I’m a life-long Republican, voting in my first election in 1974, and since 1976 I have voted the straight Republican ticket. I’ve served as a Precinct Committee Officer, and I’ve served as a delegate to my state convention in 1992. I was proud of my Republicanism, and kept voting the straight ticket through 2010. I loved God and family and flag, and no Democrat ever would protect all three.
In 2008, I voted for my last Republican presidential candidate. Against all my feelings and judgment, I held my nose and voted for Senator McCain, a man who served his country honorably in Vietnam, but who was part of a political corruption scandal in the 80s, and someone who was erratic and undependable. I voted for him because first of all I’m a Republican, and I vote for the Republican, but I really, really could not stand him. I felt he was unprincipled and dishonest, mendacious and petty, intemperate and foolish. I had said for years I would never vote for McCain, and yet in 2008 I broke my principled objection to him and voted for him.
But the other guy was Senator Obama, a man who’d never held an executive position, a man with several autobiographies by the age of 45, a man who seemed to be simply way, way too liberal for me. He seemed to be only an outsider and a favored man who made silly mistakes when campaigning, a man who inspired others but who appeared flat and dull to me. Plus, I was really tired of the Black Jesus approach to him by his supporters. Since I believe in the true Jesus, it offended me to see Sen. Obama elevated with such glamor. Really, guys. He’s only a Senator.
I will say I was glad to see McCain lost, but I wasn’t happy Obama won. And for the first 18 months of his Administration I saw no good in what he did, and was glad that the Republicans pulled every trick in the book to thwart him.
But then he proved to be an adept President, focusing on the immediate tasks (saving the economy from collapse) and long-term objectives (bringing about changes to the health care system in the U.S.). The greatest economic downturn since the 1930s hit, and he and his team worked to ameliorate the results and to revive the economy. It’s not great, but it’s much better. We all know this, even Republicans. We are better off now than we were the month Obama took office, and saving General Motors was the right thing.
He proved to be adept at foreign policy and military outcomes, correctly deciding to take the U.S. out of Iraq and correctly deciding to take the U.S. out of Afghanistan in 2014–12 years is long enough for a war. He correctly pursued the reason we started this war in the first place, keeping the military on task to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.
He proved adept at getting health care reform through Congress over the incredible efforts of the Republicans to oppose him and his party. Not everyone likes it, but for me, it proved to be a wonderful blessing. My premiums have risen at the slowest rate in years, we got a refund, and my kids have been able to stay on my health care plan, saving us as a family thousands of dollars a year.
So after the elections of 2010, I began to re-examine my beliefs. Why was I so opposed to the man who initiated and led these efforts and changes? Why was I so opposed? The only reason I could think of was because he was a Democrat.
But I’m an American, and so is he. (In fact, the birther nonsense that still is part of the Republican message is what pushed me over the edge. You people who believe President Obama is a Muslim or is a Kenyan are simply insane. There’s no way to put it delicately.) I believe in America. So does he. I believe in the Constitution. So does he.
I looked at what he _did_ and who he _was_, and I decided in 2011 to stop opposing my best interests and to stop being afraid to do what was right for me and for my country, and I began to support President Obama.
He is the President of all Americans, and he is the President for all Americans. Because of his leadership we left Iraq, we are leaving Afghanistan, we are seeing more jobs, we are seeing an economic recovery, we have a new, national health care system, we have met the primary objective on the War on Terror–he and his team of supporters have accomplished this.
So I’m voting for him for the first time. For the first time in my life, I am voting for a Democrat for President, because he has earned my trust and he has earned my vote.
Congratulations, Mr. President, on your re-election.
One day I’ll explain why I left the Republican Party. But this is about why the Democrats have earned my trust.