That time I voted for President and my candidate lost.

This is my first confession, on this blog, and I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post since the 2012 election. Unfortunately, I was afraid that many people, some of them my well meaning friends, might misinterpret my purpose. I allow that this may still happen even now, but I must get this off of my chest.
Many of you are down about the election results. I have to say, I really understand. No, I don’t understand in th
at way that people say, “I’m sorry that happened, and I understand why you are upset.”
And I don’t mean that I understand because I feel exactly the way you do. I would not presume that much.
I mean, every Presidential election that I have voted in, the candidate I have voted for has lost. In case you haven’t guessed, I voted for Clinton this year.
And there goes half of my audience.
But what if I told you that I had voted Republican since 1992?
And… there goes the other half.

I was a young Republican. This “choice” was aided by an upbringing as an evangelical. I am very glad that my life’s journey has taken me on this course, through a post-evangelical existence, but I cannot revise my personal history. At each decision point, I felt and still do, that I had valid reasons for voting the way I did.
Throughout the 90’s “the Clintons” were the bad guys. During a campaign stop in Longview, Washington in 1996, I saw Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Al and Elizabeth Gore. Gore said he “felt at home” around so many trees (Longview is one of many “Tree City USAs) and he delivered this with a wooden inflection.
Bill Clinton was truly charismatic. I could feel why people followed him in the general election. As the candidates left the field (this was in front of the high school where I graduated no less!) through a corridor created by temporary fencing and watchful secret service agents, I stood nearly right on the temporary fencing. I had my toddler daughter in one arm, and I put the other out to shake the President’s hand. He took it. I think he even smiled at my daughter (which is not meant to be some underhanded joke). I was over the moon about actually seeing with my own eyes the person that ran the country! Here was the guy. He was tall! He was energetic! He smiled at my daughter!
I still voted for Dole. I was a RED voter, after all. Dole was humble and served in a war. That was enough for me. Just give me the guy with the “R” next to his name.
In the late nineties I was in my late twenties. My views on the world were changing. My limited world hemmed in by other people’s opinions was not enough. There was the whole spiritual wanderlust that I had succumbed to (and the subject of a future confession). By the 2000 election, I was looking for something politically different. I attended a Ralph Nader rally.
It was amazing. There was so much energy. There were at least 10,000 people there. My grandfather had spoken highly of him and so it became a question whether this might be a viable direction for my fledgling support.
But he wanted to tax profit at 100%. That’s just dumb.
Then, the Republican primary was underway. I felt a great sense of hope and pride as Elizabeth Dole, former President of the Red Cross and wife of the aforementioned Bob Dole, ran for the nomination. I readied myself for her to make her way across the electoral map so I could help win Washington for the first woman President.
And then she was annihilated by Bush in New Hampshire. Something about how that went down really bothered me. Sure, there was McCain, the Maverick, but even he was beat by the Bush campaign machine. As George Bush won the nomination, I knew I would not be voting for him. But Gore, who had so much in common with the trees in my hometown four years before, didn’t seem like an option for me either.
So I stayed out of it and the ensuing legal battle that gave us Bush. And two wars. And Guantanamo. And, and, and…
2004, I refused to vote for him again. The Republicans were beginning to lose me over Iraq and the Patriot Act. Don’t even get me started on water-boarding. Still, not ready to vote Democrat (John Kerry that year).

In 2008, my single issue was Guantanamo and the torturing and mistreatment of prisoners. It’s inhumane anywhere, the things that were going on and it needed to stop. The people being held there (for even terrorists are people) were not charged, not in any type of system that any fair-minded person would consider balanced with jurisprudence.
Obama promised to close Guantanamo in the first 100 days and he had vanquished Hillary Clinton, the evil witch of the nineties (tongue in cheek). But Obama was new, fresh and without much of a record. He sounded good, but John McCain had been a POW and didn’t he know how it was? Surely he would be the way to resolve this horrible policy of mistreatment that HAD to be solved within the Republican party, after all.
We got our first African-American President, instead. I teared up at his Inauguration. There were reservations. He was a Democrat, after all. As President, he had my support, even though I still identified as a Republican.
2012 Obama ran for re-election. He had proven a worthy President, able and even-tempered. Republicans hadn’t even really given him a chance. He still hadn’t closed Guantanamo, there was progress, but there was Mitt Romney who had turned some companies around, maybe he could…
I knew it even then, that I was casting my last vote for Republicans. I still hadn’t made the leap to vote Democratic Party. It just seemed very weird to me.
Then the Republicans validated every second-guessing I ever did. Trump, by far, earned my distrust with his language, his choice of words, the grossness that didn’t belong in the long line of very refined politicians that had represented the GOP in the past. People like Dole, McCain, and Romney. Humble people who served their party and gave graceful concession speeches. I knew, because I listened to all of them.
I had voted for them.
They had lost.
Each and every one of them had lost.
In 2016, as there wasn’t one GOP candidate that stood out for me (my single issue this year was Immigration – I believe in open borders and open minds – and of course, Guantanamo is still open – Obama did what he could, but there are still human beings (and they are) being held in limbo and their basic human rights are not being protected).
Bernie Sanders was different (echoes of Nader without the unworkable positions). I followed him as he gathered support across the country and went with my wife to Caucus for him where we won 80% of our Caucus!
He was different.
He might mean change.
But, he lost to Hillary Clinton. The GOP was not going to get my vote. I was not going to sit it out this time.
I started thinking about Hillary Clinton. About how I had passed up the chance to vote for Obama. I started thinking about over 200 years of white males being President and what it meant now that that wasn’t true.
I thought of Elizabeth Dole and how excited I was at the very early prospect of a female President!
I analyzed why I distrusted Hillary so much. I had seen her in the flesh, after all. She used the wrong email server? Something like that. Why did I care? I caucused for Bernie. I would have gone door to door for Elizabeth Dole.
Why not Hillary?
Her only crime being that she had been a public Democrat in the nineties?
I started putting out feelers to my friends and family. Some were aghast. Some were ecstatic. Others didn’t care. With the implosion of reason in the GOP and myself having already gone “all-in” for Sanders, I started re-examining my position on Hillary.
I, a former young Republican and former Evangelical, had become a fan of Hillary Clinton.
I swelled with pride as she shimmied to the finish line. I enthusiastically voted for her (by mail in Washington).
Then, she lost.
I will defend that vote to my dying breath, as I will every vote I have taken. For each decision was made at the time with care and thoughtfulness, as much as I could bear at that point in my life. One day, I hope to vote for a winning President, but I would settle for voting for the losing candidate and the right side of history every time. I have not given up support for the next female President. The next ___ President. Until they keep winning.

Until then…,
Every single Presidential candidate that I have voted for has lost and so when I say that “I understand” how you feel, dear Clinton supporter, I really, really, really mean it. I voted_lost

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s