A Fist Full of Dollars and Guns

On December 16, House Resolution 4269* was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The title of the resolution is the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2015” and its stated purpose is “To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”

Language is very telling when it comes to proposed legislation as is the intent of such legislation. The intent of this proposed resolution is clearly stated at its beginning: the banning of weapons because the Second Amendment is not unlimited, and for other purposes.

The resolution begins with what types of firearms will be banned and after a complete reading of all the firearms listed to include accessories, pretty much all firearms are included in the ban. To be fair, there is a long list of exempted firearms, but if those exempted firearms are “modified” in any way to include the “banned” accessories, the firearm becomes “illegal.”

However, and herein lies the true intent, there are exemptions to this resolution. As has become the norm for federal resolutions or legislation, the exemption applies to:

– The United States
– Department or agency of the United States or a State
– Department, agency or political subdivision of a State
– Qualified law enforcement officer employed by the United States or a department or agency of the United States
– Or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State for purposes of law enforcement (on or off duty)
– Or a sale or transfer to or possession by a campus law enforcement officer for purposes of law enforcement (on or off duty)

In plain language: only the government be it federal, state or local may possess, own or sell “assault weapons.”

The theory behind the resolution is that if the government makes it harder to purchase, own or use firearms – for the non-government citizen, that is – gun violence will be reduced. This might prove even a little accurate if it weren’t for cities such as Chicago. This city has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, yet somehow those laws haven’t stopped hundreds of Chicago residents from being murdered, year after year.

So here we are – under the guise of a feel-good resolution, the real intent is to increase the power of the government and decrease the liberties of the people. Of course not one of the sponsors or co-sponsors of this resolution would dare admit the truth because it wouldn’t serve their purpose. Instead, emotionally-laden arguments are used to persuade people to support such legislation. Should the same standard for “assault weapons ban” be applied to other areas, a good many things would be banned.

The standard for banning assault weapons is that elected officials need to ensure guns are not put in the wrong hands with the intent to do harm: Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Columbine, et al.

With this standard in place, when will a resolution be passed banning money because before a gun can be purchased, legally or illegally, a person must have some form of money to purchase the gun. So to ensure no “illegal assault weapon” is purchased, all money must be banned – thus eliminating any purchase of “illegal assault weapons.”

Well that’s just crazy many would reply, but not if the same logic applied to guns is applied to money. A follow on argument might be that money doesn’t kill people but guns do kill people. Again, the argument is illogical because money can kill people if the intent is there to do ill with money.

An oft-misquoted verse is money is the root of all evil; however, an accurate reading is, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10

As we can read, it is not money that is the root of all kinds of evil, but rather the love of money.

Imagine, if you will, finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk. That $100 bill has no power on its own. If you choose to leave it there on the sidewalk, there it will remain, causing no one harm or good. If you choose to pick up that $100 bill, your intent for the money will determine if it is used for harm or good.

Many a people have been ruined as a result of a love of money and the desire to possess it at all costs. Prisons are just as full of men and women who have conned others out of money for their own use as they are with people who have committed crimes using guns – both resulting in many ruined lives.

Revisiting Chicago: The desire for many to have money and lots of it have resulted in rampant criminal activities such as drug pushing, robberies or thefts, pimping, to the killing of innocent people.

Now imagine that instead of a $100 bill, a 9mm has been placed on a sidewalk. The gun itself is neither harmful nor good. Again, the intent of the person picking up the gun will determine if it is to be used for good or ill.

Going back to Chicago, the love of money has led many a person to illegally purchase a gun to commit acts that garner them money, and it is money that purchases the tool used to achieve perceived riches.

Returning to HR4269, this proposed legislation will have only the most negligible effect on gun murders but it will have a great effect on law-abiding Americans who have never committed a crime using a gun, or otherwise.

So my parting question is: who will stop any level of government from usurping more power and rights from the people should the people be disarmed? (More on that question and Second Amendment in another post.)

*https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4269/text

Lost the Battle?

Upon reading my recent musings on a woman’s body, a woman’s choice, a friend texted me the following:

“Unfortunately, we have lost this battle. I don’t believe that there is any ground to gather at this point. While I believe abortion is homicide, the battle I think we still have a chance on is paying for them with tax money.”

