I did it. I voted on Tuesday [in the Pennsylvania primaries]. And of course, like 98% of the rest of Facebook addicts, I posted about it on my Facebook profile. And of course, like the proud Republican I am, I put it out there. Eventually, I put it out there who I was supporting in my vote because I don’t really want any part of the blame come November. And eventually, as expected, the questions came about how did I make a decision this primary and why would I be a Republican.
You know. Because there is no way an ex-teacher, a mom who used to be a single mom, a woman who has been abused, a woman who went to a women’s college, a woman who is the primary breadwinner, or a woman or human in general should be a Republican. Because they are awful and all that, right?
Well, those reasons are all supported in my values and beliefs and somehow, some way align with the Republican party. Shocker? Not to me.
You see, I am a fourth generation (ex-Allegheny County) Republican woman. Nope, my mom didn’t brainwash me to be a red-card carrying lady. Neither did her mom or my great-grandma. We are just proud women who can also be Republicans…and women who know that 95% of the time, the choice of [our] red versus [everyone else’s] blue doesn’t matter.
Because we are the women who love without blinders. We have family members who are single parents, LGBT, atheists, and march to the beat of their own drum but we love them for being themselves and don’t judge like we’ve been judged for being Republican women. We raise[d] our children to do the same. We fight for feminism and have done the “dirty work” of playing the gender card and being the breadwinner (between us four: a restaurant owner, a Rosie-the-Riveter, a Westinghouse computer builder, and an IT Geek) at some point in our lives. But this isn’t about my mom, grandma, or great-grandma. It’s about me.
Guess what, kids?
Mommy’s a Republican.
Mommy’s a Republican because she can be. Because this country was founded on freedoms, on rights and standing up for your beliefs.
Haven’t I had a hundred reasons to make that R on my vote stub a D? Of course. But because deep down I know what I believe, I still (and maybe more than ever as I age), believe it.
I used to be a teacher. Don’t I care about kids’ education? There’s always going to be something parents hate about the way kids are taught, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Kids are taught these days on concepts that we parents may never get, but what matters is that the kids get it. I survived teaching in the NCLB days. Well, kinda. I did walk out on my 2nd grade classroom of 20 kids who were of varying levels of abilities (from a pre-k to a 5th grade level reader) mid-year, but that’s based on my next point. Were there tests and things that made it tough? SURE. But guess what? I still am tested, we all are, in our day to day lives on how well we’re doing. So a kid doesn’t pass his first round of MAP testing. We’ll figure out exactly what he needs and help him get better. Big deal. It’s what I got paid to do. Education is a chance for every child and is much more than what happens in the classroom.
I was a single mom who was faced with the choice of abortion, adoption, or keeping my baby. That child was the result of my abusive relationship, so why would I align with a party that “allows” men to be aggressive and abusive and get away with rape and violence? Oh, there is so much to be said about this one. Let me take a breath.
I don’t know that I’ve talked about my choice when I first found out I was pregnant, but at 24, I had to make that choice. I did it (almost) all by myself, with my big girl pants on. Over sharing a pack of Ramen noodles because we were so stinkin’ broke, my roommate (a Democrat, mind you) looked up the cost of my first prenatal visit versus the cost of an abortion and she and I immediately need the right choice was to keep this baby. God, I am so freaking glad I did. That ‘lil girl challenges me, but let me tell you, she’s a precious gift. Up until that night in February of 2008, I was pro-life. Now the fact that I’ve even remotely considered it, I guess I have to be pro-choice but gosh dangit as a mom of four precious, amazing babies who I’ve loved from (almost) the moment I saw two pink lines…I can’t even. It takes me back to my days alongside the road with my (GASP!) Democrat Dad with pro-life signs, standing beside my cousin and a friend, both who soon after became teen moms and are both amazing moms to their kids thank you.
And about that guy. Well, you see, I was scared out of my mind and decided not to press charges and that is on me. But justice for all means that women who face what I did don’t have to be scared. The Republican Party stands for the reduction of crimes and protection of the weak and vulnerable. And the thing is? These people guilty of crimes can change. I’ve heard that guy has changed and good for him. It doesn’t mean I don’t live with and take to God every single day the pain and hurt of what happened to me, but it helps. I would love to see solid proof where my party actually glorifies rapists, predators, and abusers, please. But maybe not on my blog wall ‘cause someday this will be for my kids. I know – I started it!
