About a week and a half ago, I made a decision that I have been contemplating for some
time – I changed my registered political affiliation away from the Republican Party (which party I switched to is not really the point here. It wasn’t the Democratic Party, by the way. In fact, I am still researching party platforms and their implications before I fully commit. I might even register as an independent, though I doubt it, because I feel that when we work together collectively, we accomplish more). I know that there are many with whom I hold much in common who will criticize this move as abandoning the most conservative major party, or taking my ball and going home when I lose by the rules, or some other such nonsense. So, I thought I’d set the record straight.
After all, the Republican party was the
conservative party, right?
I have been interested in politics since I was eleven years old. My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Waddell, used the election cycle at the time to teach us about civic duty and political involvement. I can remember students (myself included) carrying signs at campus rallies as they campaigned for their candidate. The year was 1988 and, since my grandmother told me that our family had always been Democrats, I carried a sign for the ill-fated Michael Dukakis. I was hooked. I have followed every presidential election since then with keen interest. By the time the next election cycle arrived, I had decided that I was more a Republican than a Democrat (largely due to my pro-life stance), and I eagerly debated classmates in order to show them why the incumbent President Bush was a better choice than Governor Clinton from Arkansas. I remember campaigning (albeit half-heartedly) for Bob Dole in 1996 and I remember the sweet taste of victory when, in 2000, the candidate I advocated for won for the first time! By this time, my conservative principles were so deeply embedded that I knew I’d be a lifelong Republican. After all, the Republican party was the conservative party, right?
Fast-forward to 2015. By this time, I had been a registered Republican for twenty years. I was astonished as the debate stage was filled with sixteen Republican candidate for President. I remember remarking that this was a sign of how fed-up people were with leftist agendas and the eight-year debacle known as the Obama administration. I felt for sure that the pendulum of public opinion, which had been in eight-year swings from left (Clinton) to right (Bush 2) to left (Obama) was primed and ready to swing back to fiscal conservatism, morally respectable leadership, and national strength (militarily and otherwise).
Over the coming months, I watched as the field narrowed (I was Rubio supporter early on, with Cruz as my second choice). I looked on in amazement as the candidacy of Donald Trump moved from national joke to remote possibility, then to frighteningly possible, then on to apparent inevitability. In stunned disbelief, I watched Republicans, “my people,” voted over and over again to nominate Donald Trump, a candidate whose immorality, rhetoric, misogyny, and lack of policy understanding is nothing less than flabbergasting. Then I watched, equally befuddled, as political and religious leaders I admired endorsed him. Even the president of my alma mater, Jerry Falwell, got behind the man who, to me, is clearly a demagogue, and not fit for our nation’s highest office.
Now, this article is not a treatise on the ineptitude of Trump, nor is it a commentary on Hillary Clinton, whom I feel is equally unfit, albeit for different reasons. This is simply a recounting of the factors that brought me to my ultimate decision. This was not a decision I made lightly, and I don’t begrudge those who think differently their right to vote their consciences. In fact, if they did anything other than voting their conscience, they would not, in my mind, be doing their duty as Americans. What has become apparent to me is that the Republican Party as a whole no longer appears to be representative of the values that I hold. I believe that we ought to put the country before any political party, and that loyalty to a party when it does not represent your values is silly and dangerous.
I still hold out hope that, at the Republican convention next month, our elected representatives will see clearly and put forth a candidate that I can get behind. But, as it stands now, it appears that that it means to be a Republican no longer describes me.
So, like Ronald Regan said about the Democratic Party, and like Charlie Crist and others have echoed recently, I declare that I didn’t leave the Party, it left me.