I am a conservative Republican. I believe in traditional values, I believe in (extremely) limited government, I believe in free markets, and I believe in personal responsibility.
I was raised by my liberal father, who thinks Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism” is a real solution. We’ve agreed to disagree. Growing up, I was always involved in politics – my grandfather managed a few campaigns, my grandmother volunteered and did fundraisers, and when I was asked to be in parades to hand out stickers, my 10-year-old self didn’t think twice. Every morning my dad drove my siblings and I to school; we’d listen to the news on the radio, and every night we ate dinner as a family and talked about what we had learned. In 2008 I voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama in my school’s mock election, but in 2012, I wasn’t so sure. November rolled around and I sat in front of the television, watching the votes pour in and thinking to myself, “if Romney wins, would it be so bad?”
I guess you could say I got swept up in the tea party movement. In 2013, I created an anonymous Twitter account to explore my own thoughts. Dad always taught me to think for myself, but doing it out loud was intimidating. I couldn’t defend beliefs that I wasn’t even sure I held. I encountered a community of people who encouraged my thinking, and I soon found myself taking firm root on the right side of politics. In 2014 I involved myself in a few political organizations, but was sure to keep it separate from “real life.” When I attended my first CPAC, I only told my dad I was going a week beforehand when I realized I’d need a note to be excused from class. After CPAC, I was sold. I began making friends in the conservative movement, and decided to get more and more involved with organizations that shared my values. Here I am today, explaining it all.
So, why bother explaining all of this?
“[Trump’s] bad qualities have nothing to do with why I won’t cast my ballot for him.”
Because I am not voting for Donald Trump. It’s important for you to know that, yes, I am a Republican, and no, I am not voting for the republican nominee. Before you get on your Never Hillary high-horse, let me explain. My decision is not about Donald Trump himself, though I find him to be vile. I detest both candidates. I am absolutely Never Hillary, and I consider myself to be Never Trump, but his bad qualities have nothing to do with why I won’t cast my ballot for him.
I won’t vote for Donald Trump because I put my faith in principles, not in a political party. I won’t vote for Mr. Trump because I understand that simply voting for the republican nominee year after year is how we get into predicaments such as this one, where a minority feels they are represented and the majority is left scratching their heads, wondering how they got there and what to do next. Some will strive for party unity and vote the nominee against their better judgement, and some will take a look at their values and decide it is better for them to step back and seek representation elsewhere. I am of the latter belief. For the time being, the party is split in two, and it’s uncertain whether or not the two sides will make amends post-election. This knowledge brings me back to my thoughts in 2012: “would it be so bad?”
“The party is split in two, and it’s uncertain whether or not the two sides will make amends post-election.”
Those who begrudgingly vote Trump have decided “I don’t like him, but I will vote for him.” Like so many single women in their thirties, they have caved to societal pressure and settled. Those on the other side have announced “I don’t like him, so I will find someone I do like.” To me, conservatism is about being unwavering in principal. If the party splits, it is because those who are of the same opinion as I have felt an ideological difference between the two sides.
It’s not a single issue on which we are divided – that is bound to happen. This difference runs deeper than that as Republicans on both sides of the quarrel may share exactly the same values from plank to plank, but without agreeing on when to defend these values in practice vs only in theory, the platform is not complete. Mr Trump has demonstrated over and over that he does not share our values, and Never Trump isn’t having it. The nomination of Donald Trump has effectively sawed the party platform in half and told its constituency: “choose where you stand.” Those who refuse to vote Trump have not “jumped ship,” and left the party, they simply stand on the side that is willing to fight. Those who remain are not. So is this ideological difference really enough to split the party in two? That’s not a question I’m willing to answer on behalf of the whole, but to me, yes.
Those willing to vote Donald Trump have shown that the values they have are not as important as winning the election. They justify it to themselves by saying, “we cannot spread this idea of freedom unless we win.” However, that notion is false. Liberty is more important than compromise, especially when in that compromise you give up what you stood for to begin with. We cannot spread the idea of freedom if we allow those who are opposed to it to represent us.
It’s not about Trump, it’s about priorities. That’s why I am a Republican though – I am willing to vote otherwise for the sake of my values. Though I am a Republican, I am willing not to be.