I texted back that I disagreed with his assessment, but first let me state, the post wasn’t about abortion per se, but rather the illogical argument made when advocates state it’s a woman’s body and thus her choice. If we take that argument to its logical conclusion then there are a good many “anti-choice” laws that should be repealed from drug laws to prostitution laws, because the “my body, my choice” argument applies as surely to those laws as it does to other behavior driven laws.

As a teacher, I have had the opportunity to get students critically thinking about their positions and to take their positions to their logical conclusions. At a minimum, to urge them to apply the same standard to all opinions of laws.

For example, during one class lecture on the steps of policy making, I used the secondary education system as an example. Many school districts across the nation have had to grapple with students who identify as transgender and what that means with regard to bathrooms and locker rooms. One young dual-enrolled (female) student commented that school districts should allow a boy who identifies or feels like a girl the use of the female bathroom for changing and toilet use. I asked if the girls who use the bathroom or locker room should be considered when making this decision, the student replied, “No.”

Her response was typical of many attitudes today. In essence, she stated that if the boy feels like a girl, the other girls should respect that and accept this boy’s feeling and not go against such a policy.

Moving on to the steps to policy making, I used the real example of my county’s school peanut allergy policy. As we went through the steps of how an idea becomes a policy and in turn becomes a regulation or law, I used the Superintendent’s decision to implement a “no-peanut” policy within all county schools. This policy included no eating in the classes, no vending machines outside the cafeteria, and the removal of all peanut related items in the vending machines, and letters and phone calls to parents that students should not bring to school any food made from peanuts, tree nuts or any non-nut food made in facilities that also make food using nuts or oils made from nuts.

This policy is the result of one high school student who has a nut allergy. Without dismissing the severity of nut allergies, I asked the students thoughts on this policy. The students, most dual-enrolled and thus quite familiar with the policy, had different views ranging from accepting to rejecting of the policy.

The same young female student who stated other female students should accept a male student into the female locker room or bathroom because he feels like a girl stated it was wrong to ban all nut related products from an entire student body for one student, and that it was wrong to require parents to determine if lunches they pack their students contain nut-related ingredients. Her position was that the whole should not have to be “punished” for the one.

I asked, “Could not the same standard be applied to the transgender student?”

A startled look came upon her face and then the light started to glow in her mind as she replied, “Good point.”

As is often the case, she had a standard for one thing, and a different standard for another, but the two were not so different in terms of policy making and when she discovered this reality, I could tell the thought process had begun.

There were many other conversations we participated in and with each subject, the questions I asked were designed to elicit critical thinking and to have the students take their position to its logical conclusion.

So back to the “My Body, My Choice” post. It was designed to elicit critical thinking in the minds of  whoever chooses to read the post.

 

 

 

 

My Body, My Choice… Right?

The argument most often invoked for the continuing of abortions is that it’s a woman choice to do with her body as she chooses, and the government should not interfere with a decision that is hers and hers alone, and her doctor, so we’re told.

This argument is rife with flaws though, because as laws dictate, it’s really not my body after all.

If my body was my body to do with as I choose, then why would I be involuntarily admitted to a mental institution for evaluation if I exhibited behavior that proved harmful to me?

For example, I no longer find my right hand convenient and no longer desire to have the use of my right hand; after all, I’m left handed, so do I really need my right hand?

I choose to cut off my right hand. I’ve not harmed any other person; I’ve not caused a panic among society; I’ve merely decided my right hand is no longer of use to me and I wished to rid myself of this appendage.

Under the Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act, I would be involuntarily admitted to a mental institution for evaluation to determine if I am of sound mind. I could be held up to 72 hours before a judge determines the next course of action, unless the doctor determines I am fit to be released or should be kept for a longer stay pending more evaluations and treatment.

So am I really in control of my body?

Let’s propose for a moment that I wish to smoke marijuana in the comfort of my home. I do not drive while “high” and I don’t sell to anyone, I merely enjoy lighting up a joint after a long day. According to Florida law and federal law, I can be arrested and incarcerated for using an “illegal” substance. A substance I am choosing to put only in my body. I’m not hurting anyone else; it’s my choice, right?

