 apprehensions. Judging by those statistics, I honestly don’t know what today’s agents do all day. When I was an agent, I played soccer with the kids in the flat fields of Tecate. Today they shoot them for getting too close to the fence. The Patrol is far more militarized and has greater extraordinary powers than in my day, yet there is little accountability.

After 9/11, agents told me they had the authority to do whatever in the name of “national security.” For example: before 9/11, we had a no pursuit policy if it endangered lives; no high speed chases that could result in the loss of life. After 9/11, agents stated they could justify it because it was a national security issue. This is the same excuse given when they pull over vehicles without cause, when they shoot children playing too close to the fence, to justify caging infants. The Patrol has also become aligned with anti-immigrant hate groups and promotes their websites to their agents through the union. This did not exist when I was an agent.

Some things have not changed though. The agency still refuses to admit they have a serious issue with sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by its male agents on its female agents.  That helps explain why there are so few female agents. Agents are routinely found to be taking bribes and engaged in corruption, smuggling drugs, and people. They are also often charged with murder. Yet the Border Patrol prefers to defend their agents even when there is clear video evidence they have committed crimes. The agency is more concerned with bad press than it is about enforcing laws and holding their agents accountable.

So yes, the corruption stories were true.  Yes, guards sometimes commit murder, then as now.  But this contradicts Richard’s claim about Clinton’s EO.  This would suggest that if anybody made such an order, it would’ve been Bush, not Clinton.

And that makes me wonder why the heck Richard would make such a claim.  Why would he say he murdered somebody if I can find no proof that he ever did?  Wouldn’t he have gone to jail for this?  Even if the EO had kept him out of jail, wouldn’t the human rights groups have mentioned him someplace in their long lists of guards accused of murder?  Why would guards even be accused of murder in the Clinton era, if they were acting under orders?  Jenn Budd now blogs about border issues and has an open letter telling border guards to either quit or fight back against human rights abuses; wouldn’t she say if such an EO ever existed when she was a guard?

The only reason I can think of for Richard’s claim of murdering somebody, is political, to suit his usual narrative that Democratic presidents are evil and only conservative presidents can be trusted to do the right thing.  Or maybe it was from some narcissistic desire to paint an image of himself as bigger and badder than he really was, in order to impress people.

A mutual friend has confirmed some of the other stories Richard told which are just as hard to believe, such as the Mafia gem smuggling–but this particular story keeps falling apart no matter how many times I try to confirm it.

 

 

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Reblog: “The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love”

Years ago, I was very disturbed by things I heard from Tracy, Richard’s wife; her views on politics struck me as lacking in empathy and compassion–and very, very misguided (climate change, for example).  She claimed to be a Christian, but I did not see any evidence of this in fruits of the spirit.  It was a relief to cut off relations with her when her abuse of me, her children, and Richard finally became intolerable.  (If not for her being married to Richard, I wouldn’t have put up with her at all, let alone for two and a half years.)

As for Richard, he was a bit better in some ways–He was compassionate toward immigrants, having seen firsthand what draconian border policies do to people.  But he had extremist views of his own that began to get very disturbing.

When I started seeing a couple I knew in college start making similar comments on Facebook, I decided to cut the cord there, too.  I couldn’t make any political posts without this couple making some snide remark.

Lately, however, I’ve been seeing views like theirs showing up more and more on my Facebook news feed, whether people’s posts or their responses to mine.  I’ve already unfriended a few people and changed my settings so I can block another person from seeing certain posts.  But I can’t unfriend family or people I see all the time.

And it’s not just my imagination.  John Pavlovitz writes in The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love,

 

  

There is much more there about watching your loved ones turn into right-wing extremists.  Since I’ve started making political posts on Facebook again after years of avoiding them, I’ve seen comments that make my hair stand on end–from people I thought were better than that.  I’ve unfriended people I had crushes on in school.  I’ve unfriended the mother of a friend.

I’ve wished I could unfriend relatives and friends who see my posts on the treatment of immigrants and say “I’d vote for Trump again” and make snarky comments that mirror GOP talking points.  I’ve heard people say things that seem to come out of left field–then, sometime later, hear those same wacky comments come from some GOP politician or pundit or other right-winger.

And yes, I wonder if this is what it was like for Germans who kept their sanity but watched their friends/relatives/colleagues fall in love with Hitler.

Again, the article is The Christian Right is Radicalizing White People I Love by John Pavlovitz.  Comments here are turned off so you can put them on his blog.

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