Full disclosure: I never really did consider it.

But in 2000, when McCain was actually a moderate, which is pretty mavericky for a Republican, I liked the guy. I liked Gore, too, but McCain was persuasive and for a brief moment I was torn. But then… Bush took the Republican nomination and any indecision on my part was lost. I am still pissed at all of the citizens who voted for Nader. The world would be a different place right now. It’s bad enough to not vote, to stand idly by and watch someone get hit by a bus. It’s something else to willfully throw a person under the bus yourself. Nader-voters gleefully threw Gore, the country, and the world under the bus and we have all suffered for it.

In that spirit, I cast my vote for Kerry in 2004. Not because I liked the guy. He’s okay but he certainly wasn’t my first choice for president. The lesser of two evils? Yes, he was that.

But Obama? Yes, I truly, sincerely, with all of heart and soul, wanted him to be the next president. I believed every word that he has said throughout the presidential campaign. This former die-hard Hillary supporter is now grateful that others disagreed with her and elected Obama in the primaries. He will make a better president than Clinton would have, although I think she would have been great also. Actually, I think I fell in love with him just a little bit.

Did you watch his acceptance speech last night? The man is destined for greatness. Whenever I watch MLK speeches,  I choke up. Both with convictions so strong, words so elequent… I felt like I was watching his spirit reborn in Obama. And not just because they are both black but because of how strongly they both believe that all things are possible and in their sincere appeal to all that is good in us as human beings. That in their cores, they want to see a true united states. A united world.

Contrarily, the Republican campaign has appealed to all that is base in our society. Our fear of the “gay agenda.” Fear of gender equality and reproductive rights. Fear of affirmative action. And while the McCain campaign never overtly said so, and while I believe that McCain himself does respect Obama, his supporters clearly feared the rise of a black man to the presidency. Fear of the other. Fear fear fear. And what is to be afraid of? While the majority of us are celebrating diversity, equality, an inclusive society built on love, tolerance, and peace, there is signifigant percentage of our nation that is desperate to cling to the old ways, the status quo. They believe a woman has no authority over her body, that being gay is both a choice and a sin, and that non-whites are inherantly inferior. The Republican party caters to that crowd.

I know that there are people who vote Republican for fiscal reasons. But I would encourage those people to reconsider. Joe the Plumber, for instance. Joe the Plumber who is solidly middle class and always will be. Joe the Plumber who doesn’t think that people making over 250K should be in a higher tax bracket because (in his words) they work harder and they have earned it.

I ask you, Do they and have they? Do they work harder than the people working two minimum wage jobs and who still cannot pay their bills? Who are not provided health insurance or sick days? The people who haul your garbage, wash the dishes at the restaurants you patronize (and which they themselves cannot afford to visit), stand on their feet all day putting hamburgers together or checking out groceries… they don’t work as hard as tax attorneys and college professors and CEOs? Whose subjective ideas of “hard work” are we using to measure? And is it even possible to earn, in the true sense of that word, the wealth that 2% of this coutnry has amassed? These questions are not rhetorical… I would really like to know.

Why are “fiscal conservatives” so happy to shell out tax breaks to Wal-Mart and so hesitant to support a national health insurance? Who do they really think pays for those low-wage employees health care when they are forced to abuse emergency medicine and denied preventative care? Why did they continue to support a presidency that took our national surplus, squandered it to fight an endless and unjustified war, and left us with a crippling national debt? That is NOT conservative. The party of “small government”? Isn’t that the same party that supported the Patriot Act and constitutional ammendments prohibiting abortion and gay marriage? Again, can we define small? From where I stand, it means as little regulation as possible in the markets and corporate world and as much micromanaging of a citizen’s personal life as possible.

You are who you associate with… an old adage I tell my children all of the time. And from now on, no matter how “moderate” the Republican candidate is… I will not vote for them. Ever. I will never again consider voting for someone who associates with a hateful, fear-mongering party that insists on bringing out the worst in our people.