Paraphrasing President Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the party left me. I’m a white male, age 64, raised in the South, and a retired military officer. I should be a Republican, right? Not so, and here’s why.
All people matter. I believe in the middle class, or what’s left of it. For far too long, the middle class has been shortchanged by our political and business elites.
I believe our political processes ought not to be awash in money from special interests and incredibly wealthy people. Campaign contributions should be limited, as well as terms of office. See the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding term limits for the president.
I believe in the rule of law, but once a social issue has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, I don’t believe in litigating the fringes of that issue for decades thereafter and diverting the attention of American voters from the real issue at hand, i.e., our generation of Americans will be the first to leave behind a world for their children where they will be worse off than their parents.
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I believe health care, to some extent, ought to be a right of every American.
I believe in right to work laws, but not if they result in increasingly lower wages for American workers. I believe individuals ought to be able to make ends meet by having one full-time job with benefits as opposed to two or three part-time ones without them.
I believe in public education since I’m a product of it, but students and teachers must have dedicated support and the encouragement of parents and/or guardians throughout the educational process.
I believe in free trade, but not when other countries dump their products in America at prices lower than their cost of production or have currencies and exchange rates driven by other than market forces.
I believe in capitalism, but not when those who exhort its virtues, i.e., “the haves,” are subsidized more than “the have nots,” who are left to collect proverbial scraps under “the haves’” economic tables.
I believe in a fair tax system where all American individuals, including corporations, pay their fair share of taxes while closing tax loopholes and ending generous subsidies for the few. The tax code ought not to be used for social engineering or to subsidize those who can fend for themselves.
I believe in religious freedom, but not if it gives any American the right to discriminate against others based on race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. No religion should preach intolerance.
I believe in individual rights, especially privacy, but I do believe they can be reconciled with our national security interests. See Sen. Frank Church’s (D-Idaho) committee report in 1975 wherein he did an outstanding job of balancing them both in the wake of incredible abuses by the U.S. intelligence community.
I believe in controlled immigration with secure borders even if it changes the fabric of our society, because we have always been a nation of immigrants. It sickens me to hear Republican candidates discuss immigration issues.
Finally, I believe in the right to bear arms, but not by any person, of any weapon, at any time, and in any place. Concealed weapons being carried by college students while in their classes? Give me a break. Talk about a chilly effect on academic freedom.
In summary, I believe in moderation, civility and compromise, and oppose extremism whether it’s on the left or the right.
Robert Blevins lives in Garden City. He retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force in 2004, retired from federal civil service in 2010, and has served as a lawyer and member of the Florida Bar Association for 35 years.