Hello again ATS. I've come at this late hour with the hope of clearing my mind, and maybe the air, in a way, about the events of the past year -
especially the past 24 hours.
To those of you who have read my words on ATS, either in agreement or otherwise, I feel that this much is at least owed. It's also something I think
I owe myself - a chance to stitch the random pieces together into a single tapestry so that I might put things in perspective and begin to practice
what I so ardently preach and try so earnestly to adhere to - a breaking of my own "isms"... the destruction of any dogmatic paradigms that might
still be lurking within myself.
Please bear with me... The hour is late, I am currently somewhat sedated from the flu medication that is necessary due to the upper respiratory
infection I am suffering through, and it has been a very long night...
Time is a funny thing from the perspective of a middle aged mind - at least it is to my mind. Sitting here I can still recall being a bit too young to
vote - but being absolutely mesmerized by the Republican candidate - Ronald Reagan. At the time I utterly hated the sitting POTUS, Jimmy Carter. In
school, I had sat and watched news coverage of the Iran hostage debacles, one after another, and had developed a very negative opinion of the man and
his policies. The fact that all of the adults on both sides of my family were ( and still are ) staunch Republicans only served to strengthen my
beliefs. This Reagan guy was a real life cowboy! He was talking tough, promising the sky, and I latched onto the entire premise like a teenage girl at
a Beiber appearance. I went full on fanboy for Reagan. So much so that I rejoiced at his election - and, four years later, cast my very first vote for
It was a proud day for me. One that I'll always remember and cherish... even if I now have mixed feelings about it all, in hindsight.
Four years later I cast my vote for Reagan's VP, George Herbert Walker Bush. Again, filled with pride and nearly blind dedication to the party I had
aligned myself with. I was a young man... strong and aggressive. Anyone who disagreed with my principles was automatically the enemy, as I saw it, and
I attacked them viciously. My mind was much more sharp back then and I could crush people with my words. I did so, on behalf of my party, with zeal. I
had no mercy at all. I was right and I damn well knew it. Or so it seemed to me.
My son was born just a few weeks prior to the outbreak of the first Gulf War. My ex wife and I were sharing a two bedroom apartment with my ex's
sister and brother-in-law, so it was all three of us ( the ex, my son, and myself ) in a small apartment bedroom. I had a terrible job, working in a
restaurant at that point - and worked way too many hours. I would wander into the apartment well after dark, shower, get some food, and then sit -
watching CNN as they played footage of "smart bombs" hitting Iraqi targets. My ex-wife sleeping next to me and my newborn son in a crib, literally
inches away from me. I barely slept during that period. Filled with a young mans sense of patriotism... wishing that I had been able to serve in the
military... wanting desperately to be one of the soldiers in Iraq. But I'd been born with a congenital heart defect - so my shame was that I could
not serve. This made me feel inadequate and isolated.
This is the scene that comes to my mind when I close my eyes and try to recall my sons infancy or my first marriage. Night vision smart bomb strikes
on CNN - watched in a tiny apartment bedroom.
A couple of years later I suffered my first Presidential Election trauma. My man, GHWB lost. I was enraged and inconsolable. Who was this upstart
Clinton? As far as I could tell he was a cheap Kennedy knock-off and the reports of his infidelity chafed at my idealistic view of the world. The fact
that I, at that age, was not the height of moral responsibility in my own right did not even occur to me. I was a regular guy - it was expected that I
might drink too much or flirt with women other than the one I was with. But a Presidential candidate? Well they HAD to be more than that! This began
my four years of absolute meh. I have no idea what the world, at large, was doing during that first Clinton term. I only know that I was none too
happy about much of anything during those years and, freshly divorced, I did what many young people do. I went on a prolonged drunk.
When '96 came along I found myself stymied. Bob Dole became the Republican candidate and he was a guy I couldn't relate to at all
. To me he
seemed like Mumra the Ever Living from the Thundercats! He was so freaking old! To make matters worse, whatever pundit had my attention at that time (
I can't recall to be honest ) was not keen on Dole either. I could not vote for Clinton, on principles... so I sought out another option. I found it
in the person of H Ross Perot.
The period I now laughingly refer to as "The Perot Blunder" is a rather complicated story. It's the tale of a hard headed young man who chose a
candidate and then spent a prolonged period of time willfully and deliberately ignoring all the signs of impending doom that kept coming across the
horizon like a squadron of harbinger fighter jets. The guy went totally nuts, but I was resolute and refused to see it - even though I knew, deep
down, exactly what was happening. Pride would not allow me to change my stated position no matter how strange it all got. And, my God did it get
When Election day came? I cast my vote for the insane man, and did so feigning pride and confidence. Even as I did, however, part of me was already
changing - and I was secretly relieved with Bill Clinton won a second term. This event was the genesis point for the person I am today. This was my
first moment of internal compromise and understanding.
In 2000 I, again, found myself conflicted. Over the previous few years I had really started to like Clinton as a POTUS. But his days were over and Al
Gore was now the batter on deck. I had issues with Al. Growing up I had been a fan of heavy metal music and was deeply aware of the fact that Al and
his wife Tipper had tried their hardest to ban my beloved music. They'd formed the PRMC ( Parents Moral Resource Committee ) and I was very bitter
about it. The labels on your CDs? The ones that say "warning - explicit lyrics"? Yeah. Al Gore did that. He did not invent the Internet - but he was
big on censorship.
Given that my choice was obvious and easy. I voted Bush Jr. I was hesitant about it - but I did it.
And then September 11th happened. That totally fragmented my world, as it did everyones.
In the days following that horrible date America galvanized and became a single unit. We all fell in love with George W and with this country! Me
included! The fire that I'd felt as a kid toward Reagan was back with a vengeance. The "me" who had watched those CNN night vision smart bombs was
resurrected! I was gung-ho and born again, hard. Red to the bone. As folks now say, in humor - thanks to South Park - I was "Murikan" and damned
proud of it!
I imagine much of the country was the same during that period. We'd been attacked and we'd risen to the slight.
This was enough for me to happily and proudly vote for George W the next time around.