Think and (Vote) for Yourself

I generally don’t care for politics that much. But it’s the season for it, so let me take the opportunity to articulate some of the conclusions I’ve come to.

I’m disappointed in all of the presidential candidates. They all have flaws. Some of them very major ones. I’ll get to more of that later.

First, lets start with some background on myself. Living in Missouri, I’m not required to register with one specific party affiliation regarding voting. In primaries, I can walk in and pick a ballot of any party and then vote on candidates. I guess I would have considered myself an independent Republican. I’m independently minded, and tended to lean towards issues first, then generic Republican support second usually in the name of “voting for the lesser of two evils.” I can’t say this strategy has worked well or that I’m proud of it.

Over the last few years, I’ve really learned to think for myself.  I would encourage you to go do your own research, study, learn about the candidates, and make an informed decision that you can live with.  I held my nose during the last two presidential elections and voted for the lesser of two evils and lost anyways. I’ve decided going forward that I’ll go support candidates I believe in and agree with even if they loose. I’d rather be able to live with myself and sleep at night.

Which brings me to my main points.

1. I will not vote for Donald Trump.

2. I’m done with the Republican Party.

Regarding the first issue, the reasons are many in which I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will not list them all. A few of them include: That he is a lifelong liberal democrat. He donated money to Hillary. His pick for treasury secretary is a leftist donor. He cozied up to the RNC establishment to get exactly what he wanted. He has absolutely no morals or principles other than making deals and stroking his ego. He won’t stand for conservatives values. He ran a very divisive campaign based on division politics. He has flipped flopped on so many issues you don’t really know what he stands for.  He doesn’t act presidential, and it’s hard to take him serious as a candidate.

And before the fear based statements start of “Well then Hillary will win if you don’t vote for Trump” Or “you’re supporting Hillary by not voting for Trump,” that’s absolutely NOT true. Each person is free to vote their conscience and should do so. My vote is who I’m supporting. Regardless of numbers. I predict this two party system majority will change in the next 15-25 years. It’s starting with me and a lot of other people not voting for Trump “because we’re supposed to.”

I honestly believe that Trump cannot beat Hillary. I’ve done a lot of research. He doesn’t have the numbers, the ground game, the money, or the will to beat her. His campaign has been awful. He’s losing this election all by himself regardless of me not voting for him.  Unless some major shift in the world happens he won’t beat her. I’d put good money on it.

If the only reason your voting for Trump is to not get Hillary, I can understand and respect that (even if I think it’s a narrow approach). My issue comes from people and groups that I respect who are throwing out their morals and compromising their beliefs and convictions to support Trump. People who wouldn’t vote for Romney because he was a Mormon are promoting Donald Trump– a man who admittedly has said he doesn’t need to ask for God’s forgiveness. The way he has lived his life and the stories of his business practices truly show his character (or lack there of). There’s also that sticky point of “past performance is the best indicator of future performance.” Do you really expect him to change? Do you expect him not to “sell out” or “make deals”? Whatever that means to you.

Anyways, I can’t in good conscience vote for someone like that who is such a wild card.

Issue two:  The Republican Party.

As someone who considers myself a libertarian leaning conservative, I’m tired of the Republican party. I’m tired of being told that “this is the most important election ever!” , “If you don’t support the Republican in this race, the Democrats will win and crap all over your ideas/beliefs/agenda/etc!”

Newsflash: It’s not the most important election ever. The country will continue to exist and move on. Many Republicans I supported ended up selling me out and moving forward with Democratic policies anyways. I will no longer participate in generic support of Republicans because they can do some good 8% of the time, while compromising 92% of the time. We deserve better. I’m tired of conservatives being sold out for years and years. I’m tired of being angry, feeling cheated, etc. I’m just not going to play that game anymore. I’m done with them.

With the circus that the Republican party has become this last year, I think they are on their way out anyways. Just like the Whigs. It’s only a matter of time.

But the “platform” the Republicans just passed is very conservative you might argue. I truly believe the “platform” is just lip service to keep leading people along who think that there is still a chance to reform and do some good in the Republican party. (i.e., most conservatives and evangelicals) I maybe 10% agree with the idea that some good can still be done, but the odds are stacked heavily against it. The Republicans (as a party, not necessarily all individuals) don’t give 2 craps about their platform. Mark it down, they will go against it and pass legislation in the next year that completely defies it. And people will still defend them for one reason or another. I GUARANTEE IT.

There will still be specific candidates that I will support who will have a R in front of their name. But they will be the exception and not the rule.
No candidate or party is owed my allegiance by default. They must convince me to give them my vote.

