I am a registered independent because I believe it’s premature to align yourself with a party before you’ve seen any of the candidates. However, I understand why people do it and I in many ways I do it. Molly wrote about being a Republican and discussed how she gets backlash from her peers because they hear the word “Republican” and associate it with “close-minded” which is, of course, wrong. Democrats get a different kind of flack for being “sensitive” or “elitist.” The reality is there are close-minded Democrats and elitist Republicans. People are people and they are fallible. Dismissing someone because they have certain beliefs or ideas, without really talking to them, isn’t helping anyone. So, I’d like to share why I became a liberal.
My Mom Had An Abortion
My mom had to have an emergency abortion because the baby was growing in the wrong part of her body. My mother would have died other wise. This is part of the reason why I am pro-choice. Providing access to women who need abortions is important because the issue maybe life threatening and because statistically speaking when safe abortions aren’t accessible women will still get abortions, they will just be illegal, unsafe and incredibly dangerous.
Pro-Choice Is Inclusive, Pro-Life Is Not
If it’s important to someone that they never abort for religious beliefs then that should be honored. I don’t have a problem with it and from every person I know who has had an abortion, it was an extremely difficult decision to make. In my opinion, pro-choice allows for both beliefs: that you keep your baby or you do not. Pro-Life, to me, takes away the option for the people who need it. We all saw what happened even after Wendy Davis’ courageous filibuster, the strictest anti-abortion law in the country was passed in Texas.
I Saw Too Many LGBT Friends Get Bullied
The proverb that children can be cruel is there for a reason. I witnessed too many harmless people in my life get pushed around, teased and made fun of to not take same-sex marriage and LGBT rights seriously. A friend of mine in high school was regularly berated with questions about his sexuality and called slurs just for the mere fact that he existed. I’ve had other friends who have attempted suicide because they didn’t think their families would accept them. I know others who impose so much self-hate on themselves—it’s difficult to watch people unravel through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen very many Republican representatives (not necessarily the Republicans I know, personally) who have endorsed or embraced the LGBT community.
Things are changing. 81% of Republicans under 30 support same-sex marriage and 52% overall support it as well. There are a growing number of Republicans in office who endorse same-sex marriage like ice President Dick Cheney, former first lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former GOP national chairman Ken Mehlman and party figures including: Jon Huntsman, Jr., Rob Portman, Meg Whitman, Tom Ridge, William Weld, Jane Swift,Paul Cellucci, Christine Todd Whitman, and Theodore Olson.
I Believe In Religious Freedom
My parents are Catholic but my brother and I are atheists. I’m never going to diss my parents’ beliefs or anybody else’s. America was the first country formed based on citizenship and not religion or ethnicity. I believe in a country where Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and everyone who falls anywhere on the religious spectrum can get along as long as they abide by the laws upheld by the constitution. I am not implying that Republicans don’t believe in this too, what I am saying is that empirically, Republican representatives in power don’t uphold this belief. Many of them assert that the [insert religion here] way is the best way, which can be alienating to our citizens who are not of that faith. Not to mention, religion is constitutionally not allowed in politics. On the flip side, I readily acknowledge the fact that we have only had ONE President, Democrat or Republican, who was not Protestant, John F. Kennedy was Catholic. It appears Democrats don’t mix religion and politics as often, and I say appears because Democrats are less explicit and don’t usually run campaigns based on their religious notions, although it must be inevitable that any politician’s decisions are based on their personal system of morality.
I Believe In Universal Healthcare
I’ve known people who would have died without Obama Care because their health insurance would not cover their cancer treatments. Without Obama Care, I would not have health insurance. Universal healthcare is a staple of modern, post-industrial nations and has been effective, cost effective and coverage effective, just about everywhere it’s been implemented.
If you notice most of these beliefs are social beliefs, they don’t have anything to do with the economy or military. Regardless of what the President’s party is most of them will almost always support expanding the military and supporting Big Business no matter how much those things cost the country and endanger its citizens. The reason I am liberal is because the issues I listed above are still in progress of being resolved. Most of the issues directly affect people in my life that I love and care about. How could I look a gay friend in the eye and say I voted for someone who doesn’t believe they are a real person? I just can’t. How can I look my friends, MANY OF THEM, who have been put on the ‘No Fly List‘ because of their ethnic last names and say, I voted for the administration (George W. Bush administration) who implemented that policy (it should be noted that Obama’s anti-terrorism policies aren’t much better in terms of this kind of thing!).
Republicans and conservatives believe in a lot of the same things I do. There is no doubt in my mind that that is true. The two parties aren’t that different. I happen to personally believe that these human rights issues are incredibly important right now because they cost people their lives, opportunities and safety. I also believe that they are close to being resolved, so I vote in ways that I think will make the big push. When Republicans in office start talking about making same-sex marriage legal, then you best believe I’ll be listening. When they stop making choices about women’s bodies and enforcing policies that exclude women from the conversation, then I’ll be there fist pumping. Right now I can only root for my conservative friends.
When Republicans in office stop using their religion as a marketing tool to appeal to other religious folk or use things like the Southern Strategy, I’ll be listening. My issue is with conservatives in office not the conservatives I meet in real life, the ones who I call my friends or the ones who read this website. We all have different reasons for upholding our beliefs and we should not be punished for them. Right now, and I mean, at this moment in history, it’s hard for me to consider supporting a conservative in office when they don’t support so many of my friends. I have faith that this will change, very, very soon.
[Image via Shutter Stock /Ryan DeBerardinis]