This has been a year of personal indecision and struggle for me. I doubt anyone is interested, but I've come to a crossroads, and made some decisions that I just want to share.
I joined the Republican Party a few years ago in search of people who could mentor and guide me through what appeared to be an overwhelming mass of information and misinformation. I was looking for people who were as troubled as I was about what was happening to our country. The party is full of wonderful people, dedicated and knowledgeable, but I just wasn't satisfied. I was looking for something beyond "party." I felt a deep loyalty to the people I met in the party, I didn't want to let them down. But what I really wanted was to be effective, to feel that I could make a difference, and have a voice. And that's where the party left me feeling empty. I've never been much good at being a tool, and there were many times I was left feeling used, to no great purpose. This isn't a smackdown of the party or the leadership, it's just my personal experience. Mine alone.
I'm not joining the party this year; my dues are still in my wallet. I will step in and help where I feel the effort is worthwhile and put my energy elsewhere when I don't.
Maybe it has always been this way, but this year I've especially noticed the candidates running for office, and I had something of an epiphany, which is going to sound naive and even idiotic for those who have watched for a lot longer than I have. Most candidates seem to run as you'd expect: they wear the party colors openly and you know pretty much what you're getting. Then, there are those who seem to be running under false colors. There is more than a smattering of candidates running under the Republican colors who aren't conservative at all. And surprisingly, there's a wonderful Democrat here locally who seems more conservative than our Republican candidates. So how is the average Joe supposed to know? If you aren't putting in the face time to meet, question and research, you really don't know.
I believed that candidates ran under the platform of the party they were registered under. But no, the platform is voted on by the parties, but candidates are not held to those platforms. It seems to just be a party thing, and candidates run under the party they think they can win under, regardless of their personal views. Case in point, Ron Paul running as a Republican and Brad Smith who was running as a Republican here locally.
With this new understanding, I'm a fresh, shiny, new conservative Independent. I'm up for grabs, and no candidate, no party is safe from scrutiny. My loyalty is to my county and my country.
I will share one other major accomplishment in my journey this year, one that is perhaps the most useful on my road of political enlightenment. When I first began, I was a national news junkie, glued eyes and ears to Fox News at home and in my car. Bill O'Reilly was an Oracle of Wisdom, and Glenn Beck had achieved nothing less than Demi-God status. As I began going to meetings, reading the local papers, and meeting with people who had actually thought through their positions, my programming began to change. National politics is nothing more than an expression and reflection of local politics. EVERYBODY has an agenda. Spend-and-tax politicians are alive and well, and very successful, here in Rockdale, not just Washington.
Here at home is where I can be effective, have a voice, and make a difference. Sometimes, just my presence at a meeting is meaningful. Who would have thought it?! I'm not particularly bright; I'm flawed, and way too emotional on occasion, but I'm finding my place here at home, where it counts. There are other citizens who I've run into who are like-minded. It just isn't about party anymore, it's about what is right, and no one has a corner on that.