In 2016 I campaigned for Hillary Clinton, even getting to personally meet her at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Gala. Since then I’ve lived a lifetime. In 2020 I made a pledge to myself to do whatever it took to keep Wisconsin red.
2016 was an exciting year for me. I had recently graduated from UW – Washington County at which I had served as President of the Student Body and was just entering my studies at UW – Milwaukee to finish my bachelors. Despite my parents protests and their requests for me to attend a private Christian college, I wanted to enjoy the verve of America’s perfectly sized city. Over the years, reflecting on that, it became increasingly prophetic.
I’ve always considered myself a kind, easy going man. More times than I can count, when bake sales would be held at UWM I would seek them out before close and buy them out. A lot of those times the backpack full of junk food ended up in my department’s break room or in the student government offices (or both if they were feeling ambitious for their sale). It was one of those rare win-win opportunities that life presents you with that gives you a warm, connected feeling to the soul of the universe. But no man is perfect and I’m no exception. I’m sometimes accused of being “greedy” but humbly submit that it’s equally matched by my generosity.
It should come as no shock that I would gravitate toward the Democrat message. “Some people suffer so much in their lives. Transgender people can’t go to the bathroom to which they identify. Black men suffer discrimination by the police. Women are only paid 77¢ on the dollar compared to men.” We’re a developed culture that works for the empowerment of all men and their fair treatment under the law, right?
It’s easy to sense the siren’s call in these topics. And myself, a young and impressionable college student, fresh from a community college of just over 1,000 people, it felt like an opportunity to engage in honorable discourse to better the country to which I would solemnly give my life for. The first year of my time in their party was exhilarating. I could meet and speak with Millennials similar to myself that felt the same way about ending racism, sexism, homophobia. Being an LGBT man, I could speak from the discrimination I had faced in my life to show my bona fides. But then a curious thing happened. I met a man well versed in market economics. A mutual friend of ours encouraged me to join him for a few of Chris’ lectures. At the time, my friend Chris was running educational programs with Americans for Prosperity. Chris is a man that veils his sharp mind with a warm smile and mild demeanor. He is imposing only by his words and stature. I was excited to hear Chris’ counter arguments to what (at the time) I thought were proper answers to the questions this country was facing. I left Chris’ event with a stack of pamphlets, planning the rest of my year by AfP’s seminars.
My university comrades were much less excited about this. Asking a 22-year-old college student why more women don’t get degrees in petroleum engineering to rebalance the wage gap was akin to flirting with their girlfriend within earshot. Looking back, it should have been unmistakable that they were more interested about being morally right than factually correct. Theirs was a method to keep people in line, unquestioning of their secular religion – this kind of modern Maoism. By the time I graduated from UW – Milwaukee, I had already left the Democratic party behind.
Paradoxically, Trump mostly embodies these self-reinforcing ideals. While publicly burdened for his past moral …inconsistencies; temporarily absolving those past discretions for a greater good. He has most embodied the best system to liberate people from the mistakes of history. Obama argued that manufacturing jobs weren’t coming back. China and India couldn’t be shaken from them. But low skill and blue-collar workers without college degrees depend on these jobs to gain the skills necessary to advance into white collar careers. The bedrock of the American middle class. What disadvantages that come from skipping 50,000 USD in debt from community colleges, they gain by an immediate salary and on the job experience usually unobtainable by college grads. Something I’ve only recently grown to appreciate. Trump’s efforts set people up to make their own opportunities and to make their lives what they want them to be are what will keep him successful. To find employment that will lift them out of poverty, force China to play fair in trade and intellectual property, and wherever possible – to undo past injustices codified in government. Choice wherever possible is the essence of that type of obtainable, free society.
I had come to realize that the only guaranteed progress that comes in life is from people making their own decisions. Embracing their self-driven need to improve the world they live in and to make it in their own altruistic image was the key. The founding fathers had a similar vision, no kings or ideology that were beyond rigorous questioning. I pray every night that my former comrades will one day awaken to the congealing that is being undertook in their name for a better world.