As a boy of 10 my Cub Scout den attended a political rally in our small military community in which John Kennedy spoke as a Presidential candidate. Kennedy acknowledged our presence and as he departed reached out to touch outstretched hands. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to someone who actually became President. As a president, Kennedy inspired the youth of my generation as no other president in my lifetime, not even Reagan. He called us to serve and to fight for freedom and justice; American youth accepted that challenge.

Fast forward another dozen years, post-Vietnam service and attending college. Quite liberal about many things, bitter about a lost war, I worked for democrats, believed in most liberal ideas but began to notice I no longer fit; as a party the democrats abandoned the ideals of Kennedy. They blamed the troops for the loss of the war as they abandoned the Vietnamese to their fate, cutting off ammunition and fuel supplies at the end in the face of massive reinforcement of the North Vietnamese by the Russians and Chinese communists. The Democrat-controlled Congress in 1975 prohibited any further expenditures supporting the South Vietnamese military even as South Vietnamese military unit after unit was overrun by a massive communist military invasion of the South. Mass panic ensued with chaos on the ground, millions of people fled in small boats and anything that could float or fly to escape certain persecution or worse.

On April 30, 1975 South Vietnam collapsed and a communist flag flew over Saigon. In neighboring Cambodia the communist Khmer Rouge began wholesale slaughter of those deemed ideologically defective; when it was over nearly two million Cambodians were dead. In South Vietnam hundreds of thousands were executed and approximately a million sent to concentration camps for years. America abandoned an ally and 58,000 dead as a shocked world watched the beginning of America’s global retreat.

In 1976, to my undying shame, I fell for the siren song played by Jimmy Carter supporting his presidential bid. He was supposed to be different but he was a fraud, incompetent and worse. By 1978, I had witnessed a political party transformed from within from a party strong on defending freedom and speaking for working men and women to a political party dominated by an extreme left-wing ideological core that disparaged America, Americans and our history.

In 1979 I had had enough and abandoned the democrats. Our military had fallen apart, military morale was subterranean and the Russians openly engaged in aggression without any effective American response.

Meanwhile, the democrats adopted the most extreme positions on social issues, such as abortion, first by labeling it a matter of “choice” and helping women out of difficult circumstances to one that now unabashedly supports abortion up to the moment of delivery. Any effort to circumscribe that position via law is fiercely resisted and when successful, struck down by sympathetic federal judges appointed by democrats. America now has the most liberal abortion laws in the world with the democrats even supporting the denial of medical care to infants that survive this barbaric practice. The body-count now exceeds 55 million children executed in the womb since 1973.

The attacks on social norms of society continues unabated, usually under the mantle of fairness, social justice or civil rights while the rights of others are trampled; women no longer have a “right to privacy” as established by the pro-abortion decision in 1973, that right is now subsumed under the politically correct notion of “gender identity” imposing mandatory gender-integrated restroom and gym locker-room facilities.

Democrats now openly disparage the Bill of Rights, especially the protections guaranteed under the First Amendment, demanding that political speech, religious belief and especially the right to “the free exercise of religion” be subordinated to the demands of government. They’ve waged unrelenting war on the right of the law-abiding to exercise their Second Amendment right to possess and use firearms, rendering that unalienable right meaningless by a morass of regulations designed to entrap the law abiding, reclassifying them as “criminals” while career criminals continue their carnage unabated.

Democrat-controlled legislatures bury communities and individuals under avalanches of regulations, taxes and unaccountable, often arrogant government agencies that destroy initiative, private enterprise and blame free markets for every social ill while increasing the power of the state over their lives.

Every major city has been controlled by democrats for sixty or more years turning our cities into ungovernable wastelands, abandoned by businesses and anyone who could escape, imprisoning minorities into lives of perpetual poverty, crime, hopelessness and resentment.

Under President Obama, America’s global retreat became doctrine. We now face existential threats from Russia, China and soon, Iran and North Korea; diplomatic humiliation is commonplace. The party of “retreat and defeat” has nearly accomplished its mission of destroying America from within. That’s why I’m no longer a democrat.

Al Fonzi, Chairman, Republican Party, SLO County