Only God can save our nation. Not the fear of a Hillary Clinton administration.

I don’t know who I’m going to vote for this Presidential election. I know it won’t be Hillary or Trump. I’ll continue to do research and make the best informed decision I can that agrees with my conscience. I hope you will do the same. Think and vote for yourself. Not because your favorite channel favors so and so, not because your parents, friends, mentor, preacher, boss, spouse, etc tell you that you should vote for someone. Take all their advice in with a grain of salt and think for yourself and then decide. That freedom is what makes our country great.

Later,
Derek

Some light reference material if your interested. There are plenty more examples out there. Here are just a few.
http://www.npr.org/2016/02/28/467961962/sick-of-political-parties-unaffiliated-voters-are-changing-politics

https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/05/gutless-gop-insiders-sold-you-out-again

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/opinion/dump-the-gop-for-a-grand-new-party.html?_r=0


http://gos.sbc.edu/j/jorgensen.html


http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/15/the-gop-sell-out-continues/


http://www.fitsnews.com/2015/10/23/house-conservatives-ripped-for-selling-out-to-gop-establishment/


http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/Republicans-spending-bill/2015/12/18/id/706463/


http://www.pewforum.org/2016/07/13/evangelicals-rally-to-trump-religious-nones-back-clinton/


http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-exploits-progressive-morality-1465486485


http://www.epm.org/blog/2016/Mar/21/donald-trump-character


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/evangelical-christians-are-selling-out-faith-for-politics/2016/06/23/f03368de-3964-11e6-8f7c-
d4c723a2becb_story.html


https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/07/voter-fraud-is-now-an-inalienable-right


http://www.redstate.com/leon_h_wolf/2016/07/15/gop-isnt-worth-saving/


http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435743/donald-trump-or-hillary-clinton-never-trump-people-dont-have-choose


http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-on-god-i-dont-like-to-have-to-ask-for-forgiveness-2016-1


http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/donald-trump-scandals/474726/


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html

Soldier Suicides

Today I had the displeasure of attending another funeral of a soldier in my unit that committed suicide. That’s the 2nd one in less than a year. Honestly, it’s an awful experience. If I never have to watch another mother bawl her eyes out for her child that is gone while hearing taps, I’d be ok with that. Sadly, I’m afraid it won’t be the last time I will have to go through this. As hard as it is for me and my fellow soldiers who were his friends, I can’t imagine what sorrow and pain the family is going through. I pray they will find comfort in this awful season of their lives.

There are not many answers. Mostly there are questions.
What signs did I miss?
What could I have done differently?
How did I not see this coming?
What can I do to prevent the next one?
Why is suicide so prevalent in the military?

Like I said, I don’t have the answers. However, I have a few suggestions.

  • Pray for your soldiers.
  • Be involved in their lives.
  • Ask them how they are doing. Then Ask them How they are REALLY doing and then be prepared to listen for as long as needed.
  • Offer to walk beside them through whatever demons or difficulties they are facing.
  • Confront them directly but gently in love if you feel or notice that something is not right.
  • Don’t just send them links to resources. Walk with them hand in hand to counseling, therapy, a chaplain or preacher.

If you know a soldier who is struggling through some rough times in their life, please check on them.

If you are alone and feeling suicidal, please know that there are people out there who care about you and love you. You have friends, family, co-workers, even total strangers that love and care for you. Your life is precious. Please don’t be afraid to call and ask for help. There is no shame in admitting you are human and that sometimes life really really sucks and you don’t know how to go own. There are no problems that can’t be overcome with teamwork. Please reach out to someone. Call me and I will be glad to help in any way I can. Call one of these numbers if you feel like anybody you know personally can’t understand. Sometimes talking to a total stranger can help the healing begin.
1-800-273-TALK
1-800-784-2433

Every life is precious and I pray for anyone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Please know that we love and care about you. I hope we can make progress as a human race in dealing with this issue of suicide.

-Derek

Writing More Better (Often)

I keep mentioning the idea of wanting to write more. I definitely feel that I have things I can contribute to the world. Some of that is through writing. I’m a creative person naturally and love to create ideas, videos, music, etc. I tend to hesitate to create because it involves putting your ideas out there and waiting to see if people like/understand/approve of it. This fear and hesitation has held me back quite often from putting my creative things out into the world. So I’m working to overcome this and start creating more. I’m moving towards the attitude of not caring about your opinion of my work. If you like it, great! Share it, comment on it, etc. If you don’t like it, that’s ok too. When you create passionately, you are going to get people who don’t care for your work, don’t like it, don’t agree with it, etc. But at least you are being authentic to the creative process.

