Updated: May 3, 2020
I voted for Obama twice, but in the 2016 election I chose not to vote Democrat. This is my #WalkAway story.
For context, let me just tell you that I am a Jesus loving Christian, as well as a disabled Combat Infantry Veteran, and a fervent 2A supporter, with common sense gun legislation. I hold a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Occupational Safety Law, received several high level certifications and awards in the field, work for a non-profit organization that advocates and hires people with disabilities, and I believe strongly in LGBTQ rights. I have vacationed, visited or worked in all 50 states and, 11 countries to include Puerto Rico, Greece, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. I don't think Trump works for the Russians, or that Obama was born in Kenya, and definitely believe our criminal justice system needs to be reformed, but have a deep and profound love and respect for our police officers. I have no idea who John Galt is, the color of the dress is blue/black, I believe the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42, and lastly, it's pronounced yanny.
Why do I tell you all of this? It's because I think people are way more interesting and unique than their respective political parties give them credit for.
Our beliefs and decisions are based on an amalgamation of life experiences, and the convictions we have are depreciated when we try to place it in a box that broadly describes a political affiliation. Explained a different way, imagine if our two party systems were pieces of clothing, instead of being Democrat or Republican, suppose we had the Pants (P) and Shirts (S) Party.
Notwithstanding the basic and obvious differences between shirts and pants, there are endless ways in which the individual members of each party can accessorize with either piece of clothing, but one thing is certain, it is forbidden to be "fully clothed" and have both a Shirt and Pants on simultaneously. If this scenario sounds silly, it's supposed to, but that's exactly what we have been doing to ourselves with our political system.
We say we want capitalism and free enterprise as it pertains to our economy, but do we want the same when it comes to viewpoint diversity? I'd argue that our political affiliations, to use an economic framework, are more of a command economy. What is a 'Command Economy'? A command economy is a system where the government, rather than the free market, determines what goods [or thoughts] should be produced, how much should be produced and the price at which the goods [or thoughts] are offered for sale.
An exercise in free enterprise thinking ostensibly would compete ideas against each other with consideration of the uniqueness of the person making the argument, not the party. I think if we are comfortable retreating to our respective political parties because it feels safe being in a community of people that share similar beliefs that's okay. As humans, we need community. That said, it's important to recognize when people get together in groups, unusual things can happen -- both good and bad. Groups create important social institutions that an individual could not achieve alone, but there can be a darker side to such alliances: Belonging to a group makes people more likely to harm others outside the group.
People from the same group have more or less equivalent realities and mindsets. Their values, assumptions, and procedures become part of "common sense" for them. However, when two parties that do not share norms of communication [customary patterns and rules of communication] and expectations about behavior must interact, they often clash. Each party may believe that its ways of doing things and thinking about things is the best way and come to regard other ways of thinking and acting as inferior, strange, or morally wrong. This is why my #WalkAway story is not one of joining another group, but walking away from all political parties and taking back what has been lost for years, my personal identity, values, beliefs, and opinions.