I Was a Teenage Democrat
By Spencer Harris
Before I became politically conscious, I was the same bright-eyed optimist determined to drown in my naiveté as many of you were at the same age. It was November of 1992 with George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot. Perot was considered a fringe conservative with some good ideas and dump trucks full of money. George Bush was shooting for his second term and the fourth consecutive Republican presidential term following Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton was the former Governor of Arkansas. He was younger, less “Washington” and all over MTV.
Clinton's campaign had some strangely familiar slogans. “America is in trouble,” “The forgotten middle class,” “A new American health care plan,” “Put America to work” and “Improved education.” If that does not sound familiar, then you have not been paying attention the past two years. He was the people’s candidate while incumbent President Bush was all about Washington.
It was a no-brainer. Your parents were Republicans, and no one wanted to be like his or her parents right? Clinton was younger, playing the sax on Arsenio, smoked dope, had an earring once and was a complete womanizer. If you did not like William Jefferson Clinton, there was something wrong with you. Clinton took a narrow victory, and we were all vindicated. I am sure that I would not have considered myself a Democrat if I knew what that meant. I can say without a doubt I was certainly leaning that way.
Now, I am the "old parent", and since then I have voted straight ticket Republican in every election. I would not dream of voting Democrat today no matter the level of government. I philosophically and morally disagree with practically every position of the left. Looking back at it, though, it was not such a bad thing. The Democrats seemed to be more for the common man, the little guy, Middle American and not for big business and old, rich white guys.
During this most recent election, something hit me. I never realized how many people I knew were hard-core Democrats. I was aware of their left leanings, but I attributed it to certain things. For example, I have friends who are minorities. I have friends who are gay. I also had friends who left high school and went to college in the north or California and had adopted that geographical belief system. You know how someone feels ideologically just from having everyday discussions with them, but I have always considered them a friend first and a political adversary (for lack of a better term) second.
This election changed things. You saw people saying downright nasty things to people they had known their entire lives. I have to admit, you may have occasionally seen it from me. If someone asks me what I think, I will tell you and any offenses are a casualty of political conversation. For me, worrying about being polite in some conversations can skew the message off point and cause me to say things that are not conveyed as intended. Needless to say, the side effect of that can be a little offensive. People would email me outside of conversations I would have on social media asking what had happened to that person and what made them so intolerant.
It forced me to start to wonder how the Democratic party had changed so drastically from then to now. Democrats, in general, used to be for all the things I considered relatable. They have since morphed into militant new age liberals that are as intolerant as they are difficult to talk to. Everything is hyperbole, everyone is some sort of “ist, ” and anything bad in the world is because of America. All of this happened in a little over 20 years – a relatively short period of political time. There have been just over two presidents since Bill Clinton, and I thank God each day that one of them was not another Clinton. It has gone from disagreement and discourse to the obstruction and attempted dismantling of anything that is from the other side. You no longer have to be opposed to an idea or wait to even see what that idea might be. So what drove this change? Have we become so intolerant and divisive that we no longer hope to interact in a civil way?
Luckily for the soon to be throngs of my adoring fans, I have a theory. Before I get into all of this, if I say something that offends or irritates anyone, I absolutely do not apologize. These happen to be things I agree with and have deducted from careful observation. Republicans tend to focus on issues like the economy (good for all), national security (good for all), lower taxes (good for all) smaller and less intrusive government (good for all-see vault7). Inversely, look at Democrats. Free college (group focused), LBGTQ rights (group focused), abortion rights (group focused), global warming (group focused). There were even several democrats who publicly stated that global warming was a bigger threat than ISIS.
America is the most culturally and socially diverse country in history. We are different and there is no denying it. The Democrats use these differences and conflate them with bigotry to drive a wedge between groups of society. For example, I am against illegal immigration which is a policy and not immigrants who are people. People who are against gay marriage are labeled anti-gay. If you support law enforcement, you are racist. All of this is used to gin up fear and anxiety in an effort to divide and conquer. In the end, they get elected, ignore those groups and do it all again in four years. If you still aren’t convinced that Democrats will attack anything and anyone who has a differing opinion, try going undercover as a conservative for a month and watch your social media turn into a hate-filled chat room and probably be asked to cut your own tongue out with a rusty butter knife. You will be treated as a puppy kicker who has zero empathy for anyone not of your same race and gender. Fortunately, I grew out of that phase of my life. I don’t have to live with the constant pressure of having to shame people into enlightenment.
Hillary Clinton thought she could just Clinton her way into the presidency based on her husband’s success. That success was based on things like welfare reform, balanced budgets, and controlled immigration. Today’s Democrat party is nothing like she remembered. She was far too right of Barack Obama in 2012 and lost the primary. She could not sell the fact that she was as far left as Bernie or Warren in 2016. As a result, her party wavered in their support and stayed home. Donald Trump won the presidency on many of the same tenants her husband won on in 1992 - including being on TV as much as possible. Both parties are changing. The Republicans are becoming more centrist and populist while the Democrats are becoming more and more radical. The good things in society – success, law & order, responsibility, etc. – are now seen as character flaws or tools of oppression. They use clever marketing schemes to advance their agendas while simultaneously guilting the “main stream” into submission. Illegal immigrants are “dreamers”, gun control becomes “gun responsibility”, welfare becomes “entitlements”.
Calling it whatever you want will not change the fact that the Democratic Party is lost. It has become the party of the few and not the many. They need to realize that America is not some pit of evil sitting in the middle of the western hemisphere. America is a great place. No country is more generous, more prosperous, more successful, more pioneering, or more innovative. I’m not sure how they lost sight of that. Maybe it wasn’t enough for them or maybe the party has been hijacked. Either way, the Democratic Party is spiraling down at an alarming pace and becoming more socialist with every cause. The party has come a LONG way in 25 years, but it has gone down a progressive path that focuses on the individual and not the country. Luckily for me, I grew up and chose a different path.
The Democratic party needs a wake-up call. They are losing supporters left and right. The farther left they go, the more moderates jump ship to the Republicans. They are too blinded by their own narratives to see the imminent destruction of their party. Will they wake up and make changes? Or, contrarily, will they choose to continue down this disastrous path and wake up post-election 2018 and once again wonder why they lost "bigly"? I guess we have to wait and see. As a Republican, I hope they remain blissfully clueless. For now, watching them spiral out of control is providing better entertainment than late night TV.