I just can't do it anymore. Not after that inauguration speech. Not after that reaction by the so-called Republican moderates. Not after that first month. I have bailed. I put in my application to do volunteer work for the other side soon after and was not struck by lightning as a result. My conscience is now clear and my pants are not on fire.
I no longer call myself a Republican: Rockefeller, Fiscally Conservative, or otherwise.
I grew up with Rockefeller Republicans. My grandfather ran Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election effort in Western Pennsylvania. The Rockefeller Republicans were “progressive” Republicans; today’s fiscal conservatives are a descendant of that brand. It was more of an identity than a real political movement. Frankly, we were very “liberal” conservatives who wanted social progress without shaking things up too fast. That caused the Civil War, according to lore, requiring many of our kind to head south and attempt reconstruction. It worked about as well as it did in Iraq.
In all honesty, I knew that going back into LGBTQI world might result in this action. The tea-bagger types in the party are quite nuts and wish to return this country to 1950. I had always thought that if the guano hit the fan for real, at least Soulmate and I would be on the right side this time, instead of hiding in the suburban closet. I really didn't expect all this though. Hillary was supposed to win…and my (our) transition was supposed to be relatively stress-free. Out and changed just got a wee bit scary…ok, really scary. Now we understand the fear that comes with openly aligning with The Tribe.
Those of us “lib-cons” who hail from White Anglo-Saxon Protestant backgrounds are not the only ones who think our culture and politics to be superior to everyone else's—we’re just the most open and friendly about it. We will do anything, and I do mean anything, to fight oppression and bigotry even at the cost of our own lives. It's a challenge, the right thing to do, crushes a stereotype, and makes us feel good all at the same time. We love surprising the bad guys and good guys both, for a culture steeped in knighthood and conquest does have its good side on occasion. That's how we roll.
Just don't tell us we actually have to identify with other groups. That concept freezes most of us in our tracks, and good social-climbing waspy types just don't do that. It's unseemly and smacks being considered minority-ish. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you! We just, ummmmm…
But I am no longer that. I have not identified in such manner for nearly thirty years now. And even back in the day, I primarily did so to please my family. I admit that the process of identifying as reasonably Jewish and coming out (again) has made its mark. I can no longer identify with the political culture of my childhood, just as I can no longer identify with my prior church denomination, my alma mater, and heterosexual America. I have successfully left all that and no longer feel longing or shame over it.
Our community’s shared blessing and fight for freedom over the prior three decades has changed me. I am now forced to look into the mirror each morning and see these breasts I have grown and contemplate the woman I am becoming.
I have not openly identified as any sort of female until very recently…and only because I have been made to understand that I need to own it, setting an example for my teenage daughter, who will grow up in the Trump era with all its potential for bigotry and misogyny. I cannot truthfully say that my fiscal conservatism will ever change though. It most likely won't, but no one may rightly assume that I was ever a shill for the conservative right anymore. I never was, and never could be.
I now take a real stand, the one Soulmate and many others took long before I got here. The opposition may soon identify me as one of those liberal-progressive lesbian types. Slightly inaccurate, but I really won't mind that…I mostly resemble that remark. I have always liked the so-called liberal progressives. I got married to one. Her character and passion for social justice has never failed to influence mine, no matter how hard I tried to run from it.
The Fiscal Conservatives still believe in the necessity of trying to counter the right-wing from within their own political movement. My life experiences have made it easy for me to take my exit, but this approach will not be as logical for other tortured political souls. Just as our own community attempts to welcome all family and allies, the progressives should be welcoming of those who just cannot identify with “that party” anymore, taking them in as-is and hoping for the best.
The rebirth of openly public bigotry and misogyny will make more than a few conservatives of all stripes think hard about where they stand. Some may gain the courage to leave as a result. I feel so much better for having done so.
Julie Chase is the pen name for a local 40-something trans woman. A graduate of The University of the South at Sewanee, she loves butterflies, strong women and the Austrian School of Economics. Graphic via CommonDreams