Are labels that important?

When I first registered to vote, I was 18 years old. I did so as a Democrat. My parents were registered as Democrats, and almost everyone we knew was a Democrat. Republicans were few and far between.

In those days, there were many factions within the Democratic Party. Some folks were liberal, some conservative, and some moderate, more liberal on some issues and more conservative on others. In effect, there was a two-party system within the Democratic Party.

My first race for assessor was as a Democrat. In 1995, I switched to the Republican Party. The politics of Jefferson Parish had changed, and the national democratic party had begun its move to the far left. Being mostly a moderate, I felt that being a Republican was where I would be most comfortable. And by that time, Louisiana had for decades open primaries where party affiliation made no difference. A voter could vote for whomever he or she chose, one race for a Democrat, and further down the ballot, a vote for a Republican candidate. Voters were in control and could vote for the candidate of their choice.

Now, today, we have a democratic party that has moved to the far left and a republican party dominated by Donald Trump that has moved to the far right. It is hard to find a place to call home.

When I look at Donald Trump red flags pop up everywhere. His effort to overturn the 2020 election has gotten many of his closest associates in legal jeopardy with criminal indictments in several jurisdictions. He worked up his supporters at the January 6th rally outside the Capitol. He failed to immediately call his supporters to leave the Capitol building and go home. A few hours later, he did. Trump’s references to Nazi sympathizers and affection for world dictators and despots like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, N. Korea’s Kim Jung Un, and China’s Xi Jinping are of great concern. Also offensive is his name-calling of his perceived political enemies, sleepy Joe or Crooked Joe, Ron DeSanctimonious, or Tricky Nikki to name a few. Without digging into his far-right political positions, these actions alone by Donald Trump should be enough to scare any American if he were to become president again. Mr. Trump, if elected, says he wants to be a dictator on day one only. No president should consider themself to be a dictator even for a split second, not even Donald Trump.

Now you say, what about President Joe Biden? Like most presidents, he has aged during his first term. Looking at him, I see a man who causes me great concern because of his age and mental acuity. The president often looks confused and seems to need to rely on his staff to escort him around. Other times, he seems fine. People I know who have met with Joe Biden in the Oval Office say he is on the ball. I believe them, but I am still concerned.

The Vice-Presidential picks by both men will be more critical in this election than other picks by other candidates in previous elections. President Biden will pick his current Vice President, Kamala Harris. Donald Trump’s pick has yet to happen. Most likely, his choice will be someone who profoundly admires him, like Marjorie Taylor Greene or J.D. Vance, someone who will mindlessly follow his lead. True leaders do not rely on “yes” men, but it seems that Mr. Trump does.

So, where does this leave the American people? Our choice for president will likely boil down to two men who could better serve our nation by retiring and allowing new, fresh faces to compete for the most important office in our country and the world. My vote? I have no idea, not yet anyway. But I still have hope for our future.

I am no longer a Republican. I recently switched my registration to No Party. I cannot consider myself loyal to either party. Both have left me behind. Many of you will not agree with me, which is fine. But if it opens up a discussion of what we want our future to be, that would be a good thing. We need to go back to the times when we could have a civil discussion without rancor and a sharing of ideas with respect and civility.