A couple of years ago, I was called a rhino, which I later found out was actually an acronym - R.I.N.O. (Republican in Name Only) It was an obvious attempt by this individual to put me down, but I quickly learned to embrace the title and wear it as a badge of honor. First, it meant I was recognized as a registered Republican. (KEEP READING) It also acknowledged, more importantly, the fact that I was not your typical Republican, who toes the party line, but one who would buck the system and speak out against the status quo when necessary. It also meant that I would not be associated on a national or a local level with “The Party”.
[SIDE BAR] Let me state that I did not vote for, nor do I support President Trump. I respect the office, not the man –but he is our President, and we have to deal with that. Let me also state that just because I did not vote for Trump does not mean I voted for or supported Secretary Clinton. I did vote; and for whom, it does not matter – they didn’t win. What matters is, for the sake of context – like many in the U.S.A., I have been very put off by politicians and politics in general. A gentleman who I have a lot of respect for, put it to me this way: “Trump is doing and saying what every ‘real politician’ wants to do and say – but they don’t have the courage or the conviction to go through with it.” And while I agree, with the sentiment, I think it’s fair to say that I hope it isn’t 100% accurate. There is a certain professional standard we hold our politicians to, we want them to be “presidential”, for lack of a better word, and we are taken off guard when they are not. Deep down I am not sure many of us trust that our politicians are out for anyone else but themselves.
On a local level, I would love to say things are different. In all actuality I believe they have become more polarizing. The local town committees? I categorically cannot relate to either one of them and will not associate with the one affiliated with the party in which I am registered.
It is easy to get on an anti-trump tirade, it’s only the extreme right will hate you for it. It is harder however to stand up to your state and local politicians when we are the ones who have created an “us vs. them” mentality. I don’t know when we started electing people who would prefer to fight with their colleagues across the aisle rather than work with them. Some will say it started with Obama, others will say it was George W’s second term. All I know is that since I have been paying attention, I have seen more moments of polarity than clarity. In my opinion, this is unacceptable at the city level.
Why all this background, grandstanding and professing of opinions? Because Middletown has a choice in two weeks and it is not easy one for those of us with strong opinions and nowhere to place them. We have all heard the term “lesser of two evils”. What do we do, when the two people running for Mayor are both rumored and perceived to be polar opposites? The “far-right” good ol’ boy with old school/old country connections and a track record that has either been spun or forgotten, but has a legacy (good or bad), experience and support of the old guard. Or the “far-left” progressive kid, wet behind his ears, groomed by a U.S. Senator, with grand ideas that are fine in theory but may be impossible in practice, supported by a town committee that ousted a sitting Mayor. (WHICH WAS AWESOME) Those of us who toe the constantly moving center line are left with…. No one. And that’s just for Mayor! We have two full slates of candidates for other seats that need our time, thoughts, and consideration.
As well as a RINO, I consider myself a “Classical Conservative” which in today’s landscape would probably be looked at as slightly left of center. My pride would want me to say I have been, historically, slightly right of center – but recent events and current opinions would prove that it’s just not true. I was raised as a Republican (which is weird to say) but I am also admittedly, much to his chagrin, not my Father’s Republican. (I prefer CNN to Fox News) That being said there are certain values that I still favor about the Republican Party. I am a believer in being fiscally responsible, lowering taxes, reallocating existing funds before increasing budgets, prioritizing spending on what we can afford, keeping the government small and out of my wallet, and damn it, they should not tax my eating and drinking habits! For the most part I am a big supporter of our military, our police, and our judicial system. I am ok with your right to own a firearm but I think we need to adapt the 2nd amendment to today’s world.
All that said I have a tremendous amount of support for public education, a woman’s right to govern her own body, a person’s right to choose how they identify and who they identify with, without the risk of public opinion. I want the government out of your bedroom as much as I want them out of mine. I want plastic out of our rivers and oceans (but I hate paper straws). I understand the needs for hand-ups, while not being a supporter of handouts. I do not want $15/hr. minimum wage, but a wage commensurate with the job at hand and experience of the person (male or female) doing it – and a society that allows for a livable wage to afford someone to live. This doesn’t mean a higher wages as much as it means a more affordable cost of living.
You might say, I am a RINO.
You may say I am a classical conservative.
You may say I am Republican light.
You may say I am conservative “Dem” or a liberal “R”.
You may say I am a Libertarian.
(“You may say I’m a dreamer” ~ J. Lennon) Hey! How’d that get in there?
At the end of the day I am a person looking to law makers and politicians alike, asking for a reason to believe; a reason to think I am being represented properly. More importantly I am looking to my fellow voters to vote for the person they truly feel will represent them and their beliefs whatever they are. Forget party lines. Forget Town Committees. Forget what you read in social media (except this opinion of course) Forget young or old. Forget experience or none. Think about what will affect you the most – who lines up with your true beliefs, the ones you are too afraid to share with anyone – and vote your conscious. The opposite of “lesser of two evils” is the person that matches up the best with more of your pros and fewer of your cons.
This opinion is not meant to support any particular candidate, because quite honestly I haven’t made up my mind yet. (Save a few council votes) This opinion is meant to implore you, the voter, to think before you vote. There are good people on both sides of the aisle. Maybe we as a community can see it within ourselves to bullet vote for people in both parties. Left, Right and Center. And then maybe, just maybe we can actually get something accomplished for a change.
No one candidate is perfect. Once the candidates and voters alike realize that, we will be ok.