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She was a Democrat. He was a Republican. Yet I never remember my parents arguing about politics. That I suppose was a function of the time and place, and their temperaments. In the fifties and sixties, in New York, the Democrats and Republicans were not so far apart, and the right wing of the Republican party had less influence there. NY had elected officials like Jacob Javits, John Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller.

My parents were agreed on many policy questions. My father's Republicanism focused, as I recall, on good government, equal opportunity (including civil rights), good public education, fiscal balance and cautious foreign policy. He agreed with my mother that labor had the right to organize but was not as passionate about it as she was (I learned about the union bug from her insistence that all printing work she managed for civic groups would be done at union shops).

Given how close they were despite the party affiliations why did I end up as one rather than the other? Well, I was closer to my father than to my mother. I saw in our little town the sad effects of Democratic machines that were corrupt and inefficient. And likely (though I only realized this looking back across the years) I probably registered Republican in part as a protest against our local Democrats who boycotted one of my favorite adults, whose only fault was being appointed postmaster (by my father) while being African American. The Democratic boycott of his wife's florist shop had a significant impact on their lives and the injustice hurt - registering in solidarity with him was about the only blow I could strike.

The years pass. I voted for many Democratic candidates regardless of my party registration. Indeed the only Republican I remember voting for was Gerry Ford, who I thought had taken on a hard job and had restored legitimate government by the end of his first term (I know many here disagree with his pardon; there's an extended discussion of that in one of my other diaries).

In 1981 I moved to Iowa where, at the time, the Republicans were mostly mild like the ones I'd known in NY. My representative was Jim Leach. Reagan disgusted me from the beginning. Though I was not so knowledgeable as now I knew he was peddling selfish claptrap. Though I'd never been passionately partisan, having "Republican" on a piece of paper somewhere seemed less and less true. My sole act as a Republican was to caucus the year that Pat Robertson ran for president, so that I could caucus against him.

I believe it was that year that the Iowa Republicans added a party plank calling for teaching creationism in schools. The breach had been opening a long time before that, but creationism?? As a scientist I could not in conscience have my name associated. I dropped my registration and went further. I went to the county party headquarters to try to talk with someone about it. I utterly failed to convey the horror that the party plank held for me and the dialog confirmed that it was time and past time to go.  

I probably registered as a Democrat at that time. Certainly Bill Clinton felt like "my" president, and was the first president I had voted for who had won. It has been with sadness and pain that I have watched as the party of my father and grandfather, the party of Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, has lost its soul and sold out to very dark forces indeed.


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