For years, I’ve been a strong believer in the notion that if you’re a Republican, or merely a conservative-leaning individual who understands the damage caused by liberal policies, you’re doing yourself and the country a disservice if you don’t vote for the Republican presidential nominee every four years.
Like many Republican voters, I rarely end up with the nominee I want. In 2012, I initially favored Rick Perry and later found myself drawn to Newt Gingrich. Four years earlier, I strongly supported Rudy Giuliani (even volunteering for his campaign). I think all three of these men would have made great presidents, but in the end, I sucked it up and lent my support (and my votes) to John McCain and Mitt Romney.
My reasoning was simple: They were decent men who far better represented my interests, and a more promising future for the country, than their Democratic counterpart. It wasn’t so much about party loyalty, as it was a choice between two different directions.
A number of conservatives disagree with my voting philosophy.
Some stayed home on election day in 2008 and 2012 because they didn’t believe, in each case, that the Republican nominee was sufficiently conservative. The actual number of these voters has been vastly overstated by many people (mostly conservative pundits), but the estimated 1.5 million members of the electorate that did fall into this category in 2012 shouldn’t be ignored. Neither should the right-leaning voters who bought into Democratic wedge-issues like the War on Women and class envy, or in 2008, embraced the historical significance of the first black president.
As is the case with both major political parties (or any campaign for that matter) united we stand, divided we fall. It’s a tenet I wholeheartedly subscribe to.
That being said, I cannot in good faith, and in the best interests of me, my family, and my country, vote for Donald Trump in November, should he become the Republican party’s nominee.
It’s not because I’m not impressed with Mr. Trump’s campaign. On the contrary. He’s achieved amazing things throughout this primary. He entered the race last summer with single-digit support, and was interpreted by nearly everyone as a joke-candidate whose application was merely part of some elaborate publicity stunt. He went on to become the Republican front-runner, a spot he’s remained in for several months while only growing his support. He continues to have a strong, impressive lead in both national and state primary polls, and though his nomination is by no means inevitable, the odds of him taking it are firmly in his favor.
Beyond all of those feats, however, the one I find most astounding and historically momentous (especially in light of the sharp liberal slant our country has taken over the past seven years) is how his nomination (should he take it) will make it impossible for me to vote for the Republican presidential candidate this year. That would truly be an extraordinary achievement — one that I cannot stress enough the personal significance of.
Now, before you start screaming “establishment”, or accuse me of being happy with the status quo of our political landscape, let me assure that I’m not. If that hasn’t been clear enough in my columns, I’ll elaborate now: I would certainly cast a general-election vote for Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, or Ted Cruz — the other “outsider” candidates, both past and present. Even if I didn’t believe they stood a chance of winning, they’d get my vote.
I’m also not a conservative purist. I never have been. I just want someone who’s at least guided by conservative principles like small government, personal responsibility, and individual freedom. No one’s ever going to strike all the right tones with me. I accept that.
I was even willing to hear out Donald Trump. Despite his liberal past and my suspicions of his intentions, I wanted him to lay out a case for why he would make an acceptable president. Believe me, I can be swayed. Back in 2009, I listened to fellow billionaire Steve Wynn (a Democrat) talk about the country’s economic woes with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. He was brilliant, and put forth some impressive ideas. I remember thinking afterward that Wynn might actually make one hell of a good president.
Unfortunately, Trump has never sounded like Wynn during this campaign. Not even close. His platform and conduct have been just as big of a slap in the face for me, my family, and my country as Hillary Clinton’s has. I cannot sign on to that. I cannot sacrifice my dignity for a man that has none. I cannot compromise my most basic principles for a man who is completely unprincipled.
I didn’t battle against Obamacare, lose my insurance plan, lose my doctor, and watch my friends suffer under higher premium costs than their home mortgages, just to vote for someone who wants single-payer (or at minimum an even larger role for government in our healthcare).
I haven’t been pushing for entitlement reform for years, as a mechanism for addressing our national debt, just to vote for someone who says they won’t change entitlements, and offers no serious plan for the debt. My kids’ future is too important to me.
I didn’t listen for years to all of that infuriating, conspiratorial nonsense from Michael Moore, Code Pink, and 9/11 Truthers, just to vote for someone who not only spews the same rhetoric (at the expense of thousands of dead Americans), but pushes additional conspiracy theories at will.
I haven’t for years criticized President Obama’s naive (and extremely damaging) foreign policy decisions, just to vote for someone who can’t for the life of him express any knowledge on the topic, beyond saying that he’s going to put in charge people who know what they’re doing.
I haven’t donated to wounded warrior causes, and made it a habit to respectfully walk up to veterans and thank them for their service, just to vote for someone who finds it perfectly acceptable to mock American POWs.
I haven’t watched people close to me face the challenges of birth-defect health concerns, just to vote for someone who thinks it’s funny to mock such individuals’ disabilities.
Calling women bimbos, and musing over their menstrual cycles. Comparing rivals to child molesters. Threatening journalists. Making up stories to vilify religions. It goes on and on.
For as flawed as our country is, and as low as the bar has been set for its leadership, there has to be a point where simply having the correct party initial at the end of one’s name, and spouting out a few angry slogans, isn’t enough to earn the reward of someone’s vote. Donald Trump, through an enormous amount of effort on his part, has helped me realize this.
I’ll either end up supporting a third-party candidate or writing-in a name on my ballot (contingent on Trump becoming the nominee of course). I can figure that out later. Hopefully, I won’t have to figure it out at all. Either way, I intend to have a voice in this election, come November. If I’m forced to stray off the reservation to get it, I’m willing to live with the results.