So am I really in control of my body?

The answer to the two examples is a resounding no, I am not in control of my body after all.

So let’s apply this same standard to the argument for abortions. The argument that states it’s my body and I can do with it what I choose. The fact is it is not my body I am choosing to do with what I want; it is a separate body within my own. So I am not choosing to do with my body what I want; I am choosing to remove another body from my own.

In any other instance, outside the womb of course, this would be called murder.

Disclaimer: The examples used in this blog are examples only; I do not use any illegal substance and I will not be removing any body parts.

Symbols matter… or so they say

Now that the New Orleans City Council has voted to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, with the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, it is time these leaders ask themselves if the same standard will be applied to other institutions.

As reported in the Louisiana Weekly, during the meeting held to discuss removing the statues of Lee and Jefferson, it was stated that the time has come to remove the symbols of hate and slavery. On that note, the meeting ended with activist Pat Bryant leading the audience in a rendition of “Oh Freedom,” with his final words being, “And before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave.”

According to http://www.nola.com, Mayor Landrieu stated “Symbols really do matter. Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.”

Located at 2701 General Pershing St is the Women’s Health Care Center which provides, “Expert, Confidential and Respectful abortion care.”

What’s respectful about a medical procedure that ends the live of a baby in utero, I don’t know.

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States was founded by Margaret Sanger, a symbol of birth control and abortion.
Will these institutions, or symbols, likewise be removed in New Orleans or Louisiana?

If Mr. Byrant and Mayor Landrieu applied these same principles to other institutions, they would begin their fight to end every abortion that eradicates the lives of Black babies.

In 2010, Black Americans accounted for 12.6% of the U.S. population, yet Black American women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions; four times the number of abortions for white women. More Planned Parenthood or abortion clinics exist in low-income Black neighborhoods than any other group of American neighborhoods. Why is this? Why do leaders such as Mr. Byrant and the New Orleans City Council and the Mayor turn a blind eye to a monstrosity that is far greater than two statues? Why not is the Black community in an uproar over the slaughter of their babies while those infants are in their most helpless state, in utero?

Margaret Sanger, a white woman and the founder of Planned Parenthood envisioned birth control and legalized abortion as means to eliminate society’s unwanted: the poor, the illiterate, the minority, i.e. Black child. Her ideas were framed as a way to help women plan their families and to discard those children who didn’t quite fit into that narrative or plan.

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race,” Sanger wrote in 1922.

What was she speaking of when she wrote and spoke of a “cleaner race?” It surely wasn’t in reference to the elite and rich white members of society. Again, it was her definition of undesirables she wanted applied to society: the poor, the illiterate, the Black child; as if these qualities meant the poor person, the illiterate person, the Black person was of lesser value than her white counterparts.

In a letter to Dr. Gamble, she wrote that Black pastors should be recruited to help educate Black women about birth control and abortion, but they needed to be careful to not allow their true intent to be known.

“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”

It’s been argued that Sanger wasn’t speaking of exterminating Black children but rather offering birth control to Black women and that they (Sanger and company) would be accused of doing exactly what she stated should not get out. It might be a credible argument if it weren’t for the fact that she also said,

“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

While history is set to be removed from New Orleans under the guise of not having statues (“symbols”) that depict “racist” individuals such as Lee and Jackson, the silence is deafening as Black babies are killed in utero.

Why this silence of the biggest killer of Black children?

President Barack Obama is on record as being one of the staunchest supporters for abortions, even late term abortions. He voted against a Born Alive Act while in the Illinois Senate that would require doctors to provide medical care to babies who survive an abortion because it would be too inconvenient for the doctor.

Does he know the history of this “evil” he supports? Or does he just not care?

Why do other prominent Black leaders, elected or otherwise, not decry the slaughter that is happening to their very own? Why is a statue of Robert E. Lee more offensive than the killing of thousands of Black babies? Why are people more concerned with perceived past visages of racism than they are about the overt racism that exists in their very neighborhoods?

