Once upon a time, I used to vote for the candidate, not the party. 

When President George W. Bush took office, our country was in the black and financially healthy. Very quickly, Bush started doling out our country’s rainy-day reserve. Next, Bush put us into a war in a region that has been at war for many, many generations.

My brother, the die-hard Republican, votes straight ticket. Rush Limbaugh is his god/mentor. During Bush’s reign, my brother tried to convince me that we would finance the war with money from the Middle Eastern oil fields we would get control of. I tried to tell him that the U.S. couldn’t do that because that would make us just another aggressor. But he was convinced we would do it because of all the Republican hype he had heard that we could. But …

The war hasn’t just killed our men and women, it has also killed our rainy-day reserve and the financial stability of our country. By the time Bush’s reign came to an end, our country’s financial base was broken and on an uncontrolled downhill slide. Working taxpayers became the unemployed who now needed to get the system to help them instead of them helping the system with their tax dollars. Help from the system has run out for many of them. These are the same people who used to shop, pay their bills, and pay taxes. 

Many corporations have moved much of their operations offshore. This means millions of jobs, now and in the future, are no longer available within the U.S. This means millions of Americans won’t be able to buy products that support our businesses or pay taxes. It is a vicious cycle. “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Where is the “middle” class headed?

When Bush’s reign ended, the Republican Party declared war within the U.S. No way was a Democrat, and a black one at that, going to be president. Many elected Republicans I once respected jumped on the Republican bandwagon and started voting “party” not “country.”

Our nation’s two-party system was to safeguard our country and the lives and stability of all Americans. Both parties were to work together. With the end of the Bush era and resultant financial collapse that began during Bush’s reign, the Republicans have become the party of no. They seem to have lost sight of working together to build our country. Too many decent Republicans have put party first, country second. I now lack the faith that decent Republican candidates will be able to withstand the pressures of the Republican machine to put party first. As for tea partiers, they are mostly extremely conservative Republicans. 

I’m off the fence, and am now a die-hard Democrat.

KAREN ELDER

Astoria

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