Commentary: Why I became a Republican
Vail CO, Colorado
Snowboarding. Community service. Relaxation. Those were my goals for the next 12 months. After successful ventures into filmmaking, political commentary, public school teaching, and small business, it just felt right to invest some time into personal reflection and service here in our home in the valley. That’s when the Republican Party of Eagle County entered my life and offered me a special, non-paid, job ” co-chair of the finance committee. I accepted on the spot.
Now, it is important to note why I became a Republican, in order to understand why I accepted the job. When I was around 4 years old, my mother volunteered to be the caucus leader of Pueblo County, our other home here in Colorado. At the time, President Reagan was running for re-election and he would likely carry every single county in Colorado, with the exception of Pueblo. There is a proud history of hard work in Pueblo, as our mills are our tallest buildings, with steel being the main line of business for so long.
And with steel’s production being unionized labor, Pueblo naturally became a Democratic stronghold.
No matter ” Mom and many others worked hard, and Colorado was a solidly red state in the 1984 elections. To thank her for her work, President Reagan sent a signed photo inscribed “Dear Seeme, Nancy and I would like to thank you for your hard work ” Ronald Reagan.” As an immigrant family from the Muslim world, it always meant a lot to our family to have a personal note from the president; a note that required no contribution or special favor, but simply, hard work and donated time. My mother often reminded me how difficult it would be to get such a note from the prime minister of Pakistan, had my parents elected to stay there. Thus, from 1984 and on, the framed note from President Reagan hung on our house’s most prominent wall.
Suddenly it was 1988 and my father proudly came home with a photo and frame in hand. Upon hanging it up, my mother and I shrieked. Appearing on the photo was not just Gov. Michael Dukakis, but also my good father, shaking the hand of the enemy and smiling! My father, a registered Democrat, had agreed to be a major contributor to Dukakis’s presidential campaign. Now, Mom and I knew that Dad would be involved, but we didn’t know he would be flaunting such activity!
However, Dad argued good points, causing Mom and I to be “undecided.” After all, President Reagan couldn’t run again, so what were we to do? Suddenly, Vice President Bush released a commercial showcasing the Boston Back Bay, Dukakis’ prized area. The advertisement showed pictures of suffocating fish, dying birds, and uprooted seaweeds.
As president, Bush would liberate fish from our bad environment. And little did the vice president know how big of an issue the environment was for Mom and I. We had a large aquarium full of more than 20 different fish, with each one named. Bush fished for our heartstrings and he hooked them tight.
Mom and I immediately went down to the local Bush campaign headquarters and grabbed hundreds of yard signs. We decorated the entire house with Bush signs, so that Dad’s photo with Dukakis could be blurred out of the scenery.
On Election Day itself, I recall my mother and I walking into the voting booth where she diligently poked holes into a voting-card. With one vote left, my mother handed me the punch-card pin, picked me up and said, “Baby, vote for Bush.” I guess you can consider that my first ever presidential vote, and of course, one of the coolest bonding experiences I’ve ever had with Mom.
Now, before Mom and I are panned for supporting President Bush Senior, it is important to note that he passed the most groundbreaking environmental legislation of our time, which was the official ban of CFCs in 1992. The legislation replaced CFCs with HCFCs, preventing great environmental damage over our ozone, and of course, preventing the death of many fish. Our vote was the correct one.
So do Mom and I still support the current Republican Party? The answer is a resounding “yes!” We both feel that President W. Bush is winning the war on terror (a later article, promise), despite some disagreements with the handling of the war. However, I could never abandon the Republican Party. Giving up on the Republican Party negates much special history that my mother and I share, whether it be a commercial about George Bush and fish, my first presidential vote, or something as simple as a picture of President Reagan. To Mom and I, the Republican Party is a constant reminder of a party that embraced a Muslim woman as its caucus leader, in addition to openly thanking her for her work. To us, it will always be a big tent.
With that said, my mother and I seek to improve our party rather than abandon it. I’ll be honest ” I am deeply disappointed with Republican decisions here in Colorado this past decade. Bill Owens and his cronies spent way too much on T-Rex and not enough on education. Too much standardized testing flooded our public schools and not enough change in the pedagogy itself.
Medicaid still remains without modern management all across the board, disenfranchising many economically-disadvantaged Coloradans.
And local oil drilling remains an activity that could use more environmental responsibility.
Bill Owens may come and go, along with other flawed policy, but Mom and I will always be Colorado Republican staples. And we both agree that it is high time to fix our beloved state party, our good Eagle County, and, most importantly, our beloved State of Colorado.
Thus, I don’t take the co-chair of finance position for the purpose of spreading partisan politics; I do it because this is the best way I know to create positive change for all. I welcome all e-mailed feedback.
May peace and love be upon you all!
Muhammad Ali Hasan of Beaver Creek writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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