I grew up in the ‘70s, and came of age in the ‘80s. Those in my age cohort saw the drinking age changed when we were 17 to 21, and the retirement age was raised from 65 to 67. Both occurred before any of us could vote.
At 17, I volunteered for the United States Army, while the college fund was a part of that decision, I was driven more by a sense of duty to country. Someone in my family has served in this country’s military since before the Revolutionary War. While I served I can say that I was one of a handful of men who served on the East/West Germany border at Observation Post Alpha while at my first duty station. I was lucky enough to serve in one of the most storied units in the Army at my second duty station, the 101st Airborne Division. I was not a stellar soldier—but I did my duty, and those experiences helped to shape my world view.
For the most part, when I got out of the Army, I was a center left Democrat. I supported a woman’s right to choose; I believed that organized labor was the best way to a secure future for the working class; I believed you have a right to worship, or not worship; I believed that health care was a right, and not a privilege. I believed that the promise of America was a worthy goal.
Over the years I have changed and grown—my position on gay marriage has evolved simply because I went from being a kid who thought he did not know anyone who was homosexual (I did, I just didn’t know I did), to knowing I have homosexual friends, and realizing that love was not exclusive to male/female pairings. My position on legalized pot changed when I realized that it was not a dangerous drug like it had been made out to be.
As a liberal I believe that my tax dollars should not go into the pockets of corporations, and the rich. I am not asking for anything free—I do want my tax dollars to go toward an education for children, not one that just prepares them for a job, but one that enriches them and shows them the beauty of the world around them. I want may tax dollars to provide health care for all—I already have to pay for health insurance, it makes no difference to me if it is called a tax and goes into a pool, or if I pay an insurance company—either way I am paying for it. If it helps some people who cannot buy health insurance, then that is just a bonus. I want my tax dollars to go toward replacing and repairing outdated infrastructure—I never want to see another American community go through the disaster Flint, Michigan, is going through.
Someday, I would love to see a world where all of humanity lives as one without arbitrary lines drawn on a map dividing us. That does not mean I am advocating open borders today—I do want to see our immigration system fixed, part of that fix includes a path to citizenship for anyone currently here undocumented. I want an immigration system that is fair, and that shows empathy to the downtrodden.
As I said earlier, I used to be considered a center left Democrat. The vast majority of my positions are the same as they were in 1990. Yet today, I am called a communist, a socialist, or a fascist. I am none of those. I am first, an American, and believe that country should always come above party—and that the place the Republican Party has been leading this nation to since Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich is not the promise of America—their policies, and their propaganda have moved people who will never benefit from the Republican agenda. The GOP has no ideas—they play on fear, and preach hate. While our nation has often fallen short of its promise, if has always moved forward in fits and starts. We will come out of this—but we need to come together and rise to the challenge before us, and the next time a conservative troll calls you a liberal, before he has a chance to wipe the spittle from his pasty white chin, shout back, “Damn right I am a liberal!”