As I sit here, reading blog post and blog comment after blog post and blog comment, I am struck by how diverse we are as a group. Most of us are friends or at least friends of friends. Most of us have met each other at some stage, if only briefly. We all have some things in common, and a lot more things not in common. We are tall, short, skinny, fat (I speak only for myself with this one lest I incur the wrath of others), various colors, various religions and various sexual orientations. We are a giant group of mutts.
Some of us are more financially affluent than others. Some of us are single parents. Some of us are unemployed or underemployed. Some of us work 2 jobs and are struggling to buy food for our family. Some of us struggle with the real-world issues of discrimination, while others of us have no idea what that struggle is all about. Some of us are glass half full people and others of us are glass half empty people.
My point here is we are all different. So very different. None of us would, I would like to believe, judge any one of us for the aforementioned differences; we would all try to find a way to help each other. This specific group, the readers of this blog, the members in the associated groups we belong to that brought us all together would help each other. I know this because we have all done it. We have all helped one another out in some form. From Kari planning surprises for people, to arraigning travel and funding for at least 2 people I know to attend events that were very important to them, to dozens of members pitching in time, money, experience and planning for others to have birthday parties and family functions, to the daily pep talks in the different groups we are involved in. We have become friends. We have become family. We have become united in a cause bigger than ourselves. So with all of that, why would we, a microcosm of society, judge, mock, ridicule or otherwise talk badly about how one of us voted. We are all very different, as noted above. We all have different needs in life. We all have different values. We all have different wants for our family. This is exactly why we vote for change every four or eight years.
Kurt addressed some of what I was going to say with his comments on our various political candidates, so I will not rehash them. Instead, I will address some things that I have noticed in the last few days. Maybe you have noticed them all along and I am late to the game, maybe you never noticed them and I will be pointing out something you will see in everyday life now. I will start by giving you a little bit of my background, for those who think I am just a pretty face.
I am 47 years old. I have been married and divorced more times than I would like to admit. I am married now and I have 2 daughters of my own and adopted my 2 bonus children, a boy and a girl from Australia. I am a veteran, a fact I do not discuss often. I was a good soldier, until I wasn’t. I was a mentally stable, self-directed, squared away individual, until I wasn’t. I was separated from the Army honorably under medical conditions. I knew no other life than the Army and when released, I could not find a job or housing. I was one of the people you see in the corner begging for money, except I was too proud to beg so I just stayed under my bridge, homeless and broken. I caused the loss, of what I thought for a long time, was my life. I had no will to live and every wish to die. I knew I could never do it myself, so I engaged in stupid, overly risky things to try to end my miserable existence. I became involved with some bad people and I did some bad things, and went to some bad places. That said, I fully understand and sympathize with people who are having a hard time, or struggling to find food, or housing. I understand being a broken and dysfunctional person. I have been there, done that….until I changed my outlook and direction.
I have given lectures at Habit for Humanity, The Denver Rescue Mission, The Nashville Rescue Mission, several prisons across America and to a couple of high schools. I have been asked to write a book to help others with PTSD overcome some of their obstacles. I declined to do this, partly because I am too selfish to open up in the level of detail needed to complete a book with enough information to be helpful. The lectures are all I can do for now. I am still broken, and I am still defective, but I am working on getting better every single day.
There have been people in this group whom I became very close to; people that helped me overcome some issues, people who have shown me compassion and respect. People who have called me out when I was having a pity party. People have asked me, how did you get past where you were? How did you overcome the barriers that you faced? How did you overcome the prejudice and the prejudging of the circumstances of your life? My answer is so simple its almost silly. I woke up one day and said, out loud to myself, “I am tired of this shit”. That’s is it. That is the catalyst for my change. I am tired of this shit. Period.
Now you may think, gee…wonderful…you are tired of this shit…but how does that change anything, we are tired too but that doesn’t change our life…..you are right. The statement alone does not change your life….you change it. You make daily choices to be who you are. A phrase I learned a long time ago…if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting. So I changed. I woke up and decided I didn’t want to live under the bridge any more. I went to the rescue mission to get a shower and a change of clothes. I went on a job interview and was hired! I thought, “gee this was easy.” I got a job on my 1st day of looking. I was the new fry cook at KFC, until I wasn’t. I lasted 1 day. I quit. I was a former NCO in the Army, with command experience. I would be damned if a high school junior was going to boss me around. By God, I was entitled to more than that. I deserved more than that. I was angry. I was frustrated. I will spare you all the details, you can read it in the book, lol. Bottom line was, I learned very fast I was not entitled to a damn thing except what I earned. I did not command respect because I did not show respect.
It never dawned on me that this junior high school student earned his position there. By the way, that high school student went on to join the Navy after high school, is still in the Navy ,and will likely retire with 20 years of service and more combat duty than I had. I had to learn to be grateful, humble and respectful for the things I had. Only then could I appreciate what others around me had. I earned every single thing I had. I never received welfare. I never received government help. I am not putting down those who need it, I know everyone needs help at some time. I went on to completing college, running several companies, opening several companies of my own, selling a few of them, going back to school and getting my JD, and running my companies. Life was great, until it wasn’t. I got divorced and she took almost half of all I earned, and a large portion of the rest went to the attorneys. How dare she do that… I was entitled to this…I deserved this…..sound familiar? I had come full circle. Then, I sat back and listened to myself. I had not done this by myself. I had not created this empire alone. SHE was entitled to her share and she deserved her due. So we did the math and settled the score.
I am sure by now you are all wondering what the hell any of that has to do with this blog. I felt it was important for you to know where I have been so you can better understand that I know where many of you are right now. Where many of you have been and where many of you want to be. I have been homeless, rich, in and out of trouble, up, down, on medication, off medication; I have been a mess. So, I get it. Which brings me to the point of my story.
I was sitting at dinner with a few friends the other day and the topic of politics came up. Those of you who know me well, know I will argue with a fence post just for the sake of agreement. I enjoy it. I was captain of the debate team in high school. The topic of gays came up and one of my friends commented that he had nothing against gays as what they did in the privacy of their own home was none of his concern. I may have had a bit too much to drink and may have let my emotions guide the conversation a little. I said to him, what do you mean “in the privacy of their own home?”
“I have several friends that are part of the LBGT community”, I said to him. “Should my gay friends only be allowed to be gay at home, in the privacy of their own home? Should they not be allowed to hold hands in Walmart without being looked at differently, or mocked, or worse, beaten? If my friend George and Tom want to hold each other in the line at the movie theater and steal a kiss, should they not be allowed to do that, just like I do with my wife, or you do with your wife?”
At this point, it was fairly evident I was a tad pissed off. So I excused myself, got rid of several ounces of my bourbon and came back. The topic had changed to abortion….here we go again. “What do you mean abortion is wrong? What business is it of yours if Mary gets an abortion? (yes I saw the irony in that statement, but his wife’s name was Mary!) She has a right to choose what she does with her body. She has a right to make decisions that will affect her, her partner and her family, free from my opinion and judgement.”
Somehow the topic got turned again and was now on gun control. My friends were chest thumping the 2nd Amendment and how it should never be infringed and how there should be no regulation on guns…to which I stated there should be some regulation on some weapons. There needs to be some common sense on gun control laws. It was a turbulent night to say the least, but the next day, we were all still friends, we all had breakfast and talked about our kids and our dogs and our family. We all went on with our lives and we all still talk every day. I bet by now you think you can guess what political party I belong to…. Once homeless, married to an immigrant, been in and out of trouble, educated, philanthropist, pro-choice, pro LBGT, pro-gun control.
I am a conservative republican when it comes to business matters and economics. I understand that corporate welfare is a sore subject with some people, but I understand that these corporations have a choice as to where to build their stores, factories and offices. I understand that business is about profit. I understand that by giving that corporation a better tax deal than the next state or country, they will build here and bring jobs to THIS area. They will build a store here in this market and employ hundreds or even thousands of locals, building up the local economy. Those people will live and shop here and make a lot more money for the state and county off local taxes and sales tax than they would ever get off the corporate tax.
I am a constitutionalist. I believe the founding fathers knew the dangers of big government and put a plan in place for us to self-govern with minimal federal involvement.
I am a social democrat, to an extent. I believe in helping those who cannot help themselves, but oppose helping those who are just lazy and want to game the system off my hard work.
I believe in LEGAL immigration and do not believe that if you break laws to get here you should be rewarded with an automatic grant of a green card. That’s like saying to an employee, “Gee, I know things are tough at home, and I know you really needed the money, so I forgive you for stealing money out of the store and oh by the way, can you work the next 2 shifts, they will be really busy and have lots of cash.” I do not believe in sanctuary cities.
I am a progressive when it comes to women’s rights and the right of all people to live free and happy lives, regardless of their race, color, sexual gender or sexual preference. I believe that ALL couples should be allowed to adopt children and be able to provide a better life for them than being kept in a system that is unhealthy.
I am pro-military and believe we should have the best military force in the world. I believe that military personal are the least paid and appreciated of all carriers, save maybe teachers. I believe all military personal, whether active duty, retired or just honorably discharged should receive medical benefits for life.
I am for a national healthcare system like they have in Australia. It comprises a government funded system, as well as a private system. If you can afford to pay the private rates, you have the advantage of faster service and choice of doctors. If you cannot, then you go on the government rolls and, because of supply and demand, you will have to wait a little longer but will pay far less. (For more detailed information, you can see their system here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Australia#National_health_policy)
I believe college should cost people. That cost can be either through community service or paying your way. I believe that things given are not as prized as things earned. College is not something that is needed for you to excel in this world. Trade schools and vocational schools are a cheaper way to go and get the same skills. I believe there are enough things that can be considered community service that we can make a system where you can get the education you want, while serving your community.
As you can see, I am made up of all kinds of positions and no one candidate will fit for me. So, like so many, I am forced to prioritize my values. I have to decide which candidate will do the most good for what I believe in while doing the least damage to things I believe in. It has nothing to do with hate, or oppression or class warfare. It has nothing to do with the color of a person’s skin or who they are married to. It is really as simple as just putting all my beliefs on a scale and weighing which person will do the best job for what I want done based on my beliefs. I voted for George H.W. Bush. I voted for Bill Clinton both times. I voted for George W. Bush both times. I voted for Obama. I voted for Mitt Romney. I voted for Donald Trump.
For me, Trump’s life experience and his business ideals, his ability to cross party lines, his ability and willingness to say what he means and mean what he says is a good thing. I know so many people are saying …but what about this, or that, or his being a racist, or all the other stuff. Every single political person says and does things to get elected. I firmly believe the ratio is believe 30% distrust 50%, and end up with the 20%. No matter who it is. So the only thing you can go by is their history. For me, I most aligned with Trump’s history. I do not trust Hillary. I do not believe in Johnson. For me the scale was tipped the moment Trump got the nod. He was not my 1st choice in the GOP, hell he was not in my top 5, but at the end of the day, he got the nod. He got my vote and he got the Presidency. Now I think we all need to give him the chance to make or break himself. Stop the hate. Stop the fear. Stop the riots. Start the healing process and, I won’t say let’s make America Great Again, because I believe America has been and will always be great, regardless of who is at the helm, because WE ARE America, and we are great.
I voted for Trump. I voted that way for many reasons.