Why I'm No Longer a Republican
It's true. It finally happened. I left the Republican Party. While I’ve voted independent or democratic for the past few elections I’ve maintained my Republican Party affiliation for the local elections. That all ended a month ago when I officially changed my party to Democrat. This blog is my attempt to explain why.
In the beginning
Like most people, my political tendencies were set by my parents. My parents were Democrats and so was I, despite growing up in a predominantly red state. That changed when I went to collage. Slightly too young to vote in the 1992 US presidential election, I found like thinkers in the College Republicans club at Georgia Tech and voted Republican in the 94 mid-terms. This was the era of the Contract With America a fairly straight forward promise to Americans that helped switch the house to Republicans for the first time in 40 years. It promised balanced budgets, term limits, welfare reform, crime controls, and other traditional conservative causes. Notably it did not include anything about abortion and school prayer, hot button issues of the time.
The Contract with America was specifically designed around issues that most Americans agreed on, with legislation that had a high chance of getting passed through Congress and the opposition president. In other words: they promised a congress that would get shit done.
And guess what? It worked! While not all legislation was passed, they opened a useful dialog with the opposition president and made real improvements. The following years turned into an economic boom the persisted even after the dot-com bust of the early 2000s. This success boosted the careers of many Republican politicians and the party in general.
The Party of No
However, Something happened in the last ten to fifteen years. The Republican party has become “the party of no”. The party that will vote against whatever the president wants, regardless of merit. They are politically more extreme. Gerrymandering and massive outside cash ensures elections are decided in the local primaries between two members of the same party, not the general electorate. This has resulted in an unstoppable rightward drift of the party.
To remain in power they encourage fear. Fear of gays and lesbians. Fear of muslims and Mexicans streaming over our borders. Fear of China taking our jobs. The War on Terror has become an endless war keeping us in a perpetual state of fear from imagined horrors, funding huge security apparatus like the TSA. (PS: You are more likely to be killed by driving to the airport than in the air by a terrorist).
And now a decade of governing by fear has created the predictable outcome: Donald Trump. Yes he is loathed by the party leadership, but make no mistake: he was created by them. Trump is the party’s Frankenstein’s monster. Now he is rampaging across the countryside and they are powerless to stop him.
Oh, but it gets worse.
A side effect of running on fear is that the party continues to put itself on the wrong side of history.
Marriage equality is something that is not only morally right (if you believe all men are created equal), but obviously going to happen eventually. ~5% of people are homosexual, and they deserve the same rights as every other American, but the party fought this outcome every step of the way.
On so many issues the party is fighting the rising tide. Consider pollution and climate change? Humanity is putting more carbon into the atmosphere than it’s taking out. This will obviously have some sort of effect, but rather than tackling the issue head on with technology and financial incentives (most economists say we need a universal carbon tax) the party chooses to stick it’s head in the sand and say "no no no. It’s not real”.
Or how about immigration? We would have population shrinkage if it wasn’t for immigrant families. These are the people who are coming to America because they want to work and pay taxes and have good schools for their kids. These are the only parts of our population that are actually growing, but the Republicans want to demonize them and keep them out. This is a recipe for future electoral disaster. The wrong side of history. The the party's own researchers say this. Now the Trump monster is tearing it to shreds.
So Now I'm With Her
I can no longer call myself a Republican. I believe in a party of reason and long term thinking. A party that wants to improve life for all with free markets and minimal (but non-zero) regulation. A party that wants to keep government small and manageable and out of my private life. Sadly that is no longer the Republican Party. They are the party of No. The party of Fear.
I could forgive the party's lapses for a while in the hope that it would move back towards the middle, but after the nomination of Trump I simply can’t wait anymore. It’s not just that he won the nomination but that so many formerly upstanding leaders who’s opinion I used to respect have endorsed him. They have let the party be usurped by a monster they created.
So I am with her. She may not be the most likable candidate, but she’s the most qualified one we’ve had in decades. She’s a foreign policy hawk, wants fiscal transparency, plans to invest in education (one of the best ROI’s a free society can get), and generally knows how to get shit done.
After so many years of the Party of No, I’m voting Yes.