Once a Democrat, Now a Republican: A Bit About My Journey
We now have #Blexit and the #Walkaway movement encouraging disgruntled Democrats to show their disdain and disgust of the party by de-affiliating. There seems to be some movement in this direction as evidenced by 2010 polling showing fewer blacks identifying as Democrat. A few of us walked away before it became trendy. I was one of them.
My decision to become a Republican was not an easy decision. It was a gradual process over a period of more than a decade. My disillusionment with the Democratic Party caused me to shift from identifying myself as a Democrat to calling myself an Independent. I finally became a Republican in 2009. This was after President George W. Bush had appointed me to two political positions as an independent; one where I served on the National Endowment of the Humanities and the other on the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
For many black Americans, such as myself, being a Democrat is as natural as breathing. I spent almost two-thirds of my adult life in the Democratic Party. I was born into the party, and I believed that the Republicans were the party of the rich and the Democrats were the party of the working man. Under those circumstances, party affiliation was a no-brainer. Later, while I was attending college and becoming more politically aware, I found myself persuaded by history and political science books that the Republicans were the party of racism while Democrats were the party of civil rights.
As a child, I believed I lived in the greatest nation in the world; as a young adult, I found myself strongly committed to the nation’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Despite being raised in poverty and lacking certain advantages, I still believed in America. So, it was only natural that I would eventually turn to embracing the Republican Party platform, with its emphasis on free market capitalism, individual rights, limited government, and equality.
The main catalyst for me to change my party affiliation was a growth in my Christian faith that accelerated in 1999, causing me to question and reexamine everything I had believed about the world. However, I was not ready to become a Republican, so I suffered silently with my cognitive dissonance, which means holding views and perspectives different from my actions and behaviors. That was until 2009, when I made the decision to stop standing in the middle throwing rocks at both political parties, and I got involved in helping to elect candidates who shared my values and principles.
Again, the change was not a straight-line process. As my discomfort with the Democratic Party increased, I de-affiliated by becoming an Independent, voting almost exclusively for Republican candidates. It would take a decade for me to reach the point of publicly self-identifying with Republicans. This was difficult even though I had long argued that blacks should align themselves with both political parties to ensure maximum political influence. It made a lot of sense to me to have powerbrokers in both political parties who could interpret and articulate group concerns.
Intellectually, I knew the histories of the two parties and how the Republican Party had been the party of Lincoln and how it had fought for anti-lynching laws and integration. Nevertheless, like many other college-educated Americans, I bought into the myth known as the Southern Strategy, whereby the two parties switched places. The Democrats supposedly became the party of civil rights and the Republicans the party of racism, a perception that I now know to be false. My intimate knowledge of individual Republicans around the country encourages me greatly about America and its potential.
Once I became a Christian, I saw stark contradictions between my biblical worldview and the Democratic Party’s position on the issues I care about most deeply. My faith dictated that I align myself with the party offering the strongest defense of the constitutional rights of the unborn, the perpetuation of marriage between a man and a woman, religious liberty and freedom of conscience, and support and defense of Israel. The Republican Party’s historical commitment to civil rights, free market capitalism, limited government, and individual liberty factored into my decision-making.
Americans should have great concern about the Democratic Party’s alliance with the liberal media. It’s a partnership that enables liberal politicians to use non-stop attacks and criticisms of President Trump to deceive and persuade voters that Republicans are the root of all evil. That in itself is both false and evil on the parts of the political left and the liberal media.
What we have watched over the past few months is a political party that has allowed itself to be overrun and taken over by its most radical elements. I am disturbed by the willingness of elites in the Democratic Party to argue against due process rights, the presumption of innocence, and the rule of law. Equally frightening is their concerted efforts to bring socialized medicine to America by changing the intent and purpose of the Medicare program.
My hope is that millions of other former Democrats of all races, ages, and ethnicities will awaken to the possibility of living in an America that has disintegrated to the point it shares more in common with Third World nations from which migrants flee than the country that was once characterized as the land of the free and the home of the brave.