I am a Vietnam veteran. Here's why I chose to #WalkAway

Forty years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life.  I walked away from the Democrat party and registered as a Republican. This act was bold in light of the fact I was raised as a 3rd generation (at least) Democrat in what was a very active political family. 

To be factual, I didn’t walk away, the Democrats walked away from me and from the core values I learned as a member of a solid Conservative Democrat family.  This was back in the day when the terms Conservative and Democrat were not mutually exclusive. Does the term “blue dog Democrat” ring a bell?

My dad was a very active Conservative Democrat.  He was the State Democrat Chairman who drove John Kennedy across Nebraska in 1960 when Kennedy was campaigning for the presidency.  He listened to Kennedy explain (and became a strong proponent of) his plan to reduce taxes and thus stimulate the economy, increase employment, and grow our way out of the recession the U.S. was then experiencing.  As a small businessman, my dad understood the concept that full employment paved the road to prosperity for all.

But, the start of the Democrat shift to the left soon became an avalanche.  Concepts like entitlements signaled the start of the “nanny state.”  Re-election became more important than promoting the rugged individualism that made our country great.  The Democrat party of my youth, one that promoted hard work and expected every citizen to take responsibility for personal welfare and actions, was gone.

In its place was a group of misguided people who demanded entitlements for all; encouraged a move toward the socialist states of Europe; and, rewarded those who chose not to accept responsibility for personal and family well-being.  It would be easy to continue the litany of offenses that offended the morality and ethics of my upbringing.  But those I have mentioned were enough to cause me to examine my conscience.

Our country was created as a great experiment in democracy. It has succeeded far beyond the dreams of any of our founding fathers. We have always been able to adapt our system to correct any problem we face. The destruction of our current form of government is not the answer.

This divide has widened. The Democrat machine currently scoffs at the American flag I spent two years defending in combat in Vietnam. They support anyone with a grievance, no matter how contrived. They espouse equal outcomes with no regard for the talent and effort required to become successful.  They actively support attacks on government officials, constant protests, demand handouts, and have taken a commanding lead in the lack of civility and rancorous discourse.  They deny the impact religion has had on the formation and success of our country.  They support abortion under the guise of health care for women.  And maybe most regrettable, they promote hatred and division for their political expediency.   

Our country was created as a great experiment in democracy.  It has succeeded far beyond the dreams of any of our founding fathers.  It has outlasted and bested every country that has attempted any form of Socialism or Fascism.  We have always been able to adapt our system to correct any problem we face.  The destruction of our current form of government is not the answer.

I felt alone and had an uneasy sense of treason to my family when I walked away from the Democrat party.  But the decision was based on ethical and moral grounds and I am pleased I didn’t wait any longer to follow my conscience. My path led me to become the Chair of a County Republican party.  The people I met reinforced my belief that my decision met and exceeded my expectations.

It struck me when I heard about the current #WalkAway campaign that it is not new. I was a pioneer in this movement some 40 years ago; and, there were many thousands of voters who walked away and elected President Donald Trump during our last election.  We will need more patriots who are willing to take the difficult road to righteousness and reject the easy road which will lead to the denigration of our model democracy.

Join me! Realize that you won’t be walking alone.  Many of us have taken the journey and it is Making Our Country Great Again!

Russell V. Hanson is a retired business owner and combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam.