Posted on November 12, 2018
by Steve Janowick

Any man who is over forty probably remembers the classic Eddie Murphy movie, Trading Places.  

It depicts the zany adventures of a down-and-out, homeless man who, against his knowledge, becomes the puppet of a couple of old-money tycoons.  It was comedy brilliance from the entire cast-and it had a topless, nude scene from Jamie Lee Curtis that rendered many VHS tapes useless from constant rewinding.  But through all that great entertainment, it was the underlying themes of America’s class systems of the time that really struck a chord in my young brain. I had no idea what class systems meant of course, but I knew from watching this movie, that the old, rich guys were certainly the villains and Eddie Murphy’s homeless man was the hero who would level the playing field and teach those greedy scoundrels a lesson.  

We grew up just scraping by and it was drilled into my head that all rich people were devious, covetous and wouldn’t think twice of knocking us blue-collar, hard-working folks down a peg-just to get richer.  So, when it came my time to vote for the first time, I proudly pulled the lever for every single Democrat on the ticket. Because, as my mom and grandma religiously preached, they stood for and championed “our people”, the working class.  And the Republicans? Well, they were for the cigar smoking, brandy sipping, country-clubbers.

I wore my donkey pins with pride.  I listened to Bon Jovi sing about Tommy and Gina’s dream of running away to a new life.  I listened to Springsteen’s impassioned sagas about Wendy, Rosie and all the hometown, union guys who were laid off and looking for second chances.  I romanticized about Jack and Diane growing up together in the heartland. Because I was them. I was the embodiment of all of them.  And together as proud working stiff Democrats, we would keep fighting the rich, and the powers that be, to ensure our just piece of the American dream.

But then something happened.

I can’t put my finger on the exact time, but it was around midway through the first term of Clinton’s presidency that I started to develop some serious cognitive dissonance.  It seemed, at least to me at the time, that the whole rich versus poor line in the sand, that so distinctly separated the two parties, and fueled my political leanings and passions, was being slowly replaced by many different, indistinct lines in the sand.  Also, the fair play and civility between both sides, that was a proud hallmark of our discourse, was morphing into an ugliness that was very off-putting. And as much as I wanted to side with my team, I noticed it was they who were being the instigators and bullies most of the time.  

I mean, I knew the Republicans were money-hungry and self-absorbed, but I had no idea they were the second coming of Nazis, who loathed, and wished hurt upon, every single person or group who was different than them.  I was friends with many of Republicans. They were good people! But now they were being impugned, vilified and morally persecuted by a loud, powerful constituency and a media machine that was there at every turn when they stubbed their toes.  I could see the way my party was now playing the game. And it seemed unfair. And because of that, I was now having to decide between my broad economic concerns and the indignation and disappointment I was feeling.

Fast forward to today, 2018, and that little ripple of change that started in me around the mid-90’s, is now a raging tsunami.  It’s like a thousand lightbulbs of truth went off daily in my head and heart for the twenty years since and brought me to where I am today-a proud, middle-of-the-road, conservative man.  I could opine 1,000 pages about all the specific reasons chronologically. I could go into detail about all the political, economic and social factors. But why would I do that? I’m just a nitwit who writes short, quirky blogs, and, frankly, everyone is bored to death, and even desensitized, with the daily bombardment of that crap.

All I will say, however, is that the party that once championed me, and the rest of my working-class heroes, has sadly morphed into a party of divisive, mud-slingers who are more concerned about staying in power by separating America into identity groups that are qualified by some weird hierarchy of victimhood.  And then disparage and scorn anyone who dare disagree. And that is off-putting as hell to average Joe’s like me.

Hopefully, one day the pendulum will swing back more toward the middle for the Democrats.  I miss wearing my old donkey pins, man! But, in the meantime, Tommy, Gina and I will be doing our part to make America great again.   Whether Bon Jovi likes it or not.

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