I am now 82 and hope I have gained wisdom, and that my story will resonate with some readers, who will agree that it is OK to change political parties and even “split” the “ticket” when voting, especially this November. I hope my journey and views might influence decisions.
From 1940 to 1950, I grew up in suburban Glenview in a Republican family. I was the oldest of six kids. Dad had strong views and was politically active in the community. Mom was a stay-at-homemaker who went along quietly, agreeing with whatever political view her husband espoused. After all, women only had the right to vote for 18 years when I was born in 1938.
I was strongly influenced by my dad. I was so interested in politics that a couple of friends and I went downtown in 1952 when both political conventions were held in Chicago. We went to every presidential candidate’s headquarters to get buttons and literature. We were glued to the TV coverage, probably the first time conventions were televised. Republican Robert Taft vs. Dwight Eisenhower! Democratic Gov. Estes Kefauver vs. Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson! It was spellbinding!
Glenview and the Chicago “North Shore” towns were solidly Republican. Democrats were hard to find and mostly kept a low profile. Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy from Wisconsin was busy scaring the nation, leading the Communist witch hunt, exposing “fellow travelers,” “pinkos,” Communist “sympathizers,” and the like, wherever they might be hiding in government, media, trade unions, education, etc. I wrote a paper for school supporting McCarthy, reviewed and edited by my dad!
Many of us skipped school in 1951 to cheer as General Douglas MacArthur’s motorcade came down Sheridan Road. Democratic President Truman had relieved him of his command during the Korean War. As a national hero, he ran for President in the 1952 Republican primary. At school we got out of class to watch his “farewell” speech on TV. “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Most of us thought Truman was a bad guy. I wrote another school paper about the Korean War, defending the idea of fighting Chinese forces in China, which is what MacArthur had intended.
All this brings me to 1960 when I was married. My wife and I joined the Young Republicans, and I voted in my first presidential election for Republican Richard Nixon (the loser in more ways than one). As the Kennedy presidency developed and Civil Rights issues became big national concerns, I believed that the Republican Party of Lincoln the Emancipator, would lead the nation to make Civil Rights progress. The Democrats had a huge problem with the Southern segregationist members. My wife and I became leaders in Open Housing in Oak Park. We sang “We Shall Overcome” with M.L. King. We marched and demonstrated for Civil Rights. But when I had to choose in 1964 between President Johnson and Sen. Barry Goldwater, I voted Republican!
As years passed, I became more liberal in my political views. The Vietnam War was wrong. I voted for anti-war presidential candidates. The Republican Party changed. The segregationist Southern Democrats became Republicans! The first time I finally voted for a presidential candidate who won was for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, 16 years after my first presidential election vote! The Republicans have morphed into a party far removed in principle and deed from the party that included moderates like senators Everett Dirksen and Charles Percy, Gov. Jim Thompson, Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, and many others.
Four of my siblings and their spouses are now solid Democratic voters. At least five of our six kids and their spouses/partners and probably most of our 15 grandkids will vote Democratic. We wonder how our dad and mom would vote now. The Democrats are a party of diversity.
It is tragic that most Republicans will not question Trump. I ask them, “What would Trump have to do to get you to oppose his isolationism, narcissism, lies, destructive policies, and bullying tactics?”
It is OK to not vote for Trump.