But didn’t going to Chatham change you? Didn’t you have every women’s college attendee’s experience and become a feminist? Nope. I didn’t go to that school because of it being a women’s college (and it no longer is). I didn’t become a feminist there, I was already one before. I grew up believing in my right to be an independent woman and to have my own thoughts. Boys were constantly getting picked ahead of me for everything and it made me so mad, but I made sure to prove why the choice wasn’t right. Did it change me? Sure. I grew up in small town America, never really meeting or getting to know anyone who was “different” on a deep level. But I wasn’t shocked to be thrown into the heart of it in college. It didn’t change me or make me resent my party. It made me fall deeper in love with my value of self-reliance.
But you’re married to a man who stays home with the kids and you bring home all the bacon. Yup. I am and I do. Because family is what is really important to me. Greg and I might not see eye to eye on our values or political party (in fact, if he reads this post, we may not speak for an hour or two). But I have a fiscal responsibility to my family and my country and I think we all have that. Greg would be working too if not for the twins needing full-time care and us not having horrible experiences with daycare in the past. That’s our choice, and we do what we do because it gets us by as a family.
Honestly, we give a lot. We give to missions, and church, and societies like United Way, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society because we can. But we also give a lot in taxes to families who don’t have what we do. I really struggle with this one because I frankly work my butt off and know that almost 15% of what I am working for doesn’t buy food for my kids or pay for the mounting medical bills that I have since “affordable care” came into play. It’s going to families who may not be able to work (and I’m glad to help them) and others who are totally able but don’t (and trust me, this isn’t just some Republican rhetoric here – I know people who had great lives / jobs and then wouldn’t take a job at a retail store or restaurant because it was beneath them and collecting unemployment then welfare was a better option). I’m sorry, but maybe I am not. We covered the fact that I give to those in need, and I pray for them. I genuinely wish life could be better for about 85% of the people getting my measly 15%, but it’s the other 15% that make me wish for a little bit of a break. There’s a culture there, and it’s time we turn that around as a country and raise these families up out of the darkness of poverty.
But I do have a responsibility to my country. To ensure my leaders, both Republican and Democrat, are paid to lead us. To ensure the roads I drive on are maintained. To pay for the schools my children go to. I shouldn’t accept all these things as my given right as someone who lives on this ground. My ancestors could have stayed in Germany, England, Ireland, or Scotland and I’d never known what these freedoms were like. Or, my parents could have moved to Canada and I’d be dealing with “free” healthcare, 15-18% tax on EVERYTHING plus my salary, and wait 7 hours in an emergency room pregnant with a kidney infection while kids with toe scrapes and big hairy men with hangnails got “fixed” only to be told they couldn’t see me because I was an American and they can’t assist pregnant women who aren’t Canadian. (Though don’t get me wrong – this system does have its benefits – it just didn’t seem so awesome to me when I tried to get help.)
Aren’t you human? I know that last point kind of escalated, but yes, I am human. And that’s the beautiful thing. I am human because of a God who loves me and has blessed me so, so, so very much to have the life I do. I’m thankful every day for this. It really boils down, for me, to God and country. I am so proud to be an American, especially a Christian in America. Don’t think we aren’t persecuted. “Oh, you go to church, you can’t come hang out with us at happy hour” might be mild compared to what others go through, but I’ll leave my personal struggles with things I’ve heard growing up a pastor’s kid and trying to find just the right church for another day. Yeah, you can probably say I carry a white privilege card. I just try to live ethically and with love to all around me. My relationship with God, the one who gave us these rights, is what keeps me calm and allows me to muster up the strength to fight the battles that I have, too. We all have them. And we should all just love one another.
Regardless of that R or D. But for now, that’s where I stand. And I hope my kids all make their own informed decisions, just like I have.
Oh, election years. Giving me blog fodder since my first vote in 2004. Chatham College Republicans, how I miss thee.