Different.

Though we never talked politics, I grew up in a Republican family. It’s kind of odd that we never talked politics, because my uncle and grandfather were tax assessors, my mother collected the school taxes, my aunt was a town clerk and my father served on the tax assessment grievance board. Voting day always seemed like a big deal; my parents never missed their opportunity to vote. We’d head to the fire department where volunteers went through the voter registration ritual. My mom and dad would take me and my sister in the voting booth with them we were little. My mom made slow, calculated choices when she worked the levers in the voting booth. She told me not to tell my dad who she voted for. My dad found the row marked “Republican” and just clicked every lever on that row. Click click click click, done. As small business owners, my family was fiscally conservative and socially “moderate”. I put the moderate in quotes because it’s a compromise; my dad was right of center and my mom was left of center when it came to the social issues. Politics, religion and the gay were very rarely discussed, so I can’t really speak in depth about how they stood on the issues, but as their only son who happened to also be gay, I never felt anything but loved and accepted.

When I lived in Boston in my early 20s I was told that as a gay man I had to be a Democrat and vote nothing but Democrat. Republicans were evil, evil people that wanted to destroy the world and send the gays to concentration camps. To this day, many of my gay friends think that ALL Republicans are evil, vile creatures that are out to do nothing but destroy the world and throw us all into concentration camps. This troubled me, not only because I came from a Republican family that was quite loving and friendly (I would never, ever trade my childhood in for anything other than what I experienced, I was a very happy child that grew up to become a happy adult man), but labeling people that these declarations addressed seemed just as bad as crazy people labeling all gay men as swishy cross dressers that only worked in hair salons. Rarely is anything that black or white and as I started to make my own decisions and come to terms with my own feelings about society and financial matters and where I stood on the political spectrum, I realized that I was different than most others that I associated with at the time. And as I learned from my family, I kept my mouth shut and talked about things like the weather and other safe subjects. When I voted, I took a cue from my mother and made careful, calculated choices and never told anyone who I voted for. I was concerned that I would be outcast because I didn’t always vote the “gay way”.

In a recent conversation I described myself as “not gay typical”. I’ve also used “I’m more guy than gay” (I really don’t know what that means but I’ve been told on a number of occasions that I dress quite boring and that I don’t match colors well). Quite frankly, to borrow from a relatively recent entry of a fellow blogger, I’ve come to the realization that it’s really not my business what people think of me. I used to worry about this and this is why I kept my mouth shut when certain subjects such as politics came up in conversation. But with the dawning of the New Year, I’ve been thinking about my goals and dreams and my place this world and have been going down through a punch list of where I stand on various subjects.

So here I go… It is my belief that the media is way too involved with the direction of political campaigns. The media has drifted so far away from their role of informing the public that we are basically turning the 2016 Presidential Campaigns into reality shows. The more outrageous the statement, the more outlandish the candidate, the more coverage they get because it brings in more ad revenue. I believe that the media is damaging our political landscape and ultimately is heavily contributing to the destruction of the fabric of our society. Idiotic voices that would never be heard in the past, as they would have been dismissed as sheer lunacy, are now being brought front and center, all in the name of grabbing more advertising revenue. I believe that a person should give more to society than they take. It is our job to build, not to see what we can grab. I think the federally mandated drinking age of 21 is ridiculously high. I think the fallout from the “war on drugs” has been an incredible waste of money. I think law abiding citizens (as determined by a background check) should be able to own whatever guns they want to own. I struggle with the TSA and find much of the what they do as simply an effort to lower unemployment numbers. I hate the name “Department of Homeland Security” and I doubly hate it when a politician refers to the United States as “The Homeland”. I believe that there should be term limits on welfare for those over 21 and I believe that those on public assistance should be drug tested, just like I have been for the last three employers I have worked for. I have a problem with a system that rewards reckless procreation from those that can’t even take care of themselves. I struggle with the fact that adults between the age of 21 and 27 are covered under their parents’ health insurance, as I believe that young adults should be supporting themselves by their mid 20s. I don’t like the fact that buying health insurance is now mandatory else I receive tax penalties from the government. I don’t believe that fast food restaurants should be paying $15 an hour. I still believe in the American dream of owning your own business and I believe corporations should pay their share of the tax burden. I am very concerned about how much debt our country has amassed. I don’t believe that those that are successful in their career should be penalized by paying a higher percentage of income tax simply because they make more.

I don’t consider myself to be well informed but I am always working to improve that. I listen to moderate talk radio. I follow blogs and Twitter feeds from folks all over the political spectrum. Some of my best friends are solid Republicans, others are solid Democrats. I know a LOT of people in the middle. Learning has never hurt anyone and I am reading, thinking and forming my own opinions. I won’t be told what to think. I drink in any information I can find. The trick is to find unbiased news sources. This is why I follow outlets from many different angles.

I recently read “No Hope: Why I Left The GOP (And You Should Too)” by former GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia. I found the book to be a very good read. As a gay Republican, I have seen Jimmy’s name came up on a good share of gay-oriented blogs over the years and vast majority of what I have read on those blogs has been quite unkind. So many catty remarks because Jimmy didn’t tow the prescribed gay agenda like a good homosexual. It was good to read about his political path in his own words. So many in both the gay and straight communities have been so unkind to him. I have never agreed with attacking him because of his opinion and I was eager to read his book when I read of its announcement. I found his words to be inspiring because he wasn’t afraid to think differently. He makes a lot of valid points. I haven’t always agreed with GOProud, but I get what they were trying to do and I understand that they were trying to bring about change to the GOP. Truth be told, the GOP has some big problems in its party. I really think they’ve lost touch on who the U.S. is today and that they spend way too much time catering to the lunatics on the far right. On the other hand, the Democrats seem to be spending money like a sailor in a whorehouse and not really caring how the debt is going to be paid. Both parties have flung themselves to the extremes. Neither party really seems to focus on the middle.

I’m eager to see how this 2016 Presidential Election shakes out. As a good U.S. citizen, I will do my best to be informed, think for myself and make what I feel is a rational, well-thought out decision come voting day. I urge everyone to shut out the noise, from the media, from the blogs and from people who think that they can tell you what you should think, and for you to be yourself and vote for whom you believe in.

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