Once upon a long-ago time I was a registered Republican, actually an Independent Republican (IR), active in Minnesota politics through the Minnesota Education Association. This was in the last century, and it feels like a century ago. The evolution of the party has taken it far away from me and from the IR leaders I respected and supported. I served on the PAC Board, and I voted with our endorsements that included Republicans Arne Carlson, Jim Ramstad, Dave Durenberger, Dave Jennings, and Vin Weber.

Today’s party has strayed into areas that should not be legislated. We as a people have an obligation to take care of the poor, to assure future generations that they will have clean air and water. We must preserve the forests both as animal and bird habitats and as part of the ecosystem. Our children should feel safe and be educated  in schools that will teach them to think, to ask questions, to be exposed to art and music, and to thrive in healthy environments.

I have always believed those things. Right now I am troubled by the pressures of both extremes, right and left, where the focus is disruptive and destructive. It seems to matter more who has an idea than what that idea is. The merits of a solution are weighed on imperfect scales; motivations are self-serving, and the “greater good” has taken on its own interpretation.

Forced to choose a political place for myself right now, I am independent with a strong social conscience, a love of the arts and a belief that they must be preserved. I don’t think wars solve problems, nor do I think armed citizens should roam the streets. I am a fiscal conservative, and I live my personal life that way. I recognize the difficulty of putting our nation’s financial house in order, but the needs of the voiceless must be met and maintained.

I have always been an optimist, but it gets harder to find sunshine in these stormy times.