Cup of Joe

My day begins early and always with a cup of coffee, usually accompanied with the news. I know, the latter is not always (or usually) the best way to start the day because sometimes the news is so distressing, it’s enough to spark the desire to start the day with a glass of wine instead of coffee… and of course, that’s never a good thing.

Which brings me to this morning… and Joe Scarborough. Good ole Joe used to be a U.S. Representative for Northwest Florida and now has his own morning show… praise be, there’s life after politics after all. Why news channels continually flock to has-been politicians to lead “news” shows is an idea I will never understand, but alas, here we are… news anchors replaced with personalities, which brings me to this morning… again.

Sitting in my Northwest Florida home with my cup of coffee, watching Joe interview Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate. After a somewhat coherent interview, Joe asks Mike Huckabee the following, verbatim:

“Can you do me a favor right now? Cause I’m a Republican and I like to win elections and you win elections by getting people to vote for your party. Can you do something right now, and, and say something nice about Muslim-Americans right now, ah, who are pursuing the American Dream that are law abiding and let them know you want them in our Republican Party, ah, every bit as much as you want Southern Baptist from Northwest Florida in the Republican Party?”

What?! I almost snorted coffee through my nose at the question, but it wasn’t over. Huckabee begins an answer, “Absolutely. Look…” was all he got before Joe cut in with, “Cause I’m so worried that I hear some of the other Republican candidates saying things, acting as it Muslim-Americans are others, are not of one us. They are our brothers and sisters, are they not?”

So now my coffee is through my nose and on my shirt.

Ah, no they are not our brother and sisters. First, let’s just get rid of this whole hyphenated American crap. Either one is an American or they are not… period. There are no hyphenated Americans.

Second, why is the onus on a presidential candidate to say something nice about Muslims? Why is not the onus put on Muslims, American or otherwise, to say something nice about America. The country that affords them to practice the religion of their choice?

Third, why is the implication that non-Muslim Americans have a problem with Muslim Americans. I am not Muslim and I do not have a problem with Muslims, but apparently, there are many Muslims who have a problem with me. I don’t dress, speak or act in accordance with the Koran, and that, to them, is a huge problem. Yes, yes, many Muslims are “peaceful” but until I see the masses of “peaceful” Muslims rise up in opposition to the “radical” or “extremist” Muslims who, according to many, twist the religion, I do not really want to be lectured to about saying something nice about Muslim-Americans.

Now of course, Joe wasn’t directing the question to me personally, but he might as well have been because that’s the implication from him and all his fellow-talking heads, as well as the President and his administration. They all seem to fall over themselves, clamoring to say how much we need to respect Islam and its “peaceful” tenants, while watching Christians’ heads rolling off their shoulders in the Middle East or Americans gunned downed in America. Really? This is the priority?

Seventy four years ago today, we were attacked. President Roosevelt didn’t mince words. The media didn’t mince words. We were attacked and we responded in full force. It may have taken a few months, but on April 18, 1942, Tokyo felt the full wrath of America. Sixteen B-25 bombers took off from the USS Hornet with the mission to drop bombs on Tokyo and other Japan assets. While it didn’t stop the war, it sent a message to Japan that they were not untouchable and we would respond in full force; civilians, military, industry, no one was out of reach of the American military when provoked.

And so today, as I watched and listened to Joe ask such an absurd question, and then listened to the President’s address from the night before, I realized we are doomed to lose this war because we have an administration and media that are more concerned with how Muslims feel than responding in full force to eviscerate the enemy. An enemy who has proclaimed they will see their flag fly over the White House.

 

Chocolate

As Christmas fast approaches, I am filled with complete motivation to bake with chocolate as the main ingredient… but not just any chocolate, dark chocolate.

In honor of all the delectable dark chocolate desserts I will be baking in the upcoming weeks, here is my ode to dark chocolate.

Life… It begins with a burst, a cry, a smile, laughter, hugs, kisses and tears.

The journey of life is often long, sometimes short; it is mountainous, with many valleys; there are sunrises and sunsets; thunderstorms bursting with thun­der, skies brightened with lightning.

The rare quiet moments, when stillness engulfs the soul and calm fills the spirit; there are obstreperous moments when chaos rules.There is love; there is hate. Life is bitter; life is sweet.

