Opinion pieces are designed to organize the writer’s thoughts, encourage allies and maybe get opponents to reassess their own thinking. But, I know conversions are unlikely though not unprecedented.          

          Consider the effort I’ve spent documenting the growing fascism promulgated by Donald Trump. Lackeys – vocal, hedging their bets or scared silent – still support a misogynistic bigot who cannot construct a complete, coherent sentence.

          The destruction of the republic is not as important to his followers as hating the same people.

          But, their adamantine minds spurred me to suss out just how flexible I have been, how often I’ve changed my mind.

          In my late teens, I found new truths in a conservative religious group. I studied its material, read its magazine. My first trip to the library at Stephen F. Austin State University was to shore up support for my beliefs.

          What I found was that supposedly honest scholarly justifications for such ideas as British Israelism were just plain lies, flat out lies.

          Thus ended my flirtation with the wrong religious right. No wonder Ryan Walters hates libraries.

          Just a little earlier, I could have been spotted sporting a Nixon button. (Both parties were dedicated to making the republic work at that time. There were even liberal Republicans.) Plus, Nixon claimed to have a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam.

          Mostly I was still fuming over the rude treatment Eugene McCarthy’s supporters had received at the Chicago convention. High on my list of Democrats to despise was Oklahoma’s own Carl Albert, speaker of the House, who presided (the monkey with a gavel) for the status quo.

          Luckily, I was too young to vote. It wasn’t long before I was disabused by the lack of principles of the Republican Party – Mark Hatfield notwithstanding.

          It wasn’t just Richard Nixon’s Watergate crimes. He engineered a complete flip-flop for the Republican Party’s state of mind on bigotry.

          Nixon’s Southern Strategy targeted racists in the Democratic Party. His overtures, much more subtle than today’s blatant hate-speak, found willing listeners among those Democrats, whose own party had initiated rule changes that opened the party machinery to African-Americans.

          Within the course of the seventies, the  two parties began changing their minds on bigotry. Southern  Democrats, historically racist to the point of forming Dixiecrats and George Wallace’s American Party, abandoned their alliance with northern liberals, with whom they still share economic interests.

          Not willing to share political power with Blacks, many racist southern Democrats found themselves welcomed by what had once been the Party of Lincoln, the abolitionist emancipators. Since then, Republican moneyed interests have provided their racist allies with people to hate until today hatred has become the main tenet of GOP propaganda.

          Talk about a change of mind! My growth and development pale in comparison.

          Liberalism and environmentalism have set my political course since the mid-seventies. The lies I had been fed previously insulted my intelligence. My conversion to opposing the death penalty was my last major political reassessment.

          And, while I voted for him twice, I was never emotionally committed to Bill Clinton. (I preferred Al Gore.) So, when, as editor of The Borger News-Herald,  I advocated for Clinton’s resignation, it was a loyalty to principles.

          Back then, I was joined by most Republicans, many of whom now slavishly embrace the much viler behavior of the court-designated sexual abuser and fraudster who staged an unsuccessful coup, recently accused the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of treason, promised a Putin-style crackdown on the free press if he is elected and claimed “military person” Jeb Bush (he never served) got us into the Middle East quagmire (Jeb’s dad or brother).

          It would be nice if some of my former allies in basic decency would experience a change of mind.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: <scdpok.us> or <facebook.com/SCDPOK/>.)

Mistaken minds can be changed

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