If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d have signed a contract to write for Patheos’ Politics Blue channel, I’d have laughed out loud. I never thought I’d be here–for so many reasons.
There was always a writer in me, scratching to get out. When I was in my teens, that’s what I thought I might do. I wanted to be the next Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, or Calvin Trillin. But I didn’t have the gumption or the confidence to go for it. I’d write to amuse my friends but somewhere, deep down, I couldn’t pull the trigger on doing what it takes to write for a living.
Eventually, I found my way into a career as an educator, but the writer inside me was still knocking on the door to get out. Eventually, that writer forced his way out in the form of a historical novel, published in 2015. Once the writer finally broke through, there was no pushing him back in. So, in December, 2015 I began a blog.
The first few months of my blogging career I wrote on a mishmash of topics that I found interesting–history, family, music–anything but politics. I have always hated politics, yet here I am writing mostly about political things for a very large platform–how did this happen?
Well, Donald Trump and Mike Pence happened. That’s the short answer.
The fact that I am writing on a left of center platform is a fact that I would have laughed at a decade ago. I used to be right of center–never close to far-right, but right of center, for sure. I felt compelled to be so, based on my Christian faith. I fell for the propaganda from the far right evangelical leadership. I wrote in much more depth about my path leading me farther left in my article found here. For now, suffice to say that I broke free of the right’s stranglehold on the Christian/political narrative and have since found that there is a large and growing community of others out there like me. We’ve come to realize that we can still be Christians and allow others to have rights that are not tied to faith-based morality. We’ve come to realize that the messages sent from some of the more political types in the right wing of Christianity are often in conflict with our understandings of Christ’s message of love for our neighbors.
Once, I broke out of the grasp of the fundamentalist Christian political viewpoint, I began to open my eyes to things I’d overlooked.
But I still avoided writing overtly political articles. I had, and still have, many dear Christian friends who remain where I used to be politically–they either don’t see things the way I have come to see them, or they are still too reluctant to “come out.” I still respect them and value their friendship. I know many of them read what I write, so I tip-toed around sensitive issues–but I felt guilty about that because I know that isn’t what good writers do.
Then Donald Trump and Mike Pence happened.
The week Trump announced Mike Pence as his running mate, I sat down and wrote a piece that exposed all my grievances about what Pence helped do to education as governor of my state, Indiana. I went for it, finally. When I posted that article–which you can read here–I couldn’t have ever predicted the ways it would change my life.That article was the first thing I’d ever written that “went viral.” From the moment I hit the post button, things began to get crazy. Within a few hours, my Pence piece had been read more than all my previous articles combined. Over the next days and weeks, the article was shared thousands of times and read by people in over 80 different nations. I was getting comments in support and hateful comments calling me every name in the book. I was getting social media friend requests from all over the world. It was a crazy experience.
That article broke the ice and it reduced my inhibitions about writing with an opinionated political slant. It opened the floodgates for me to pour out things from my soul that I’d kept bottled up from everyone but some of my closest confidants. It also opened the door that brought me to Patheos.
And now I write articles about our political climate multiple times per week. It’s been a long, strange journey.
But why do I do it?
I do it because I never want to see Donald Trump and Mike Pence happen again. This is the first time I’ve ever become so militantly opposed to any administration.
I first started following politics fairly closely during the Clinton years. I had issues with Clinton–mostly moral ones–but I saw redeeming value in his message and I didn’t question his heart for our country. During the Clinton years, I was a registered Republican.
I had issues with Bush as well. I really thought he screwed the pooch on the Iraq situation, but I never questioned his heart for our country–a fact that really bothered some of my friends on the left, I’m sure.
I had issues with Obama–when he ran in ’08, I was still drinking the kool aid served up by the right wing. But by the time he ran the second time, my eyes were beginning to open. Obama got my vote in 2012–by that time, Mike Pence was emerging in Indiana. My radar was on full-time. I was seeing through the games played by the right. I had moved farther away from them and now was looking across at them from left of center.
During Obama’s last term, my new position was solidified. I saw how awfully he was treated by the far right and, yes, even some of my dear Christian friends.
When the ’16 election cycle started to heat up and Trump began to emerge, it became harder and harder to remain silent.
So I began to speak out in the only way I knew how–I wrote.
I don’t write to change minds, but to open them, just a little.
I write to offer another perspective for my friends on the right. I write to let them know that they have fallen into a trap that led to us electing an unhinged, unstable man who is totally unfit to lead us–a man who is trying to pull us down a path to destruction. I never questioned any president’s heart for his country until now. Now I have grave doubts.
I’m not trying to pull everyone I know over to the left with me.
I’m trying to get them to set politics aside for a moment and look at what we’ve done to ourselves.
I’m trying to keep Donald Trump and Mike Pence from ever happening to us again–ever.