In short, I’m going to try and write a lot more. I’ve got thoughts, ideas, and opinions to share and I’m going to attempt to make them coherent, articulate and interesting. I’m going to try to avoid just name calling and mud-slinging with ideas or people I disagree with.

I have many ideas and projects in the development phase. I’ve actually decided to challenge myself to writing a book. I have two ideas. One for fiction and one for non-fiction. I’m already 4 chapters into writing the non-fiction book. It’s way harder than I ever thought it would be. But it’s exciting.

Stay tuned for more future content.

Later,
Derek

Leadership

I thought I knew what leadership was. I’ve even thought I exhibited it occasionally. I know the definition of it. I’ve seen both great examples of it and poor examples of it during my time in the army.

Tonight I saw the finest example of it in my life. I watched from the back of the funeral home as my friend walked his two children up to the casket to see their mom resting peacefully. He explained that even though she looked like she was only sleeping that she was gone. I watched him do all this and keep his composure. He held it together for his children as I cried from the back of the room wandering if I could ever be that strong for people I love.

I know that he is hurting more than the rest of us. I know his children may not fully understand. I know that he has cried and will cry again when he’s ready.

But I watched him be a leader. Not only in this small window of time, but ever since the diagnosis. He stood by his wife through thick and thin. He loves his boys and would do anything for them. I witnessed him be a leader and a father in a situation where I feel that I would most likely run away. I know he will continue to lead his two boys as a great father and that there will be joy and happiness in future days. I know he will keep going.

This is my new definition of leadership. When the whole world has come crumbling down on you, when you have nothing left to give, when every moment is full of pain and sadness, you drive on for those you love. One step at a time, one breath at a time, one moment at a time. You keep going because of love. Not because you want to, or because you have more to give, you keep going no matter how empty you are because of love.

My heart aches with Jeff in this difficult time. No words can replace your loss.

But in this dark time, you have truly taught me something my friend. You have taught me how to be a leader. May I never forget it.

-Derek

Intentional Living

It’s January 1st. Time for silly new years resolutions posts. Ha. I’m not gonna do that. But I will talk about a concept I feel I’ve started to understand in 2015.

Intentional living.

I define it as follows: Living life with a purpose and goals. Making things happen in your life, instead of waiting for or reacting to things happening to you.

You can sit back and be reactionary in your life and complain about the circumstances and situations that come your way, or you can work hard, be intentional and do your best to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. Basically not having a victim or entitlement mentality. Life is hard, the economy sucks, etc. I get it. I really do. But really you only have two choices. Roll over and die (slowly) or take it head on. No one owes you anything. Not the government, not your family, not your job, and not your friends. Anything you get from any of those is just a blessing. You’re not guaranteed anything and you shouldn’t expect anything. Man that sounds depressing right?

However, in 2015, I feel that I’ve started to learn a little bit about this. Some of the intentional things I’ve been able to achieve this last year are as follows.

I’ve really gotten a handle on budgeting and being intentional with my money. We’ve paid off over 32k of debt and are almost debt free.
I completed my Masters degree.
I obtained my CCNA certification.
I obtained a VMware certification.
I traveled internationally for my company and had many successful business trips.
I dropped 23 lbs and kept if off for six months.

Am I perfect? No. Do I have it all together? Not quite yet. But I plan to take this mindset and keep going further in 2016. I wrote a list of over 15 specific goals a few weeks ago for 2016. They are specific and measurable. I’ve created a spreadsheet to track them. Will I achieve all of them? I don’t know. But I’m going to give it a shot. They are at least a road map of goals to shoot for during the year. Better than not having a plan.

Some of the things on my list include:

Continuing to improve my diet and adding exercise into my regular routine. (7 days straight so far!)
Reading at least 5 self-improvement books.
Obtaining one or two certifications this year.
Getting a raise at work.

Those are just a few of my goals for 2016. I also have goals that are 2 -5 years out as well as family and career goals to hit by age 40. I’d rather have a plan and shoot for my goals than just see what happens. Will things happen that are out of my control? Sure. Will my plans and goals change and adapt to the circumstances that life brings my way? Absolutely.

So think about how you can be intentional with your life this year instead of just reacting to things. Write down your goals and go after them hardcore! The only thing stopping you is the person in the mirror.

Hit me up if you have any questions regarding this idea of intentional living. I’d be glad to talk more about it with you.

I hope you have a great year in 2016 and may your year be intentional!

Later,
Derek