I grew up in Southeast Tennessee in the second most conservative county in the state. Finding a Democrat in my community was like witnessing a Bigfoot sighting. My parents never voted nor ever spoke about politics. In fact there was no influence on my allegiance to any particular party. But, there I was a Democrat, a tiny blue dot in a sea of red!
The appeal of the Democratic Party came from the fact I was raised in a lower middle class family. A son of a factory worker and military veteran. My mom was in charge of dishing out justice in the home – raising my brother and I. That alone was no easy task. I watched both my parents work very hard to provide for our family and give me the values I needed to be successful in life. It was a struggle at times, but my parents managed to get us through all the difficult times.
My parents taught me the value of hard work and to appreciate everything we had been provided. Yet at the same time I felt as if a much larger force kept the odds against people like my parents. I did not know right away what change needed to take place or exactly where, but I knew I had to find out.
While most kids were watching cartoons, I would be astutely tuned into the nightly news. I wanted to absorb as much information possible about the world surrounding me. At the age of 10, my country had begun a confrontation in the Middle East that threatened to upend our family. My father was on alert to be sent to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm. I was terrified he would be sent to war and I would never see him again. My attention had been captivated by the events unfolding thousands of miles away. This pivotal moment helped cement a desire in me for national politics and my avenue for change had become clear.
Two years later, the Democratic Party would capture a grasp on my political soul that would last for years to come. Bill Clinton had emerged as a young aspiring Presidential candidate. He criticized the very policies that threatened to rip my family apart. He spoke about the millions of hardworking Americans that lived paycheck to paycheck, working in factories,and struggling to make ends meet. Every word uttered by Clinton solidified my belief in the Democratic Party. This was a party that I needed to support. It would be six more years before I could even vote in a Presidential election, but I was hooked!
Fast forward some 20 years and I find myself at odds with the only party I knew. By 2008, I had started to become disenfranchised with the Democratic Party. The identity politics of the Obama Era had emerged like a slithering snake out of a cold winter slumber. During the course of his campaign, Democratic leaders and news outlets condemned voters as racist if they did not support Obama for President. The REAL issues that faced Americans were being ignored and the party began to play on the emotions of people, touting only the racial implications of denying the first African American candidate the White House.
I continued to identify as a Democrat throughout the Obama administration. I never hid the fact I did not support Obama for either of his terms to local party officials. Hell, I used it as a badge of honor in my crusade to change the party. I increased my involvement in community politics. First, attempting to revive the party within my hometown to a party that once again focused on working class individuals. That was met with little enthusiasm from party leaders.
By 2015, the local party meetings had taken on a cult like feel. As Hillary Clinton prepared to announce her candidacy the strategy for victory became clear to me. I had already announced the Democratic Party needed new leadership. Obamacare was becoming a financial burden, working families continued to struggle, and globalism threatened our national security.
Like hypnotists, the party officials waved around the historic value of electing Hillary and implications of sexism to dissuade any dissent among the party members. Again, we were supposed to fall in line and believe in the failed policies of the past 8 years. I had made one final plea for the party to denounce Hillary, to refocus on issues, and to put an end to the identity politics that had pitted neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and Americans against Americans. I was met with jagged criticism. It was simply her turn!
Over the next year, the local Democratic party ostracized me from participation, friends began the process of purging me from their social media lists and feeds. My partnerships to help the homeless were dissolved and party officials removed me from leadership roles. All because I chose to be a freethinking Democrat. The party that promised to include everyone,regardless of your gender, sexuality, or beliefs had taken me and discarded me into a basket of Deplorables.
Clinton supporters continued to shout racism and sexism as fear tactics to prevent their flawed candidate from losing. They walked around with such confidence that Hillary would be President that it became astoundingly annoying. How could they continue to ignore her nefarious record on so many issues? So I decided to abandon the only party I had known.
I was now a “political refuge” searching for a place to call home. Little did I know I would find my spot in an unlikely place. As Donald Trump, a Republican, stood before the media to announce his candidacy for President he began to speak about the reasons he was running. Trump denounced the establishment politicians that had strangled the life out of our country, he began to address specific issues that politicians would not dare speak of. He was talking to me and the people I had fought for -the factory workers, the single parents, the poor, the people struggling under a failed political system. He was talking to everyday Americans. At that exact moment, I vaulted from my seat, I knew I had to be a part of this campaign! Little did I know I would become part of a movement.
Months of campaigning for Trump, attending several rallies, holding flash mobs, being cursed and spit upon all became worthwhile as the election results trickled in November 8th, 2016. The movement started by the PEOPLE emerged victorious, defeating the Democratic strategy of dividing our country by way of racism, sexism, and a catalog of phobias.
For me, NO Presidential campaign had felt this inspiring and it provided America with a new opportunity to once again be governed by the people.
Whether you are Democrat or Republican, a party should not define who you are as an individual. Your actions, your intellect, and your willingness to help our country be successful transcends any party.
Donald Trump inspired me to break free from the chains of the Democratic Party. His supporters welcomed me with open arms.
So the journey continues for me, as I embark to Washington D.C. (inaugural tickets in hand) to take part in this historic inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The excitement is almost overwhelming; I had planned for this opportunity for nearly a year. I will be attending several events during my stay. Many of them I assume will be met with opposing voices trying to once again chain me to the failed ideologies of a liberal agenda.
My thoughts are to come back to you, the reader, with my experiences during the inauguration ceremonies.
No doubt, it will be a monumental experience for me, my first trip to D.C., a newfound hope in America’s future, and most importantly Making America Great Again!