Back in November, I met someone who was running for the town board where I live. He was actually campaigning, as a Republican, for a seat on the board. I must point out that the town, where I live, is a heavily Republican town outside of staunchly Democratic Rochester, New York. I politely told the man that I was a Democrat and would not support him. He asked me if I would consider voting Republican in the local election. Instead of just saying no, I went ahead and explained my position.
I told him that I grew up in a family where both of my parents were Democrats and my father worked in a factory and belonged to a union. Because my father belonged to a union, we weren’t wealthy but we never wanted for anything. I had severe asthma when I was younger and was frequently admitted to the hospital, or receiving treatment at home from my pediatrician (that was back in the days when doctors made house calls). All of this was covered by insurance that the union fought for and Republicans fought against.
I then told him I was gay and I was married to my husband, who is from Malaysia and now a U.S. citizen. I told him that ever since I realized I was I can remember how hard the Republican party fought to deny gays basic human rights, including the right to marry the one they loved. I went on to tell them that I had to move to Malaysia to be with my partner because Republicans would allow him to join me in this country. I told him that Republicans, for years, had prevented gays from visiting their partners if they were hospitalized, because there was no recognized familial relationship.
I reminded him how the Republican icon, Ronald Reagan, ignored the Aids Epidemic, while tens of thousands of gays died because the epidemic had not yet hit the straight white population. Reagan also eliminated the Community Mental Health Systems Act, which Carter and the Democrats, had introduced to fund community mental health centers. Today we are still paying for his deliberate negligence with the epidemic of gun violence and domestic abuse.
I told him that now I am older and retired I am living in fear. The Republicans are still trying to destroy my marriage with their attempts to repeal same-sex marriage and as well as legalizing discrimination against the LGBTQ community as well as people of color. I am living in fear that the right to vote will be taken away from my friends and fellow countrymen who happen to be non-white.
As with all senior citizens in this country, I am afraid of getting sick. With the Republicans being owned by big pharma, all but the very rich among us can afford their prescription medication. We are all one sickness away from being financially destroyed. If we were living in any other industrialized nation in Europe, North America, or Asia we would not have to worry about healthcare. I have worked all of my life to be able to retire, but now life has become a gamble. Will I stay healthy and enjoy my life or will I get sick and lose everything I have worked for?
To make matters worse, as I continued my lecture to the Republican hopeful, the money I have worked for and contributed to Social Security now can be taxed if I have invested wisely. Once again thanks to Ronald Reagan, who in 1983 passed a law allowing the IRS to tax social security benefits on 85% of benefits instead of the previous 50%. And don’t forget Reagan cut the corporate tax rate from 70% to 50% and Trump lowered them even more. So who makes up for the loss in revenue? The poor and middle class, of course! In all of my 73 years in this country, nothing from the numerous tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations ever trickled down to me.
In 2016 the Republican party gave me Donald Trump as president (with a little help from Russia). During those 4 years, I saw immigrants, people of color, gay people, scientists, Mexicans, and all foreigners, except for the white ones, demonized. I saw the decades-old relationships with our closest allies destroyed. I saw the poor and the handicapped ridiculed, while vicious inhumane dictators were catered to. I saw good decent women defiled. I saw the country divided, as never before. And then finally I saw him attempt a coup to overthrow the new duly elected President to remain in power. And not once did I hear any sitting Republican town board member speak out against Trump’s atrocities!
So Mr. Republican town board wannabe, “Hell No! I wouldn’t vote for any member of a party that vows to destroy me, my marriage or my democracy”!
From the candidate, just an insincere “Thank you”.
Still today I look back on that conversation and wonder, with all that is going on with the revelations of the Trump insurrection, how anyone could vote Republican. If they get their own way we may never have another election in this country.
Originally published in Rogues’ Gallery on Medium.com
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