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If that is what a hippie Republican is, then I‘m guilty as charged

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POSTED May 27, 2010 3:04 a.m.
The caller didn’t waste any time.

After I said my name and asked if I could help her, she blurted out, “You know what you are, Mr. Wyatt, you’re nothing but a hippie Republican.”

Before I could ask her what she meant, she had hung up the phone.

I’ve been called worse without a doubt. (Worse than a hippie, I mean.)

It wasn’t the first time someone had used an interesting way to describe my political views. Shortly after arriving in Manteca 19 years ago, a caller - who did not give his name - demanded to know whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. I explained I was a Republican but I could never ever recall voting straight party line.

The caller responded by saying, “Good, that means we’ll have a liberal finally editing the paper.”

I thought that was a bit odd until I learned to appreciate that in many ways San Joaquin Valley Democrats do indeed make Republicans appear liberal on more than a few issues. The reason inland California is so red compared to the true blue coast has more to do with the attitude of Democrats and independents than it does sheer numbers of Republicans who, by the way, don’t really dominate voter registration rolls in the valley.

Since the more recent caller didn’t give me an opportunity to have her explain why she’d describe me as a “hippie Republican”, I gave it some thought.

I make no secret that I bought a Ford Escape hybrid nearly five years ago not for the tax credit - which I just missed - nor for the gas mileage. I bought it because it reduced emissions.

If that makes me a hippie then every responsible farmer and rancher I know can be called a hippie as well. Stewardship of our resources is how agriculture is sustainable and profitable. A prudent farmer doesn’t destroy what he earns a living from by misuse.

On the flip side I don’t believe in environmental perfection which is where too many seem to want to take the concept of environmental protection.

As for being a vegetarian it is a choice I made about health and not a political statement. Don’t get me wrong. One shouldn’t abuse animals. At the same time, I have no quarrel with those who hunt or fish or dine on steak. Personally, I like leather jackets made from the real stuff.

My tendency to want to recycle and not use plastic bags has as much to do with trying to be prudent as it does with having an obligation to future generations. You save money by recycling. While I don’t go as far as saving California redemption containers to take to recycling centers, I understand fully well that the more items I recycle, the lower our garbage bills are going to be. It costs a lot of money to bury stuff that could otherwise be recycled. If I’m going to get on government’s case about being a big spender of our money, I need to be willing to do my part to help keep the cost of government down.

Also, if I respect the sacrifices of those who went before whether it was spilling their blood for our freedom or sweating and braving hardship to settle and build America, I should do my part in any way I can to repay that debt to those who will follow me. Recycling is one small way of doing that.

There are some who tend to think Republicans who may think generally the way I do by not marching to the same exact drummer that they do are RINOs - Republicans in Name Only. It’s a shame as the “my way or the highway” approach of many on the right as well as many Democrats who lean heavily to the left isn’t conducive to governing.

Everything can’t be the proverbial line in the sand. It takes a strong dose of being pragmatic to come to solutions. It doesn’t mean caving in on every point nor does it mean digging in your heels every time either. Barry Goldwater - who in my opinion was the most influential Republican of the 20th century who held fast to his principles - knew when he had to reach across the aisle to make things work as America came first and foremost with him as it did Democratic stalwarts such as Hubert Humphrey and Scoop Jackson.

It wasn’t about party politics.

Goldwater, for example was routinely scorned by many organizations that lobbied on behalf of Israel’s interests because he made it clear to them he was not a Jew first or a Republican first. He was an American first and foremost.

If adhering to that philosophy makes me a hippie Republican, so be it.
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