This voter’s evolutionary journey

Published 8:55 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

CHAPEL HILL — Maybe it was the talk of drinking moonshine in our pasts that went to our heads, making us so light-headed we forgot our manners.

My new-best-friend Lois of Gainesville, Fla., mid-80s, had squeezed into the Carolina blue plastic seat beside me in Carmichael Arena on Saturday morning at 9 awaiting the UNC School of Law graduation. Very prim and proper and well dressed. A lady, obviously.

My son and her grandson were among those getting diplomas.

“You cheer for mine, and I’ll cheer for yours,” I said, breaking the ice.

We talked about this and that, re-lived our youthful moonshine adventures when talking about the North Carolina mountains. And then she popped the most impertinent question:

“Who are you voting for?”

I sensed trouble.

I had known this woman for five minutes, and she had already cut to the chase. Graduation would take two hours. We had arrived an hour early to get parking places and seats. Lois was going to be my immediate elbow-touching neighbor for three hours. Did we really want to talk politics?

Lois from Florida might be one of those crazy feminists for Hillary Clinton, and my answer could open up a can of condemnation beside me.

I could have dodged. I could have lied. Besides, I hadn’t publicly uttered the words aloud since the race narrowed last week after the Indiana primary, and I was still uneasy with my new political alliance.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had said he wasn’t ready yet to embrace the GOP heir apparent. The Bush family, still stinging from Jeb’s rejection and waste of $100 million in campaign funds, is taking a vacation during the November election. I might have followed their examples.

“Trump,” I blurted out, expecting her to recoil in horror along with the rest of the suspectedly liberal Chapel Hill crowd seated around me within earshot.

“Me, too!” she said, as if I had just qualified for her secret club. “I hope he will shake them up.”

Lois and I spent the next three hours in peace.

My political evolution has taken me all over the map this election season. I started with “Low Energy” Jeb Bush until he blanked like a deer in the headlights, gravitated to libertarian Rand Paul until he fell out, switched to Carly Fiorina until she tanked, had a brief thing for “Little” Marco Rubio until landing finally on the side of “Lying” Ted Cruz, the gifted orator and solidly conservative candidate who I thought could be the GOP standard bearer. He withdrew last week after failing against the bully Trump in Indiana. I was one of the few people who could find something to like about Cruz. His fellow senators seem to hate him. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner called him “Lucifer.” Last week he dropped out of the race, quickly followed by the non-achieving Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Anybody but Trump, I had always reasoned. But here I am knocking on his door. Can I vote for this serial philanderer, this egomaniac, this rude, intemperate billionaire with suspect political doctrine? He offended me when he said Carly Fiorina’s face was ugly, when he mocked a handicapped reporter, when he insulted prisoner of war John McCain, when his main debating tactic was rudeness and loudness.

But Lois and I are fed up with the Clintons and their brand, with the runaway debt, with the military misadventures, with the political con men who never deliver on their promises, with the government-sponsored attacks on the basic fabric of society.

He may be a lout, but Trump has demonstrated he knows how to get things done. Hillary has merely taken us for a ride to make deposits in her bank.

I still wince when I say “Trump.”

– Dwight Sparks