Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why, after 34 years, I am no longer a Republican

For my first post in 2 months and since my election loss, I thought it would be good to take a walk down memory lane.

When I was growing up in Erie, PA, it seemed like EVERYONE was a Democrat. My mother and father were Democrats. My grandparents and all of my relatives were Dems. One of my aunts (on my mom’s side) was a Democratic Ward Chairman. Her “job” was to get out the Democratic vote and she was very good at it.

The Mayor of Erie at that time and all of the Councilmen were Democrats. In fact, my dad had a City job that was given to him by the Mayor. Unlike some political appointees, particularly in Kenner, my dad actually knew what he was doing.

About 80% of my hometown were Democrats and the other 20% were too afraid to go out at night.

However, in spite of everyone around me being a “D”, or perhaps because of it, I was drawn to the Republican Party.

My first (and, thankfully, only) brush with the law came when I was 11. I was “arrested” for putting “Nixon – Now More Than Ever” bumper stickers on cars that were parked in a grocery store parking lot. Of course, I didn’t realize that the automobile owners had to give their consent to have the bumper stickers put on their cars.

After my dad and the powers that be (again, all Dems) intervened, my “punishment” was a few hours of elbow grease scraping off the bumper stickers and apologizing to several people that I didn’t know.

So, yes, I was a little overzealous in my “volunteering” for Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign.

When I turned 18, I couldn’t wait to register as a Republican. The first presidential campaign that I really volunteered on was Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign, and I cast my first presidential vote for Reagan that election.

Later, I volunteered on Reagan’s 1984 campaign, George H.W. Bush’s 1988 and 1992 campaigns, and the campaigns of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. In fact, in 2004, I was a Precinct Captain for Bush/Cheney. My job, like my aunt’s decades before, was to get out the vote for W.

I’ve also volunteered or worked on numerous other Republican campaigns in addition to being the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and a Board Member of the Pelican State Pachyderm Club, a large Republican group.

So, why did I become a Republican?

Quite simply, I bought into Ronald Reagan.

Even at 18, I wanted less government. I wanted lower taxes. I wanted government out of my life.

So, why after being a lifelong Republican did I change my party registration today to Libertarian? Well, to be honest, two things happened: Mike Yenni and Roger Villere.

As most of you know, Mike Yenni was re-elected as Mayor of Kenner. He beat me but, he is only indirectly responsible for my changing parties.

When the Jefferson Parish Republican Party endorsed Mike Yenni, I knew that the Republican Party that I signed up for in 1979 was not the Republican Party of 2014 that I wanted to be a part of.

Oh sure, I had my doubts about John McCain and Mitt Romney, but, I could never bring myself to consider voting for an obvious Progressive like Barack Obama who sneered at every political ideal that I still clung to.

No, when the local Republican Party endorses Candidate Y, who tripled sewerage fees, tried to double property taxes, opposed Good Government Charter Changes that 70% of the voters approved, has grown government, and took on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a vote of people over Candidate B (pretty clever, huh?), who opposed each of those things, either the Party doesn’t fit Candidate B or he doesn’t fit the Party.

I’m enough of a realist to know where I’m not wanted and, the Jefferson Parish Republican Party doesn’t want me or what I believe in.

So, how does Roger Villere fit into this blog?

I’ve known Roger for many years even, at one time, considered him to be a friend. I’ve interviewed Roger on the radio, published his press releases on, and supported his efforts as Party Chairman.

However, today Roger went off the deep end and there is no turning back.

By now, I’m sure that you’ve all read about Louisiana Congressman Vance McAllister and his episode(s) with a married staffer. McAllister is also married.

While I don’t condone McAllister’s actions, or the actions of the married staffer, that’s his personal life – it has nothing to do with him being a Congressman.

In that past, I defended Senator David Vitter, and other elected officials, when they’ve made personal transgressions that were not directly related to their positions.

Again, I wasn’t condoning Sen. Vitter’s actions, or the actions of anyone. But, I didn’t believe then or now that Sen. Vitter, or any elected official, should resign because of a personal transgression.

But, the same can’t be said for Roger Villere, the head of the Louisiana Republican Party.

In a statement, Villere said:  

“The Republican Party of Louisiana calls on Vance McAllister to resign his seat in Congress. Mr. McAllister's extreme hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. A breach of trust of this magnitude can only be rectified by an immediate resignation. He has embarrassed our party, our state and the institution of Congress. A video showing him engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress, on public time, in a public office, with one of his employees, was the focus of the national press for days. I call on Mr. McAllister to put the interests of his nation, state and party above his own and step aside.”

What about the interests of the people who elected him?

Where was Roger Villere when David Vitter was caught up in a personal scandal?

Where is Roger Villere now and why isn’t he telling David Vitter to NOT run for Governor?

When Villere refers to “McAllister’s extreme hypocrisy”, perhaps he should look at himself in the mirror because, while McAllister’s indiscretion may or may not blow away, Vitter’s hangs over him and our state like an Albatross and that Albatross will grow to gigantic proportions if Vitter is elected Governor of our state.

No, the fact of the matter is, Villere and the state Republican Party didn’t support Vance McAllister when he ran and now they smell blood in the water. If it wasn’t for this video, I’m sure the party would have found some other reason to turn on McAllister if he voted the wrong way or didn’t eat seafood on a Friday during Lent.

Did McAllister do something stupid? Of course, but, people do stupid  things every day (Remember Mike Yenni trying to double property taxes?) and, as long as it’s not criminal, he should keep his seat.

The voters, and only the voters, of his Congressional District should determine whether or not Vance McAllister resigns or if he is re-elected, not the Chairman of a political party.

What Roger Villere and many in the Republican Party don’t understand is that the reason “why ordinary people are fed up with politics” is because of the hypocrisy of the two-parties.

What, besides being anti-abortion, does the Republican Party stand for? What happened to cutting the budget deficit, reducing government, lowering taxes? How can the Louisiana Republican Party be for “family values” when they want to bash someone who is not favored by the party, while supporting and defending David Vitter?

When I ran against Mike Yenni, I didn't discuss the multitude of rumors about his personal life, the FBI investigation into his emails and texts (other than saying that the investigation is closed and we still haven't been told the entire story by Yenni and the public hasn't seen those emails and texts), or any other "sordid" tidbits that people told me. I wanted to beat Yenni on this issues. 

As I said, I supported and defended David Vitter and I would do the same for Vance McAllister. I care about how he votes on issues, not his personal life. The Louisiana Republican Party should too.

And the Democrats? Well, they truly are the “entitlement” party. We all know what they stand for and, if you’re on the receiving end of those “entitlements”, you may be a Democrat. Clearly, I’m not going to be a part of that party either.

So, since we’ve clearly determined that I can no longer be a Republican (that is, if I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not see a hypocrite looking back at me), and I also clearly cannot be a Democrat, why did I become a Libertarian?

Because, quite simply, Libertarians believe in less government and lower taxes and that, along with being Pro-Life, are at the core of my personal political philosophy.

Do I buy into everything that the Libertarians list in their party platform? Of course not. But, at their core, the Libertarian Party believes in personal accountability and personal liberty – and that is my core.

We live in America – the “land of opportunity”. Nowhere else on earth do people wake up with the opportunities that we have and that most of us take for granted. We can can do anything, be anything. We can dream big dreams and, if we work hard and it fits into God’s plan for us, we can achieve those dreams. That is, as long as government stays out of our way and we don’t hurt other people in the process.

That’s what I think Libertarian’s believe.

 And that is why I am proud to be a Libertarian.

That is, if they'll have a former "lifelong Republican".