Cut and run, or commit to change?

I have now had my current job for two years. The first year was pretty rough: all of my new employees had previously been co-workers, and several had interviewed for the position that I got; a lot of change was needed, and change is generally an upsetting thing to people; we were starting a new and much more intensive professional development regimen, which caused a lot of stress; and there were some other personnel matters that caused difficulties.

Despite that, it was a very successful year. Most everyone got certified on Windows 7. We fixed a lot of things and drastically improved training of both part-time and full-time staff. We made some huge leaps in our technology and setup. Overall, I was tired but happy. It had taken a lot of long hours and hard work, but we were pulling out of a slump.

And despite that, my end-of-year evaluation was pretty negative.

The scores on the paper were fine, but the feedback was hard to take. I was facing a situation built on rumor and gossip, and while my boss claimed to have faith in me, it really shook my faith in myself. I needed to, as he put it, learn to fight ghosts. I needed to speak truth to lies, but I couldn’t know who was speaking the lies, or even what exactly they were saying or to whom. I needed to build up my reputation without knowing exactly what was tearing it down.

I thought seriously about leaving. I could get a job as a system administrator and just work on servers instead of with people. I could go to a different institution or a different company and start over. I could run away.

But after about six weeks of prayer, both by myself and with close friends and family, I decided to stay. I felt like God was calling me to stay. He was saying that there was something that needed done here, and that I could make things better, but that I would have to stay to do it.

And after committing myself, and putting in more hard effort, things began to look up. Actually, work is way, way better than it was. It is almost a year later, and I have seen dramatic improvements in relationships, work, and morale. It’s still not where I’d like it to be, but it’s getting better.

Staying wasn’t an easy decision. I was hurt, distraught, and terrified. I wanted out, but God prompted me to stay.

Now I’m faced with the same decision regarding politics and our state.

Here’s the thing: in many respects, I’m probably more Republican than Democrat. Looking at the core values upon which the Republican party was formed, I’m on board with those values. What’s weird is that the party has changed, and the last several election cycles have seen it become more extreme, more right-wing, and more alarming. Check out this great infographic from XKCD for a visual of the House of Representatives and their shifting demographic.

Subsequently, I can’t support the current GOP. They’re anti- a lot of the stuff that I am pro- and I can’t help but think that they’d burn the world and all the meek, humble, and poor in it if they could get more power. The machine is broken and gone awry.

For the last several years, though, I have been considering declaring myself a Republican. Is it possible that we could change the party from the inside and bring it back to a more moderate place? Here are some of the political stances that I think might fall within the Republican party of old:

  • I think we should keep taxes low by not providing inefficient services, but we should still tax at a rate that lets us meet our commitments and take care of our citizens in the most efficient manner
  • Some of the keys to a good society are security, physical health of its citizenry, and education. The Republican party was once the party of well-educated, industrialized northerners, and I feel a kinship with that group. Subsequently, I would value investment in police and fire departments, health benefits, and strong primary, secondary, and higher education.
  • Given advances in technology, population distribution, and society in general, I think a single payer option is the most efficient and lowest cost of providing healthcare, which results in a healthier GDP
  • I value protection of religious rights… for everyone, not just myself
  • I think the wealthy should be taxed at a higher rate than the poor
  • I’m somewhat isolationist in my views on foreign policies, but subsequently think that all foreign affairs should be conducted multilaterally
  • I am concerned about the strength of the military-industrial complex, and similarly concerned about the incorporated complex

By my reckoning, that puts me roughly in line with the Republican party circa 1950.

I put this on Google+ earlier and it sort of echoes what I’m thinking: maybe rather than trying to write-off the Republican party and its associated crackpots (which I am still confident is a small but incredibly vocal minority of the party), we need to accept the 2-party system and try to change the parties from the ground up.

Am I being idealistic? If you think my list there is totally out-of-line with the Republican party and I need to just accept being a Democrat (or a Libertarian for that matter), let me know. My degree is in religious studies, not political science, and on a scale of 1-10 about political knowledge, I’m probably only a 4 or 5.

But I’m at least thinking about it. Maybe what the Republican party needs is some young moderates to finally stop talking about how crazy the GOP is and actually get involved and start trying to change it. Instead of running to the other party, with which we don’t entirely agree either, maybe we need to drag this one away from the cliff and back to a more moderate, reasonable position.


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