How the GOP Lost Me Forever.
When I was younger, I was religious and conservative. I was a reliable GOP voter from the first election I could vote in: 1992’s presidential race. I proudly cast my absentee ballot for George HW Bush, and then again four years later for Bob Dole. I voted for GOP senators, congressmen, and state representatives. I voted twice for George W Bush.
I always had trouble with some of the GOP’s social platforms. Despite being religious and conservative, I never cared about the gay marriage issue much. It seemed to me that as long as my church wasn’t being forced to conduct gay marriages, the government had a responsibility to be neutral. But the issue also wasn’t high on my list.
As a teenager and young adult, I was pro-life, and that mattered a bit to me. But as time went on I started thinking that, if it wasn’t my child, it wasn’t my business. And while I still wish there were some way to consider paternal interests in the matter of abortion, I can’t figure one out. Biology isn’t fair, so the law shouldn’t pretend that potential fathers have the same rights as potential mothers. It’s complex, and I don’t have the answers.
But I was squarely in the GOP camp on issues of economics and taxes. I was opposed to affirmative action, favoring instead policies that would make it one day unnecessary. I tended to favor corporate interests over environmental ones, because I saw them as human interests: if the corporations can’t prosper, they won’t hire people.
I generally agreed with the idea that the government should have less power, and that local governments were better at representing the interests of their constituents compared with larger, broader governmental entities. I hoped to see federal power diminished, and regulation decreased. The GOP – while far from perfect – was better on those issues than the Democrats were.
Things began to change. As I became more sophisticated in my own thinking, and I was influenced by some thoughtful democrats, I began to see the GOP’s social policies as being very big-government. Deciding who can marry, who can receive what type of healthcare. Not only were they wrong on these issues, they were hypocritical – standing opposed to their own nominal platform of limited government.
Cracks began to show in their economic policies too: global climate change is going to be a disaster for world economies, food security, and migration. A conservative party should be preparing assiduously for these things, to mitigate the effects – and if they cannot be prevented, to plan carefully for how to manage them. But the GOP instead has its fingers in its ears, pretending against all evidence that it’s not happening.
But even then, one of the major issues I cared (and still care) about was the American military. A famous old quote I’ve always loved is: “No institution in the history of the world has done more to advance the cause of peace in its time than the United States Marine Corps.” I believe that. The Pax Americana that has now lasted some 70 years has, despite well-publicized military actions in many places, been one of the most peaceful times in human history. A human being has never been less likely to be killed in or by international belligerence. Ever.
But now, the GOP has nominated a man for president that seems to think that the US military – the greatest engine for world security ever assembled – should abandon its commitments to our allies, conduct his personal vendettas, and commit acts of unconscionable war crime. He has mused horrifyingly about the first-strike use of nuclear weapons absent any reasonable cause for their deployment.
In nominating Trump, the GOP has abandoned its pretense at morality. It has disgraced its claim at being the party of limited government. It has shed its costume of geopolitical prudence and restraint. It has demonstrated that it has no concept of protecting American interests at home or abroad. It has shown it is contemptuous of the very founding documents that conservatives cherish. And it has precipitously flirted with demolishing the greatest achievement any nation can aspire to: centuries of peaceful transition of power.
Even for all that, I might still have been tempted to vote GOP in down-ballot events because I believe that functionally, a divided government requires compromise and negotiation. But the GOP has plainly stated that their only negotiation tactics are refusal, and filibuster. They are not a political party in any sense of the word: politics is the practice of advancing a coherent agenda.
And so, like millions in Generation X, I am formally abandoning the GOP forever. They are unfit to serve in any capacity. They have abrogated all responsibility to the safety, security, and nourishment of the American people. They have collapsed into frenzied throng of hate and fear, lashing out not only at the stability of the country, but at basic human decency.
There is no redemption to be had here. The party must be excused from service.