1994 – Confessions of a Democrat
By Vicki Fleshman, Grassroots Graphics, Joseph Oregon
Being a “Democrat” was always a family tradition. I cut my teeth on F.D.R., Truman and reached full voting bloom during the Camelot period. The tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy left me with a deep feeling of loss and pessimism that followed me for years into adulthood. I still remember, vividly, the T. V. “Special Report” that interrupted the show I was watching as I sat with my infant son. “The President has been shot”, still echoes in the hearts of many even today, thirty years later. Losing a President is not an easy thing for any American. But the Nation endured showing the strength of its people.
In the hearts of many Democrats, the party represented the workers and particularly, those who work with their hands. Because of the Great Depression and the pain associated with that period, many still hang on to this belief. Until three years ago, I was such a person. I voted “party ticket” all the way. Any democrat was better than no democrat. They were the only ones who really understood and cared about us hardworking people. “A chicken in every pot”, sounded pretty good to me. Surely, everyone deserves that, and I didn’t question that theory any further. In fact, that pretty well sums up my political activity — I voted – - democratic!
In 1987, I bought a business. While my husband and I were ranchers, we needed something to supplement our income. I operated the new enterprise myself and employed one full-time and one part-time delivery man. What kind of business makes no difference. What I learned from the experience does.
In the past, I had been the employee and now I thought, “Yes. Now I will make the most money. I can do what I want and all it takes to succeed is me, making the right decisions, of course”. I was working hard, taking a minimal salary with no vacation, striving to succeed. The business grew. My determination and hard work began to pay off. About a year later, things started happening that were adversely effecting my business. More riles and regulations concerning natural resources, private property, taxes, etc., were being put into law that began to drastically stifle free enterprise. Because of the position I was in, for the first time in my life, I began questioning politics. Why were these things happening and where were they coming from? I blamed Ronald Reagan, after all, he was a movie star, who would probably be nominated for an “Oscar” for his portrayal of a President. He got elected by using the Panama Canal. “Holy Toledo, our country is full of war mongers! Can’t they just let bygones be bygones”? After all, President Carter really cared about people. He tried to “change” things but had bad advisors. I continued to build a defense for my party that would satisfy me, for a while…..
When some of my friends and customers future in the timber industry became threatened, I began reading newspapers, magazines and was more interested in the nightly news. I began talking to people, hearing their stories and then researching issues. I was looking for answers. I wanted reassurance that my “gut feelings” weren’t true. The myth crumbled as I became more informed and familiar with those in Congress and their voting records. What I found appalled me.
The Democratic Party has been in power for fifty years in the House of Representatives and the Senate. If the President does not have the support of both “houses”, then we have gridlock. The only way gridlock is broken is by “compromise”. However, the important point is that the House and Senate have been controlled by Democrats for fifty years! This hit home very hard, because while still lacking in some information, I realized that my party was voting in the very bills that were destroying my customers, rural area and way of life and they were advocating larger welfare budgets and regulating others out of business and jobs. The national deficit was continuing to grow, “political correctness” was a term being used in advocacy of very liberal idealism, and state as well as national sovereignty was being usurped. I studied the Constitution, wrote “Letters to the Editor”, Congress, the President and even the Vice President. I realized, in frustration, that something had to happen that would “Wake-up, America”. We, the people, had to wrestle the reins out of the grip of bureaucrats and pull Congress around “nose to butt”, if necessary, to stop the stampede into socialism.
The opposition and minority in Congress, Republicans, advocated less government, free enterprise and traditional family values. While (their) platform wasn’t perfect, it was more in line with my own personal beliefs. That was when I made the decision. I could no longer perceive my party affiliation as how I wished it would be, it had to be as it really was. Somewhere along the line things had changed. I had started down the path all voters travel only to turn around and find out those who I thought were behind me, suddenly had disappeared. It happened while I, being much too idealistic, was looking but not seeing, listening but not hearing. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the intellect to know better – I just wasn’t interested. I was blindly loyal to the Democratic Party, like so many Americans today. So finally, after a tussle with my heart, I changed my voting affiliation. I had partaken of the “apple of knowledge” and there was no going back to the “la-la land” of the Democratic Party.
It is hard to question those things of the heart. But while we all should be patriotic in heart and commitment, we must open our eyes and use our minds to help govern it. We should ask questions to be more informed and not accept answers which do not include fads. If candidates “talk the talk”, will they “walk the walk”? How do we find out? Check the record and the character. Integrity is very important whether you are choosing a leader of a nation, a representative, senator, mayor or sheriff! If a person really loves his country, he should support its basic foundation and get interested in its preservation by participation! Because I have become informed, I can honestly say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party – It left me! “§