Confessions of a swing voter
I’m a Republican who sometimes votes for Democrats
I guess I’ve always been a swing voter. The first presidential election I could vote in was the 2000 race between Al Gore and George W. Bush. I was a sophomore at UW-Madison, hadn’t really thought about where I was on the political spectrum and so followed the liberal mob on campus and voted for Gore.
It wasn’t until September 11th that I realized that I needed to actually do the work to figure out if I was a Democrat or a Republican. After doing some research and talking with folks, I came down on the right for fiscal issues and to the left on most social issues. I grew up hunting and so had pretty strong feelings about second amendment rights and when it came to the first amendment I felt pretty strongly about protecting most speech. I became a big fan of President Bush and Rudy Giuliani after seeing how they handled the attacks and so I decided I was more center-right than center-left.
That, plus getting to know some of the folks at the Badger Herald (the conservative student newspaper at UW), set me on my path to work in Republican politics for the first eight years of my career. I never 100 percent agreed with any candidate or the party platform. I followed the Reagan rule where he said that “My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.”
I didn’t dream of voting for a Democrat again until Donald Trump came along. I just couldn’t vote for him. It was less about where he stood on the issues but more a question of basic human decency that I prioritized over all else. I didn’t like the idea of writing another Republican in because I generally feel voters should have to make the hard choices of choosing between the candidates their fellow citizens have put forth. So, in 2016, I voted for Hillary Clinton.
The years that followed have really made me think about if I can even call myself a Republican anymore. I don’t think my values changed, but the Party did. I remember on January 6th just watching everything and thinking about how much the Party had changed since I started working for it in 2003.
I want candidates who are going to be their own man or woman. I refused to vote for a candidate who was just going to do whatever Trump said. And so, I found myself voting for more Democrats than Republicans.
Then the time came a few weeks ago for me to fill out my absentee ballot for the Virginia gubernatorial race. I was honestly torn between McAullife and Youngkin. I did some research on both of them, was keeping up on the news, and decided I would watch the last debate to help make up my mind.
Youngkin impressed me. His positions on taxes, jobs, the economy, and education really resonated with me. I’m not wild on his positions around abortion and how critical race theory became a boogeyman. I disagree with his opposition to same-sex marriage but was ok with the fact that he said it was allowed by state law and he would support the law.
Moreover, Trump was nowhere to be found. If Youngkin had campaigned with him it very likely would have pushed me to McAulliffe.
But, McAulliffe just really turned me off in many ways. I really hate this tone of, “We know what’s best for you.” The deal was sealed when he said that parents shouldn’t be telling schools what to teach. What bothered me about this wasn’t critical race theory, but rather the thought that parents shouldn’t have any say in what their kids learn. I’m not a parent, but I do have nephews, and that was just mind-boggling to me. I also see McAulliffe as an extension of the Democrats in Washington and I have not been a fan of their track record this year.
So, I put my vote next to Glenn Youngkin. I’m a part of the 15 percent that swung back to the GOP.
I still don’t know what to call myself. I’m not a Democrat but I’m also not a fan of parts of the Republican Party. I do my best to understand where people are coming from across the spectrum and have honest debates about the issues. I’m proud of the fact that I’m friends with people of all political stripes. Because of this I no longer just vote for Republicans because it’s the party I most identify with. Instead, I’ve decided to just look at each candidate, who their opponent is, and make the best choice from there.
I’m a little nervous about putting this out into the wild, but I had a few friends ask me to do so because they thought it would be helpful for people to hear from folks who did swing. If anyone wants to talk about any issue or discuss this more please reach out! I love having conversations like that.
I’m going to be participating in two events tomorrow, Thursday, November 4, that I wanted to mention.
First, I’ll be joining the Bipartisan Policy Center at noon for an event titled, “One Year Out from the Midterms: Where Election Misinformation Stands.” Naomi Nix from Bloomberg will be moderating and I’ll be joined by Maurice Turner a Cybersecurity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and C. Murphy Hebert the Director of Communications for the Arizona Secretary of State.
Second, I’m doing a Clubhouse chat at 9pm Eastern with my fellow members of the Integrity Institute that I mentioned last week. It’s a chance for us to tell people more about the Institute and answer questions.
What I’m Reading
Facebook CIB Takedowns: I don’t link to all the take downs Facebook does, but this recent one in Nicaragua is a good example of how the company does do some things in smaller countries.
The first issue of the Journal of Online Trust and Safety is out!
The Verge: Social Media vs the World (I almost wrote about this today for the newsletter because I have so much to say about this piece, but I have some future plans around this topic where I think it’ll fit better.)