By Mike Lockard
I hate that I feel like I don’t fit in any political party anymore. It’s especially frustrating when politics is my…hobby…or whatever.
I’ve never been confident that I belonged in an office in government or that I was “called to lead” but am that I should be as involved as I can, in whatever capacity I find a home. Assuming I ever find a “home”.
I feel like I’m lacking direction and motivation, but have a need to do “something “about the world around me and it’s excruciating some days. Especially when you feel like you’re on an island in that aspect of your life.
How did I get here?
I grew up with an eye toward politics. Not an interest eye necessarily. More like something to be monitored because it could have an impact on my life.
I started as a Republican. My grandfather, father, mother, most of my family, to my knowledge, were conservative. Seemed like the thing to do.
Things like the national debt concerned me way back when it was only like 9 trillion. We’re now nearing 28 trillion for those keeping count. Even though I didn’t really grasp the entirety of the situation it didn’t seem to make sense that I as a citizen was expected to keep my fiscal house in order and here was my representative government spending like a drunken teen with dad’s credit card. (No offense to actual teens stealing dad’s card).
So, what to do? Vote! That’s where the magic happens right? That’s how I, as a responsible citizen, am supposed to go about building the world I want.
So, I voted. Strait tickets. Didn’t know one person on the ballot, save maybe a local office or two. But…. I was doing it! I was a Republican so of course voting for one made sense. They believed what I did. Right?
That went on for a while. Probably longer than it should have. It’s a little embarrassing looking back. Not voting R but that I didn’t inform myself of the character of the men and few women on those ballots.
Around ‘08 I was working full time running equipment in the “oil field” and was trying to find my place in the world while building a life and family with my wife. Anyone alive then knows about the recession or “Great Recession” as it became known. Next thing you know I’m laid off about the time our fourth child is born and it turns out he has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, is autistic and needs a feeding tube. I mention all this because it started to impact my political leanings. Not that there hadn’t been breaks with my party of choice already. I liked smoking pot and hallucinogens and those were a no no in conservative circles. Mostly.
Those exemptions and being thrust onto what ended up a 99-week unemployment streak and needing public assistance to eat and care for your extremely disabled son can have a profound effect on one’s politics and general outlook about government assistance and poor people. Though I still identified as a conservative and would continue to for a while, my life and experiences would start to change my perspectives. I became more empathetic. I began to see the world around me in a different way.
I glued myself to the news of the day. I was generally savvy enough to wade through the opinion pieces and talking heads and gather what was happening around the world and nationally. I became surprisingly knowledgeable on world affairs that way. Problem was I couldn’t do much about any of those problems realistically. Especially as an “armchair quarterback.” Which was all those hours of reading and News watching had gotten me. Not that it’s bad or useless to know what’s happening on the planet but when one tries to apply one’s theories or even discussing them with neighbors, it doesn’t take long to alienate yourself because you sound like a loon to folks who are head down and trying to earn a living or if they’re lucky, making a life.
So, I turned my focus to problems closer to home.
I immersed myself in local and state news in the same manner I had the world stage. I found no shortage of problems just around the bend and surely… they too could be solved by me…if someone would just hear me out.
It didn’t take long to frustrate myself with my own enthusiasm.
A mostly uninformed population whose governments actively lie and pump out propaganda like Niagara Falls makes it an uphill struggle to articulate proven solutions to the problems we face.
Does anyone really want solutions? Are we perhaps too comfortable in our current state?
I guess what I’m saying is that I didn’t stagnate in my political philosophy. That life and by extension politics aren’t black and white. Not straight down the middle. Not cut and dry. And certainly not what we perceive them to be.
We are, all of us, lacking empathy for our fellow citizens today. Wokeness and hardline patriots don’t represent most of us, I believe. At least not completely.
While many are quick to attack those that are woke. I chose to believe they are simply empathetic to the extreme and have not applied common sense to their thoughts. In other words, wokeness is just empathy without common sense.
As for the Nationalist or hardline patriot. They also lack empathy and maybe a keen awareness of what their nation has carried out in the name of “spreading democracy”.
So, if you’re like me and don’t fit into either of these groups you may feel alone. I suspect we are not but the voices of our neighbors are much louder and more exposed than those of us who take the time to form our own conclusions. Have a unique voice. That see the wondrous accomplishments of a freethinking nation AND the dark stains that refuse to be scrubbed away because we keep making the same mistakes.
My hope is that folks like me and maybe you, can work together. That we can let go the shackles of Parties and platforms and work together. Affiliations be damned.