I grew up a proud Republican. I was a Reagan baby. Political discussions and patriotic fever were a part of every day life. My community growing up consisted of conservatives and one socialist. As a young girl I thought that “rush hour” denoted when Rush Limbaugh was on the radio. Democrats and Independents were unknown to me except by their portrayal in media for much of my childhood.
When I went to college I benefited from interacting with others from a wide pool of political thought. I learned that Democrats were not the evil caricatures that had been painted in the radical conservative media. I enjoyed discussing differences of opinions and learning to respect that behind those differences lay the common goal of betterment for our fellow citizens. We had different ideas on how that goal was attained but in many ways I felt as though we were on the same side. We were all Americans after all.
I went through college and the next several years still believing in compassionate, reasonable conservatism. For me it was not just a concept. I had seen it lived out in the example of my parents who took in a single mom and her three children when I was a little girl. At that time we ourselves were poor. My parents had four kids of their own to feed, clothe and take care of, but they made room in their hearts for four more people to come under their roof.
My father has always been generous and giving to organizations and individuals in order to help those who are struggling. He was the one who taught me that conservative values always included taking care of the poor, that our leaders were there to serve the people, that tax-cuts don’t work unless you keep spending down.
(That’s why, he will rant, the Bush tax-cuts didn’t work, because he didn’t cut spending. George W is not a true conservative in our household.)
Though my liberal and independent friends would maintain that conservatism was incompatible with compassion and reason I always believed that they, like I, had formed a narrow view of what conservatives were like based of the caricatures portrayed in media. Even as I despaired over Sean Hannity’s lapse from genial, fun news anchor to bitter, rude, disrespectful and obnoxious radio host, I held out hope. When Ann Coulter would speak in crass and harsh statements aimed at entertainment, I held out hope. I held out hope even when the craziness of our party surfaced in the Birthers movement.
I held out hope until this election season.
I have watched the Republican nomination process with growing dismay and disgust, nearly switching my registration to Independent. I am going to hold out in what used to be the Grand Old Party, because I want to vote against Trump in the Pennsylvania primary. Whether I remain a Republican after that depends on what happens with the convention.
In the meantime I wonder: what has happened to the Republican party? Has it always been this way, and I just didn’t know because I had parents who lived out strong values? What do Republicans even stand for anymore besides traditional marriage, pro-life, gun rights and national defense? Are those the only policies we care about? Why is it that only the Democrats talk about social justice, equality, and stewardship?
And I wonder…why have we as a party, and a nation, decided that entertainment and verbal brawling, (and, to my great horror, physical brawling) is more important than a civil, reasonable, passionate exchange of ideas and policies? Why do we refuse to work with each other, listen to each other, or entertain the possibility that sometimes those across the aisle from us are right?
I have no idea.
I know many of my friends and the country have found candidates that they are excited about, and I am glad for them. But I am confused and conflicted about my options. As I watch what the nomination unfold I wonder what will I do in the general election?
It’s clear that the Republican party is becoming (or already is) something I cannot be apart of.
But I cannot become a Democrat either. While I appreciate their perspective on many things, and agree with them on a few things, I still am not convinced that their solutions will work.
I still want to believe that a smaller, leaner government is best. But I know that the mainstream Republicans who have been in control pre-Trump are a huge part of the reason that government is bloated and for much of the injustice that has occurred in Wall-Street.
The faction of Republicans that are flocking to Trump are anti-establishment, sure, but I clearly cannot join them. (Now I’m starting to sound like Vizinni from the Princess Bride) I cannot aline with people who have decided to look for scapegoats to vent their anger and frustration on. I cannot be apart of a party that doesn’t vet their leaders. I can’t follow a man who has displayed nothing but contempt for pretty much every one and a bloated ego.
I’ll confess that I even looked voting for Bernie Sanders if he would win the Democratic nomination. I believe wholeheartedly that he is one of the most caring politicians we have running, that he genuinely desires to serve the people and fix the corruption in Washington. But while I agree with the heart of his message, I am concerned about the policies. I don’t think they’ll work and I still believe in small government, at least I want to…. I don’t think I can vote for someone just because they mean well.
Some have suggested that I become a libertarian as we hold to the same view that government should be small. But I clearly cannot choose them, because in opinion they go too far and take away the power of the government to fulfill the roles that God has created it to perform.
My only other option would be to vote for a third party, assuming there is a good third party candidate.
Unless Trump somehow doesn’t win the Republican nomination and we go to a brokered convention. If that happens there is a hope that I can still vote for a Republican in the general election, but can I trust the establishment to put in a candidate that will be any good?
I am like Vizinni with goblets of wine placed before me. One poisoned with Iocane powder. Which do I choose? Who do I vote for? Like Vizinni I ponder and prattle trying to ascertain which goblet I pick up, which button I push. Which one will be best for our country? And like Vizinni I have been duped. Both goblets are poisoned. And likely any other options are poisoned as well, as corruption seems to be the only thing that is bipartisan in our government these days.
That’s why I seriously joke about writing in my Dad for President in the General Election. I don’t agree one hundred percent with him on every political issue, but he is a thoughtful, compassionate, logical, considerate and almost always reasonable man who has faithfully served his community for as long as I’ve known him.
Honestly, that is the type of character I want my president to have at the foundation of all their policies.
Dad for President 2016.