Monday, November 3, 2008

Confessions of a former Young Republican...

Now the truth can be told...

A few years ago, while cleaning out some boxes from my parents' attic, I came across a Republican National Committee membership card from 1988. I looked at it with a mixture of confusion and bemusement. I had actually forgotten that at one time I was a card-carrying member of the Republican Party (or perhaps it was a matter of self-induced amnesia). Despite my political philosophy today, it made perfect sense for 1980s Michael to have made a donation to the RNC (which was how I obtained that membership card).

Twenty years ago I was dating Pookie, the youngest daughter of a Washington attorney who had held several low level positions in the Reagan Administration (something like deputy assistant to the deputy assistant Secretary of ........ - basically a political appointment; a reward for raising tons of cash for the Republican Cause) Mr. J. was a pompous ass filled with an inflated sense of self-importance but I was incredibly fond of his daughter and though I loathe to admit it, I sucked up to him in the worse way. I think it worked because he seemed to like me - at least he did when he drank (which was often). Either that or he was resigned to the fact that his little girl wasn't going to give me up and he was trying to make the best of it. Whatever the case, Mr. J. bent over and I puckered up and we got along fabulously.

At the same time, I was enthralled by the whole Washington DC social/political scene (as peripherally involved with it as I was). Pookie and I would drive down from NY on weekends to attend black tie affairs and I even purchased my own tux (I still have it, unfortunately my political views aren't the only things which have broadened over the past two decades - so there it sits in the back of my closet awaiting the day when I will once again be able to wear it). I was definitely a fish out of water; there was no way I fit in either financially or career-wise (I was in retail management at the time, and even though I had a good job working for an upscale Manhattan department store, I was out of my league among the lawyers and trust fund babies). It was around this time that I took the LSATs and planned on attending law school (pathetic, wasn't I?).

Eventually Pookie and I parted company. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I voted for Bill Clinton.

Currently I hold no party affiliation; I went directly from Republican to Independent. Looking back over the past seven presidential elections, my voting record is as evenly split as seven can be:

1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan -Yes, I was part of the Reagan Revolution. As the title of today's blog suggests, I was a Young Republican. There exists photographic evidence of this writer attending YR functions and fund raisers for local politicians in the early 80's. Not only was I a member - I was an officer. All I can say is "Mea Culpa". Still, to this day there's something deeply ingrained in my psyche which prohibits me from criticizing Ronnie too harshly (if at all). Maybe it's because he was my first - and you always have a special place in your heart for your first...

1988 George H.W. Bush - During the 1980 primaries I was actually rooting for Bush over Reagan so there was no way I'd vote for Mike Dukakis. To be honest, I never really gave Mike a chance then and I haven't really gone back and looked at his positions on the issues so I can't say if I'd have done things differently.

1992 and 1996 Bill Clinton - I thought GB did an OK job but was unhappy with the way he squandered his popularity following the success of the Persian Gulf War. I was also starting to change my outlook on the role of government . I'll also admit to watching the Democratic Convention and being impressed by the whole Man from Hope documentary they showed. OK, I'll admit that I even got teary eyed. Dammit - are you happy now?

2000 Al Gore - After a winning streak that lasted five presidential elections, I finally voted for a losing candidate. Technically I was on the winning side in this one too - but try telling that to the Electoral College or the Supreme Court. At the time I wasn't overly impressed with Al Gore as a candidate but I was totally unimpressed with George W. Bush. Over the past 8 years I've come to loathe W for his ignorance and criminal negligence. At the same time I've come to admire and respect Al Gore. Funny how life turns out sometimes, isn't it?

2004 John Kerry - Here is an admirable, intelligent man and genuine war hero who was very bad at fighting back against the Rovian attacks and lies that were launched against him. I remember how he won all three debates against W, but the Democrats didn't have the organization or ground game the Republicans did. It was a close election, but ...

And there you have it; Twenty-eight years of Presidential Campaigns. I wonder how I'll vote tomorrow...?

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