My turn: Parties no longer matter

As we recently sat on the balcony of his rented condo overlooking Lake Conroe near Houston, my brother and lifelong Republican Bud Sloan surprised me by saying that he was now an Indepen-dent.

I asked why.

"Social issues mostly," he said. "Also an erosion of some of our basic freedoms under the Bush administration. I think the greatest threat to the kind of America in which I want to live is the 'Religious Right' telling me how to live. They profess to value freedom of religion, but the only religious freedom they are tolerant of is their own."

The Reno, Nev., resident said that neither party truly cares about middle-class Americans. "The middle class is shrinking while the very rich and the very poor are growing. I just feel that the Republicans care less."

Bud, the eldest of my three older brothers — which includes Christians, atheists and probable millionaires — says that his next vote will be based mostly on the economy, national security and foreign policy.

"I feel that the Republicans have done as bad, or worse, in the past 15 to 20 years than the Democrats. Look at the growth in the size of government and the deficit under Bush."

He notes that Clinton actually had a surplus, while Nixon and Reagan excelled on foreign policy.

"I may sound like a 'flaming liberal,' but in our legal system the deck is still stacked against the poor and minorities. And, it is getting worse."

Wendel Sloan can be reached at:

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