Sixteen years ago I was 18 years old and rather well informed politically for a kid.  I like to think that I was on top of what was happening in the world and with the budding of the Internet I was able gleam news for the first time from many sources without being forced to watch the 6 o’clock news with my parents.  For as long as I can remember I was deeply interested in what was going on in our Government and as a kid wrote letters to Reagan, Bush and Clinton. When it came time to register to vote I registered Republican, feeling that the values of the 1996 Republican party were in line with what I found important.  To people who know me now they laugh and look at me a bit surprised when I tell them I’m still registered as a Republican voter.  What is truly interesting is that my opinions, ideas, and values, have not changed much in the last sixteen years.  I’m a bit wiser, I see the bigger picture a bit more clearly, and I’ve had other life experiences that that have led me to sure up my position a bit more, but I still feel that the things that made me a moderate Republican in 1996 are what make me a Liberal Democrat in 2011.  So what made me a Republican?

In 1993 I became a fan of the Republican Party.  Why?  National Health Care. The 1993 Senate Republican health plan, which is compared with Obama’s plan here, with the similarity endorsed by former Republican Senator Dave Durenberger here. In 1994 I became a Bob Dole fan and again a fan of the Republican party with the  Bipartisan Policy Center plan, endorsed by Bob Dole, Howard baker, George Mitchell and Tom Daschle, which is compared to Obama’s plan here. Finally I became a fan of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan, which was crafted by the same economist who helped create Obama’s plan, and which is rhetorically indistinguishable from Obama’s.  In 1993 supporting the idea of a National Health system made me a moderate Republican, in line with some of the better known and respected members of Republican party.  In 2012, supporting the same ideas introduced to me by Senate Republicans in 1993, I have been accused of being so far left that in some peoples opinion I’m a socialist, and nearly communist.

Ronald Reagan himself supported the Brady Handgun Act. Republicans did indeed support gun control measures in the past. In fact It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street.” The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners. Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. “I support the Brady Bill,” he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, “and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay.”  In 1991 I was a Republican, supporting Gun Control.

Originally championed by Theodore Roosevelt, Republicans used to support efforts to protect the environment. Over the last century, however, that support has withered. Republicans even supported the environment in the 1970′s when Nixon created the EPA, but no longer. Republicans are now in favor or easing restrictions on companies and moving responsibility for oversight to the companies themselves, many have even supported the idea of opening the entire American coastline and even federally protected lands to drilling and mining. The Reagan White House conceived the first cap-and-trade program to reduce pollution. It was used in the 1980s to phase out lead in gasoline at a lower cost. An EPA analysis showed estimated savings from the lead trading program of approximately 20 percent over alternative programs that did not provide for lead banking, resulting in cost savings of about $250 million per year.  In the 1980s I was a Republican, supporting the protection of our Natural Resources and Environment.

Many Republicans have been talking about abolishing the minimum wage lately.  However I remember a day not to long ago when 82 House Republicans and 39 Senate Republicans joined the Democratic majority in passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. President Bush signed the bill into law. It is only now that Republicans oppose the minimum wage on behalf of corporations.  In 2007 I was a proud Republican, supporting a fair wage for the American worker.

Ronald Reagan, currently one of the most venerated of Republicans, negotiated the very first Nuclear START (Strategic Arms Reduction) Treaty which was signed by George H. W. Bush in 1991. That treaty expired in 2009 and the Obama White House took on the task of  negotiating a new one.  Republicans filibustered the ratification of the 2009 START Treaty even though failure to approve the treaty would have directly harmed US national security by denying the US military information about Russian nuclear forces and plans, and would have forced both nations to rely on worst-case assumptions for planning, increasing the risk of miscalculation and mistakes.  In 1991 I was a proud Republican who could see that Nuclear arms reduction and monitoring benefited us all.

So when a flag waving, tea drinking, Nobama sign holding, ‘Republican’ calls me a Nazi, Socialist, or Communist while wearing his ‘What would Reagan Do?’ t-shirt I can’t help but think if he were alive today how far left of the current Republican Party he too would be.

-Michael

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