Following party line can be costly

Teachers across Kentucky aren’t too happy with Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to make them pay for their own health insurance until they are 65 and eligible for Medicare.

Some teachers are eligible to retire before they reach 50, if they start teaching immediately after college and put in the 27 years of service required, which means they could add a very large bill to their retirement budget if the legislature passes the proposal. It reportedly applies to any current or future retired teacher who has or will retire after 2010 and is not 65.

Some educators seem surprised that the governor they supported is so determined to take thousands of dollars out of their pockets and perhaps force them out of retirement. They didn’t seem to know he was against public education, even though his comments about teachers, teacher unions and his support for charter schools made it extremely obvious.

I remember sitting at a teachers’ meeting a year and a half ago as a KEA representative warned teachers to think about themselves and their families when voting for governor. Some, however, seemed pretty determined to follow the party line whether it hurt them personally or not. They may not be quite so enthusiastic about showing the liberals who’s boss now.

It never made a lot of sense to me to blindly follow either party. It still surprises me how so many people will support their party on every issue, as if anyone is right every time. An elected official who is a Democrat, for instance, is always correct in the eyes of the people who support that party and the Republican is always wrong. The Republicans are just as determined to always support the candidates in their party and bash the ones who are Democrats.

For many, liberal is something of a dirty word and conservative is a badge of honor. The opposite is true for many on the left, like some of the late night talk show hosts who seem to think all conservatives aren’t very smart.

As a high school and college student, I was quite taken with Ronald Reagan and the conservative movement of that time and was happy to cast my first vote for president for him. My dad, a UMWA Democrat, was extremely concerned that he’d “raised a Republican” and warned me at the time that I may change my mind when I actually started working and trying to earn a living.

What I did learn was that I didn’t want to be labeled Democrat or Republican or conservative or liberal, but instead look at each issue on its own merits and never be one who followed the party line because some person or group told me how I should think or vote. I’ve developed conservative tendencies on issues like crime and immigration, but I definitely don’t follow the conservative agenda on education and a few other issues.

Some voters are so gullible, which is obvious by some of the commercials you see around election time. It’s hard for me to understand how issues like abortion or standing for the flag are relevant in a county race, but still you see them mentioned in ads as one candidate tries to prove he’s more religious than the other guy.

When I’m asked if I’m Democrat or Republican, I usually respond that I don’t like either party. The childishness coming from both sides is more than a little discouraging.

Any Democrat or Republican not interested in helping Harlan County, especially those who have been in office for years and have continually ignored our needs, will never have my support. Any candidate or elected official who doesn’t support public education can also add me as a critic, so it should be obvious that I oppose Bevin’s attacks on education and educators and his support of transferring public money to private schools through vouchers or funneling it away through charter schools.