That first bite of dark chocolate is like the first breath of life: bitter… sweet. Just as pain precedes the joy that life brings, the bitterness of that first taste of dark chocolate precedes the sweetness that lingers long after it is gone.

Dark chocolate embodies life – with each bite, the bitter-sweet that is life is present and as it dissolves into memories, so too does life’s fleeting moments.

Dark chocolate evinces what life can be: goodness. Within dark chocolate’s composition, there are those phenomenal antioxidants that erase free radicals, those destructive molecules that can cause heart disease and other ailments.These antioxidants do for the body what a spring beach sunset does for the soul.

While milk chocolate or white chocolate may soothe for an hour or even a day, it is dark chocolate that goes the distance and provides benefits long after that last bitter-sweet taste. Like life, it has staying power.

 

Christ

During my door-to-door phase of campaigning last year, I met a man. We spoke at length about many things and over the last year, have struck up a friendship. During our initial conversation, I mentioned my belief in Christ. This man scoffed at the idea of Christ because bad things happen. I agreed bad things do indeed happen, but based on my experience God is real and without the loving grace of my heavenly Father and Christ, who willingly left His heavenly home, to build a bridge I could cross to my heavenly Father, I would not be here and neither would my children.

We have had several conversations, through text, that have centered on Christianity and Christ. He usually is the one who initiates these conversations. Today I received a text from him which resulted in a “conversation” between him and me. He began by discussing the shooting in California, but as usually the case, came to God. So here is how it goes with my friend as D. and I as Y.

D: Our 355th mass shooting this year. Insane maybe? These incidences are anything but senseless. The individual is largely determined by wider mores. The offenders simply are acting out what they now see as acceptable ways of dealing with their social frustrations. You see it, the unmooring of the individual from normative social values, in the parsings of explanations for Trump’s continued hold on the Republican base. The power brokers have used every wedge issue to fill their political ranks. The party line is that society no longer works for them, is against them. Now their creations are acting for themselves. A house built on hate, distrust, fear, cannot hold. The melting pot is now a violent mixed salad. There is no way to put humpty back together again, more are going (to) die because at its core, the core of human psychology, is fear. Fear rationalized as freedom. Fear rationalized as cultural virtue. Our red state nativists have unleashed, have sacrificed the most base of our impulses. Let the games begin.

Y: And yet guns will be blamed because it’s easier to blame the tool than the person using the tool because that would require reflecting on what the past three/four generations have put (out). The “hate establishment” people from the 60s went into educational, mental health, political institutions. And here we are…

D: You gotta have a gun to have a shooting. Most were legally purchased, and used by many persons who have not been deemed unfit for ownership (thank you NRA, Bush boys) so…

Right wingnuts share the same core values as the extremists, e.g. women are second class citizens and property, homosexuals deserve death, the Earth is your toilet, knee-jerk violence is the answer to all debates/problems and the invisible man in the sky supersedes all logic or scientific facts. We are at war with ourselves.

Y: Ok. Pretty sure their apartment was filled with explosives and bomb making materials. How does ones explain Chicago? A city that has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. It’s deeper than that, i.e. gun ownership/laws,

D: Again, you can’t shoot someone without a gun. Gun laws are like drug laws or driving laws, or tax laws, or sex laws – laughable to the people who want to do us harm. The only people who should have guns are the cops and military. This outdated second amendment bullshit was valid at a time when this nation was beginning, and militias were our only defense (no army, navy, air force or marines)

Y: How does an individual defend himself or protect his other rights, e.g. Third Amendment, without the second amendment? You are right: a person cannot “shoot” without a gun but why is it no one asks why society has broken down to the point that a person feels killing others is the only answer? Again, it’s easier to blame guns because it requires no self reflection. And do we really want to live in a country where the only one with guns is the government? I don’t. We are already witnessing an over militarized federal govn. EPA? IRS? Ag Dept? Do they really need guns? No, but they have their own armed units. As for freedom, it only works when there is personal (individual) responsibility. We are seeing everything but that in society.

