It was the morning after the birthday party for my 5-year-old twins and their first full day to play with the toys they had not had time to take out of the packages.
I pulled off the plastic of the Sunday morning paper and there before me was the headline no veteran wants to see: "The U.S. Suffers Its Bloodiest Day."
My children's excitement kept me from reading the story through but the headline stuck with me throughout the morning. A slow rise of anger and frustration about how my long-held beliefs were not being honored by the people elected to honor them started bubbling to the surface.
I have been a Republican my whole life and beliefs of liberty, small government, reverence for the Constitution and a fiscal discipline are typical among people who think like I do. But the politicians who said they believed in these concepts are nowhere to be seen. Above all, President Bush, who ran on the platform of "Not Believing in Nation Building," is currently building two, and no Republican seems to care.
We are in the midst of a media blitz that will last until the next election, and this Republican has some questions he would like answered.
I've been a Republican my whole life but when you pass a so-called Patriot Act that authorizes the government to hold American citizens suspected of terrorist acts in confinement, indefinitely, without legal representation ... how is this patriotic ... how does it ensure freedom and liberty ... how does this display reverence for the Constitution?
I've been a Republican my whole life but when the only thing you change about our airport security screeners is who pays their salary, how does this make us safer and how does this relate to our belief in smaller government?
I've been a Republican my whole life and I have heard radio commentators talk about how "those who are willing to trade liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." Well, if this is so true when speaking of gun control, how is it so untrue when pushing our need for the Patriot Act and racial profiling?
I am an American, a veteran, the son of an immigrant and a former small business owner turned schoolteacher. Most recently, I think of myself as a father, and fatherhood has changed a few things about my thinking -- and not all of the changes make me proud.
I initially supported the war in Iraq, but now I must admit that if it were my son killed in that helicopter crash, patriotism is not the only feeling that I would be experiencing. The wars we have fought lately have not instilled in me a belief that these people are dying for their country as much as for their president's agenda -- and I wonder why I am so willing to support a war that is justifiable enough to risk the lives of other people's children, but nowhere near justifiable enough to risk the lives of my own.
You see, in addition to the 5-year-old twins, I have a 16-year-old stepson still asleep in his room. Would his death in a war like this leave me feeling patriotic or just angry? Call me unpatriotic, un-Republican or even un-American, but I can't find many things about this war that would validate in me the loss of my child.
I remember the Kosovo war and the frustration Republicans felt when we exposed thousands of soldiers to danger with no exit strategy. Though I don't think it would be smart to leave Iraq before we are finished, I would like to know if someone I voted for has any idea when we will be finished.
I've been a Republican my whole life. When it comes to the issues, Democrats still don't represent my beliefs, for the most part. I am used to that, but I'm not used to the Republicans also failing to represent my beliefs.
What do you do, when faced with a ballot, and nobody on it represents you? Still, we wonder why 50 percent of us never vote.
I've been a Republican my whole life...
Daniel Lee is a middle-school teacher and driving instructor for the Monroe School District. He also served in the Washington Army National Guard.
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