My political identity, Part 1

Cover of "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts ...

Cover via Amazon

My political identity – pragmatic democrat

I know, I could have said “Liberal” or “Progressive” but really, what does that mean? It doesn’t tell you which party I support. Well, it DOES, most of the time, but I know many libs/progs who would still call themselves Independent or Green Party members. No, I am proud to call myself a Democrat. I put the “pragmatic” qualifier in front as an indication that I am not a purist. I’m not going to do down the line here issue by issue but what I will say is that how I lean IS very much dependent on each issue and each situation. Yes, I view things one at a time. I see nuance and shades of gray and blue, and yes, even red sometimes. There is rarely, if ever, a one stance covers all formula in life or in politics. I also recognize that since my opinions evolved from my 20s to 30s to 40s that they most likely will continue to do so.

At this point, if you read The Audacity of Hope, you understand exactly why I so closely identify with Barack Obama 🙂  The man oozes pragmatism and nuance which drive his most ardent liberal supporters absolutely up a wall, but I completely get it. He recognizes that sometimes, the best you can do is simply that – the best you can do in this current moment, with these existing tools at our disposal. Congress, Senate, Supreme Court, state governments, military leaders – they all influence and often can put up insurmountable road blocks to what is possible. So you do the best you can do. I feel an ingrained level of trust in him that I did not feel with his predecessors. He’s the first President in my lifetime that I “get”. Maybe it’s the age/generation thing. He’s the first one from my era. Of course some has to do with our political philosophies being rather closely aligned – though not a 100% match for sure! But I just feel like he IS the ultimate “Adult in the room” to drop a recently overused phrase. In your circle of friends you know there are always those few who rise to the top as the ones you consult when you need advice. He would be one of those in my world. So that’s why I supported him early on in ’08 and will support him whole heartedly again in 2012.

Now, how did I get here?

I didn’t start here that for sure! If you took my poll I set up a few weeks ago, I spoke about that. I am also not alone as I saw from the results. 18 readers voted – all of you are registered to vote (yay!), 16 Democrats & 2 Independents (no GOP? Rats! Oh well, guess that’s not surprising). 8 of the 18 have switched parties in their voting lifetimes. This was not a shock to me because as I have been more involved in political discussions online, I knew a lot of people whose political stances had changed over the years.

My personal evolution is more about finally paying attention to what the parties supported vs an actual shift in core beliefs. I don’t mean that to sound insulting to conservatives! Yes, I have joked that I was a Republican until I started paying attention and then I switched – ha ha ha. BUT, that’s really true! In my 20s and early 30s my head was in the sand. I registered to vote at 18, voted for Reagan and supported the GOP out of habit because my parents are Republican. I continued voting GOP nationally without really knowing what was going on, but did sort of pay attention to the California state propositions and local races. With those I didn’t feel any party loyalty, I just studied them & voted what felt right to me at those times. However, I was not fully invested in the results. I didn’t watch election returns or really pay attention to what any of the folks I elected may have done once in office. I was the classic accidental voter!

Then Prop 22 came along. That was the first California Marriage Initiative limiting legal recognition of marriages to those between a man and woman ONLY. That one opened my eyes to the real world of politics, campaigns, and political party stances & just how each vote could impact someone’s life. Particularly people I knew & loved.

(to be continued)


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