D: We, as a nation, have for too long embraced violence, greed, anger, to the point to where the right has not only ignored but actually condoned and encouraged murder (abortion clinics, homosexuals at random, etc) in the name of the most violent and cruelest book ever written, the Bible. Fact. Now it’s their turn, apparently. Btw, where do you think the Bible was written? (For all the hilariously ignorant “Shariah Law” commentators)

Y: (Ah, here it is, I think to myself, as it seems to always come to this.) So it’s the Bible’s fault?

D: The very reason the world is, and will remain, at ideological war.

Y: So the world will remain at an ideological and mechanical war because of the Bible?

D: Well, that’s where it all began. “My god is better than your god, and is the only true god,” says EVERYONE! All about control, power, the taking of land and its resources, including human beings (remember slavery, the native Americans, the Gulf “War”) all the while espousing virtues of liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Makes me laugh, then cry.

Y: Ghangas Khan, Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, NK Prime Minister, Castro, Nero – these are all examples of men who rejected the Bible on every level yet they are some of the cruelest men who unleashed pure evil on people.

D: Christians still have them beat, combined. Fact.

Y: (Again I think, here we are, the heart of the matter) History is brimming over with examples of depravity that have nothing to do with the Bible. The Bible we have today wasn’t in existence when Egypt enslaved thousands or Babylon conquered Jerusalem and murdered and enslaved thousands. The Mayan kings didn’t know of the Bible when they used the heads of enemies to play ball.

D: By the way, Hitler was a Christian and a Catholic. Fact.

Y: No, he wasn’t. He rejected Christianity, banned Bible and imprisoned/killed pastors who spoke the Bible and against him.

D: YES HE WAS. I HAVE EVERYTHING EVER WRITTEN ON HIM AND HIS WRITINGS.

Y: He declared Nazism the state religion and had (the) Bible replaced with Mein Kempf. Paying lip service to Christianity is not the same thing as being a Christian. (Name), your battle is not with me.

D: Remember the Crusades? Well, the Muslims haven’t. And that stupendously offensive song all the inbreds teach their children to sing, so gleefully, “Onward Christian Soldiers”? Guess what that song is about –

Y: (Name), your battle isn’t with me. I’m not going to argue with you. It seems you have fixated on Christianity to the exclusion of everything else. I consider you my friend and I get why you choose me to let loose your disgust, or think so anyway, but Christ is not the things you say. People, or the human heart is a dark place without the love of Christ. People have used all types of props to include the Bible to justify their actions. However, Christ came to save, His love does change hearts.

D: “My Struggle” was written about his real (and imagine) battle with all controlling jews, the very reason we were attacked on 9/11 (Bin Laden’s own words) I’m not anti-semitic, btw, and no my battle isn’t with you, my friend.

And there it is and always seems to come to – an internal struggle with accepting or rejecting the truth of Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him, might be saved.” John 3:16-17

Christ does not barge through the door of the heart; He stands at the door and softly knocks. It is up to each person to open the door and let Him in or to remain locked inside, never knowing the freedom, the love, the grace, the salvation, that comes by letting in Christ.

 

 

“I’m not signing that **** thing!”

I have chosen to write about party politics for my first post because it is something I have been spending a lot of time pondering these last few months.

Before I begin, I must write, in full disclosure, that I am a registered Republican. So… for those who wish to stop reading now because of that, I would challenge you to read on… as you might just find yourself pondering party politics as well.

This past year, I ran for county commissioner. For those who do not know the process, in Florida, a candidate can pay a filing fee or get a set number of petitions signed. The petition method is one many candidate choose; it requires a registered voter in the district or area to print their name, enter their date of birth or voter registration number, address, signature and date. It is nonpartisan as the only requirement is the person completing the petition be a registered voter in the district or area – in my case, it was Santa Rosa County.

So away I went, attending events and going door-to-door to get petitions signed.

One Saturday morning, I walked a small neighborhood and came to a nice house. Before I could push the door bell, a man of about 55 answered the door. This startled me and the man laughed when he saw my expression.

“I saw you walk up,” he said.

I thought this was a good start since he seemed to be in a good mood. I laughed and began my introduction.

“Hi, my name is Yvonne Harper and I’m running for District 4 County Commissioner and if you are a registered voter, would you sign a petition for me. It’s doesn’t mean you will vote for me, only that my name can be put on the ballot.”

