Cruzin’ to the Other Side

Zachary BynumIMG_8909

After bouts of food poisoning and intensive digestive problems during the Iowa Caucus, I finally was able to be optimistic about the New Hampshire Primary. One component that really made this difficult was the fact that I would have to cross political lines like many of my peers had done before and work on Ted Cruz’s campaign. So, here I am thinking wow, just spent half of Iowa throwing up, now I am going to New Hampshire to be morally compromised. I can honestly say that was not the case.

First, we as a group went to a Kasich town hall which was a little eye-opening. I had not heard a lot about Kasich and realized that he was a fairly moderate Republican. At the beginning of his town hall, he spoke of great things like working with those who we may not agree with or uplifting families in our current day society even if those families don’t look like our own. He also even boasted about his ability to balance the national debt by giving a great speech assisted with a visual debt tracker (it was stressful to look at). I mean, the rhetoric was just entrancing to hear from a Republican, so I was hooked. However, by the end of the town hall, it had devolved into nonsense with him using Ronald Reagan as some kind of centerpiece for things like racial justice and social mobility. I think that is my problem with conservative ideology. While volunteering for Cruz, Josh (a campaign organizer) said “Democrats are people who care about other people and Republicans are just pissed off at the government because we realize it can’t fix all of your problems.” Oh really Josh? Democrats care about people? I hope we aren’t referring to the historically discriminatory party that has backed slavery, struck down lynching laws, helped keep Jim Crow alive, and so forth. What I wanted to tell Josh is that the Democratic Party is actually just historically a less rigid party that has had many different divisions and seems to shift with the changing temperaments of the US. The face of U.S. is not just straight, old, middle-class white men anymore. It is changing and so are the politics. We don’t just have debates about class stratification, foreign policy, and economic problems. We have debates about the concept of justice for all, reforming capitalism, and representation. These are the kinds of things that I see Democrats handling more cautiously and carefully than Republicans. That is why when Josh asked me how I was a Republican with a very suspicious look, I burst out laughing. I would’ve told Josh that I have no choice. I have no choice, but to be support the left because the right does not have anything for me. I support the left because at least it gives an effort (sometimes futile) to validate the experience I have to offer. I look to the left because that is where the people who look like me stand. I look to the left because the ideology fits me more appropriately. And you know what? Maybe I do care about people Josh, but my question is why don’t you care about people as well? We were at a Christie town hall when once again I considered the idea of being able to yield to the idea of a moderate Republican. Personally, most of his policy he outlined was not something I agreed with, but he did make a very good point. He said that the reason he wanted to be a politician was because he loved to “read, write, and help people.” I saw that as a very powerful tool in appealing to the ethos of his audience, but mostly because it seemed pretty genuine. He spoke of loving his job because although he has not done it every day, he loves that he has the ability to change something every day. I am thinking about Josh’s statement right now and I realize, Republicans do care about people. They just care about their people, just like Democrats. That is why when we discuss things like socialism or taxing the upper class more, Republicans provide the biggest backlash because while everyone who is not a Republican is not also a millionaire or billionaire, they are just protecting their shared interest. This weekend has taught me a lot about the other side and I really appreciate that. I know more about its ideology, its politics, and more about the presidential race overall. As I say this, Christie will suspend his campaign later, and Cruz will push that he is the only real conservative on the Republican ballot and that we should all be “Cruzin’”for his victory. As I continue to question the strategy and policy of the right, I think I will be even more critical of side I stand on. I will continue to question whether or not Bernie’s lack of foreign policy is something that we should see as a permissible attribute. I will continue to question why minorities seem to overwhelmingly support Clinton when she lobbied for a crime bill that has disproportionately affected minorities. And on the other side, why do we not question Bernie’s support of that bill? As things unfold, I will continue to question because that is what is makes a person’s ideology stronger. However, despite all the personal revelations and moments of critical analysis, the beauty of it all is that as the New Hampshire primary closes, the race goes on.

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