My Point of View: Explaining a philosophical and political evolution

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Point of View by Ebenezer Howe

Alden resident Ebenezer Howe is chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the local party members.

This is the first My Point of View column for me. As you are soon to learn, writing was never my day job (or night or afternoon.) I thought it might be best to introduce myself and try to explain my political evolution and philosophy, as I have not always been a Republican.

Ebenezer Howe

Ebenezer Howe

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I was born here in Albert Lea at Naeve Hospital, grew up on the family farm in Alden Township, graduated from Alden-Conger High School and then was gone for 40 years before returning in January 2002. During the 40 years of nonresidency, I attempted college, was in the Navy and had a 35-year career with Burroughs and Unisys.

I grew up in a Democratic home — Mom was close to socialist and Dad voted Democrat but talked conservative or liberty leaning. On visits home, there were some interesting table conversations, frequently loud.

My first presidential election could have been Johnson-Goldwater in 1964, but I ended up not voting. At the time I was in the Navy going to Aviation Fire Control School, studying hard trying to be class honor man to win choice of duty station. I had applied for and received an absentee ballot. Some of us discussed the election at breaks, and I was planning on voting for Johnson. During one discussion I repeated what I had heard on the news the evening before and a Marine private said “No! That is not what Goldwater said.” (There may have been additional expletives used.) The next day he produced a newspaper with what Goldwater had said in quotes. I realized that what someone says someone else said, may not be exactly what was said. That day I chose not to send back the absentee ballot because an 18-year-old Marine, who could not yet vote and had to survive one year in Vietnam before he could use his training, took time to read the papers and study the election and I had not. (On first visit to the Vietnam Memorial Wall I verified his name was not there.)

In 1968 I voted for Hubert Humphrey and was just devastated when Nixon won. But Wednesday and Thursday and then the weekend happened, and we even had Thanksgiving and Christmas after that loss. Another thing I remembered about that election was the very large IBM mechanical vote tabulator and all those other down ballot races that I had not studied. Every election since, I go to the polls with a written list of who I vote for, and it really speeds up the actual ballot-marking part.

I was a second level product support person from 1974 through 1978 and then again from 1987 through 2001, some flying and a lot of riding in cars. Opportunities for discussions with folks from a vast range of perspectives followed by lots of time to reflect while driving home or to the next problem. During the 1976 election cycle, welfare reform was a hot topic. I solved that one night while driving from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, to Duluth. I might share that solution with someone before I achieve room temperature.

After the 1986 election I got out all the old who-I-voted-for papers and discovered I had not voted for a Democrat in the last three elections. I was not all that happy with the Republicans either. I think it was 1992 when I first listened to a hate radio program. I love to tell folks I would like Limbaugh if he wasn’t such a flaming liberal. I stumbled onto the Republican liberty caucus in 1995, and after reading their statement of principles, I had found my home. You can find them at under the “About” drop down menu. The RLC is a 527 voluntary membership organization dedicated to working within the Republican Party to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets.

At the 1996 Dakota County Fair, I talked to a volunteer at the Republican booth. He took my name and phone number and then called and invited me to the ’97 off-year convention. I’ve been hooked since.

The following quote, part of my email signature, says a lot about how I feel: “We are friends of liberty everywhere, guarrantors only of our own.” — Thomas Jefferson

Well, that’s my intro. Now to something more fun.

What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial? I’m partial to Humpty Dumpty ones and Melissa McCarthy, Eco-Warrior, saving the planet.