No, I’m not going to vote for them, but this lifelong right-of-center soul has given to three Democratic Presidential candidates. My tale of “why?” is a reminder we often focus on voting cohorts and stereotypes (urban liberals, white Evangelicals, etc) when individual voters have their own unique calculus and motivations that can defy expectations.
When I say “lifelong right-of-center” I mean it. Until the Age of Trump I’d say “lifelong Republican.”
- I grew up outside of Seattle volunteering for GOP candidates for local, state, and federal office.
- I worked for a Republican US Senator (Slade Gorton) for several years out of college, both on his Senate staff and his campaign.
- I ran a Republican campaign for County Executive north of Seattle that was the size of a Congressional seat.
- I was a political appointee for George W. Bush in the Department of Education for 6 years.
- I was a leading contributor at the then-leading conservative political blog in the Seattle media market (Sound Politics).
- I was a delegate to the Washington State Republican Party Convention in 2012…largely to help the pro-Romney forces keep the Ron Paul minion revolution in check.
- I still count myself right-of-center. I’m really a Bush Republican, both HW and W (more on that in a minute).
And in the last couple weeks I’ve donated to Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, and Cory Booker.
The donations were all low dollar, mostly to help the first two get on the debate stage, since one of the participation thresholds from the DNC is 65,000 unique donors, including at least 200 each from 20 different states.
Why do I want them on the debate stage? Each one speaks to an issue I
care about personally.
In the last several years, I’ve switched to eating plant-based (aka
vegan). I practice yoga, and become a certified yoga instructor. My hippie quotient
is pretty high. And I moved from the Seattle-area to New Orleans, now living in
the oldest African-American neighborhood in the country.
And of those three candidates:
- Tulsi Gabbard is a vegetarian with a hippie surfer vibe who has been outspoken about banning the pesticide glyphosate in the United States. While headlines on glyphosate are about litigation as a potential cancer-causing agent, the broader public health danger of having a water-soluble toxin permeating our food system is my bigger interest.
- Cory Booker is vegan, historically a supporter of education reform (as Mayor of Newark), and a current leader on criminal justice reform.
None of these candidates’ agendas in full are something I endorse or would vote for. Not even close. But the more attention and discussion those candidates get in the public square the better in my view because of those particular issues and qualities I named.
Now, when I say Bush Republican, I count myself in favor of:
- America as an active force for good outside out borders, including support for Israel and opposition to Iran (good Trump), as well as working with our NATO allies to oppose Russia (bad Trump).
- Free trade as an essential and ever-expanding element of the modern global economy.
- Democratic capitalism that works to balance the need for some regulation with the need for innovation, growth, and prosperity.
- Libertarian-leaning stances on many issues where government can infringe on the rights of the individual, such as criminal justice.
Today, the public policy issues I’m most passionate about include criminal justice reform, education reform, and a more rational health care debate…plus ending the idiotic scourge of Trump’s tariff fetish.
Personally, topics around helping people live healthier, happier lives animate me. That doesn’t mean I necessarily support government action in all such issues, but I’m definitely happy to see people in public life talking about them. Thus, the donations.
All of which is a reminder one can’t simply overlay a demographic stereotype of assumptions over all voters. We all have our own reasons, our own interests, and our own decision-making process that doesn’t fit such molds, and which makes politics a more interesting window into the human condition.