“Are you a Republican?” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“You’re a liar!” he harshly said.

At that moment I was taken aback because we had never met. I knew nothing of him and he knew nothing of me, yet there he stood, calling me a liar.

“No, I’m not,” I offered.

“You’re a Republican and you’re all liars,” he shot back.

“Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I do not lie,” said I.

This did not nothing to assuage his passion and he stated, with conviction, that the most liberal person ever wrote the Constitution. I could tell this conversation was going to get interesting and as I love discussing America’s Founding Fathers, I thought that maybe there was hope for this conversation and the dialogue would be one of exchanging ideas. I replied, “And who would that be?”

“James Madison,” he said, as if I was the biggest idiot on the planet.

I can never resist correcting people who think this, so I calmly stated, “James Madison did not write the Constitution as there were 55 men at the Constitutional Convention. He drafted it because he was the Secretary and kept impeccable notes. However, he wasn’t the only one with input. Also, Gouverneur Morris wrote the preamble.”

“No! James Madison wrote it and he was a liberal!,” he said.

Trying to get on the same page, I asked him to explain what he meant by “liberal” and he replied that Madison favored a big federal government.

“Well, actually, according to the Federalist Papers, of which he wrote many, (“I know, I’ve read them,” he interjected) then you know while he favored a stronger federal government, he believed it should be limited in scope and nature and that it would rely on the people, not that the people would rely on the government. And this is what I believe. I believe government should be limited and first and foremost exists to protect our liberties.”

To this he replied that I didn’t know what I was talking about and then he began a tirade about how evil Republicans are and how corrupt they are in Washington. I attempted to tell him that as county commissioner, I would not be responsible for federal law and that is as far as I got, because at that point, my husband walked up and he spat out,

“I’m not signing that damn thing!”

With that he walked into his house and slammed the door.

Well, so much for that, I thought.

Now before you get too upset, it must be noted that there were many people whose first question was, “Are you a Republican? Because if you’re not, I’m not signing it.”

Over the months, leading up to the Primary, I was blessed to meet many wonderful people, but sadly, many considered my party affiliation over more important matters, such as the kind of person I am, what I believed or what I thought was important for the county.

After the primary, I found that I could not support the winner. For those who do not know, Florida has a closed primary system, meaning only registered Republicans could vote for the six Republican candidates. Now if anyone other than the the winner had won, I could’ve supported the candidate, but I couldn’t not support the winner. The reasons at this point are not relevant.

Well, because I believe in standing for what is right and supporting the best candidate, I supported the Libertarian candidate for the General Election. Again, another conversation took place that left me wondering just what country I lived in.

At a Republican meeting, I was told by a woman, “If you can’t vote for the Republican candidate, then don’t vote.”

Not sure if I correctly heard her, I asked, “So what you’re telling me is that if I can’t vote for the Republican, I should not vote at all?”

“Yes,” she said, without the slightest hesitation.

I stood there, stunned into silence – which at that time was a good thing – that I would be told not to vote if I couldn’t vote “Republican.” It didn’t matter that the Libertarian candidate was ethical and had  a history of working hard and holding local government officials accountable – all that matter was she wasn’t a Republican.

Fast forward to election day. As I stood outside one of the polls supporting another candidate, several voters came out and asked me about the candidate whose shirt I wore.

Having to remind myself that I was representing this great candidate, I told them about her. In my head I was thinking, “What?!? Are you kidding?!? You just voted – what difference does it make now?”

However, I kept it professional and after telling the person about the candidate, I asked, “So who did you vote for?”

“I don’t know, I voted straight Republican.”

Wow!!! In other words, the voters who said this didn’t know who they voted for, they merely looked at party affiliation and voted accordingly. Now, before you think, “Yeah, just like a Republican,” unfortunately this happens in both parties. The one deciding factor when it comes to voting for a person, the one that tops all others, is party affiliation.

My next post will attempt to explain why this way of voting is bad for our country, but for now, I will leave you with words from a man who understood human nature and warned against dividing ourselves into party.

“Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally…

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; And sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it…

It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection…

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.”

– George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

Until next post… happy thinking.