A Former Republican’s Manifesto (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love my community)

  
I believe that small government is better government, and that federal programs take more money and help fewer people, so I have been a republican.

I believe in the sanctity of life, all life, regardless of age, location, or disability, and that I have no right to take, or support policies which take, the lives of other human beings, so I have been a republican.

I believe that community is best fostered outside of politics and that the best politics encourage and enable citizens to take part to better the lives of their neighbors, and to take care of each other, so I have been a republican.

I believe in personal responsibility and not blaming other people for your problems and that the government is not my daddy, so I have been a republican.

I believe that our government shouldn’t guarantee us anything within our lives but equally stay out of our way in pursuing our individual paths, so I have been a republican.

But I also believe that political parties are a means to an end to present and implement different ideas and ideals to serve the people, not an independent entity to be worshiped, so I am no longer welcome as a republican.

I believe that, on an individual level, we all care about the same problems and disagree on the right solutions, and that an us vs. them attitude does nothing but give rise to megalomaniacs who feed off our discord and encourage our separation.

I believe that fear is a weapon wielded by the power-hungry, and that the power-hungry are never trustworthy. I believe that few politicians care more about my well-being than about being reelected. I believe I should care about myself and my neighbors and elect politicians who will not impede my ability to improve my community.

I believe that there is one God and that he doesn’t look like Donald Trump.

I believe that politics is a means to an end, and that the means must be examined thoroughly to determine if the end is truly worth it. I believe that there are hard decisions in politics, but that not voting for a power-hungry narcissist who freely advertises how much they don’t care about the lives of others, and have well-documented instances of switching positions for political expediency, is not one of them. I believe that when the previous descriptions apply to both main presidential candidates it’s time for me to take my personal responsibility and refuse to be complicit in the downfall of my country.

I also believe in pockets, but that’s irrelevant here. (J/k pockets are ALWAYS relevant).

For many conservatives, the notion of a Hillary Clinton presidency is, and has been for many years, a worst-case-scenario. I am mostly sympathetic to their tepid support of Donald Trump as I share their fear of Hillary. I do not disagree that she would be a disaster of a president on the issues that I care about. I share the horror that she may well (and, if I any longer had any faith in my ability to predict political outcomes, I would state definitively that she WILL) be the next president. But these fears are causing people to do crazy things, such as supporting a Hillary donor who has no substance or coherent policy. You do not get my vote simply because you chose to run with an “R” after your name, and you are not automatically better than Hillary Clinton simply by the nature of not being Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump’s campaign looks like a satire of what democrats think republicans actually believe. Take for instance his position on abortion- a position that changed multiple times over the course of a few days. He actually suggested that women would be punished for having abortions- a view that the pro-life movement has never espoused, but that we are often accused of wanting by the pro-abortion establishment. His statements make a mockery of what the pro-life movement has always stood for, and further underscores that he is not a republican. But who am I to judge? Apparently I am no longer a republican either.

I always appreciated that conservatives didn’t want to blame other people for their problems, but rather wanted opportunities to forge their own path. But the last few years have seen the rise of pundits who do nothing but bash the MSM(excuse me, the LSM) and blame them for the rise of liberalism, instead of taking responsibility for not offering a better path, or fostering ideas amongst ourselves about how to convey our message. Instead, we have become whiners- the very thing we used to decry, all while shielding ourselves from acknowledging the hypocrisy. We have witnessed conservatives beginning to pride themselves on their ignorance and retreating further and further into their own corners, furthering division between neighbors and falling prey to feeling victimized.

The insidious was of his slogan cannot be ignored. To make something great again requires two things: first, that it used to be great? And second, that it no longer is. And why is it no longer great, one may ask? Look no further than the only consistent thing in his campaign: people who don’t look like him. Of course, even the wall he has based his campaign on falls prey to his lack of consistency. How much will it cost? How high will it be? How exactly will it be payed for? Depending on the day the answers vary, but the running theme of our former greatness is that it’s all “their” fault and “they” will be punished. 

This is not the party I joined when I was 18, and volunteered for before I could vote.

I joined the party because they championed the rights of all humans. They opposed crippling government overreach. They advocated for personal responsibility.

Oh, GOP, how far you have fallen.

And so, with my eyes wide open to the bleak future ahead no matter the results in November, I bid adieu to the party that has left me, and I find myself reflecting on how vital it is I reengage with my community, with my neighbors, with those for whom I can make a positive difference. I will no longer fear the results of November because no political monster, no political party, and no political movement can change my ability, nay my responsibility, to be the person, and the Christ-follower I want to be. I believe I should care more ( or at least equally) about if my neighbor is cold or hungry than if the president is honorable. (Spoiler alert: the next president won’t be). I believe kindness, and in forgiveness, and in third chances.

I will still grieve in November, but I will still believe in a better America, because I will make my corner better. They can’t take the sky from me.

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