I don’t feel much like being a Republican or a Democrat.
But, folks sure try to label me one way or the other.
This column runs in about 65 newspapers across Illinois. Just last week, I received a note from one newspaper editor.
“Scott, what has happened to you” the letter read, “becoming more liberal by the day? You oppose displaying the Confederate flag, but defend illegal immigrants being here? Mollie Tibbetts’ death was not a tragedy. It was a crime that would not have happened if [the immigrant] had not been here. And Trump should not talk about that fact?”
Well, no, I am not becoming more liberal—or conservative. In fact, I reject both labels for myself. And increasingly, I feel isolated from the ideas being expressed by either political party.
I am a strong believer in the efficiencies of the market economy being able to solve most societal woes. That is why I support the ideas of smaller, less-intrusive government and low taxes.
Along those lines, I believe in more open borders and immigration because we should be a beacon of liberty drawing hopeful immigrants from across the globe. Immigrants make our economy stronger and enrich our culture.
The so-called “illegal aliens” I’ve met came here to work hard and support their families.
To quote George W. Bush, “Wouldn’t you cross a river to feed your family?”
People come here for economic as well as political freedom. That’s an old story. My ancestors came here from Europe, not just so they could vote but so that they could prosper.
Now you’ll hear people say, “But, Scott, your people came here legally.”
Well, of course they did; there were few immigration laws before 1925. In other words, the source of illegal immigration isn’t Mexico, Honduras or Guatemala. It’s Washington, D.C.
Folks are coming here for the same reasons they always have, but now our government is labeling them “illegal.”
Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts’ death is a tragedy. But, it is no more a tragedy because it may have been committed by someone who crossed our border.
When I hear politicians like Donald Trump exploit tragedies such as this for political gain, I become angry. No group deserves to be painted with a broad brush.
As for symbols such as the Confederate flag, I believe it is an emblem of white supremacy. And, yes, I believe even hateful icons such as that should be protected by our Constitution. The best way to counter speech that you disagree with is to speak out, which is what I do.
A friend talked to me the other day.
“I read your column. I know you’re a Republican.”
Well, I split my ticket in almost every election. I vote for the person, not the party. But, my friend would be correct that I’ve voted for more Republicans than I have for Democrats.
However, I won’t support Donald Trump. He embraces an ideology that divides and has a personal character that disappoints.
Conservative friends will say, “He cut taxes.”
Well, not really. When you cut tax rates but don’t cut spending, it’s just pushing debt onto future generations. That’s a tax deferral, not a tax cut.
So, am I Republican or a Democrat? Neither. A liberal or a conservative? Both.
Is there room for someone with my views in the political conversation? Beats me.
But, I’m going to keep on talking.
Editor’s note: Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and produces the podcast “Suspect Convictions.”