Thoughts from a Former Republican

I grew up in a conservative Republican household. When I was old enough to vote, I eagerly and proudly registered as a Republican. I watched Fox News (admittedly when most other peers my age were watching MTV…if that gives you any indication of my personality). I graduated with a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Political Economy and a minor in History. I bought and devoured Sean Hannity’s books. When real life came knocking and I needed a job, I strayed from politics and headed down a completely different path. Now age, life experiences, and most significantly, this election, have all changed my perspective drastically. I have watched an entire political party fall to pieces and form a divide. I am now a “blank”; I belong to no party. The party system has clearly led us down a divisive and destructive path and I cannot align myself one way or another. So, to that end I offer you some thoughts from a former conservative Republican:

Be better. Stop calling protesters, Democrats, Liberals, and Trump detractors names such as “snowflakes” and “whiny babies”. It’s not constructive and it’s below how you want to be represented. Just as some Republicans supported those who formed the Tea Party and protested, just as some supported those who protested and marched against Obama, these people demonstrating now want to be heard. Calling people names, telling them to “deal with” the fact Donald Trump is their president, and not listening or showing empathy makes you no better than those you dislike. Similarly, it’s completely unhelpful to mock or put down Trump dissenters and protesters as being “dramatic”, or say you don’t understand why they and/or their kids are scared. Turn your thinking around; why AREN’T you? Do you feel comfortable with the President’s stances on immigration, the economy, abortion, etc.? If so, great, but not all do. Put yourself in the shoes of a Muslim or immigrant family. Put yourself in the shoes of a gay or transgender person. You may not personally align with one’s religion or sexual orientation, but that doesn’t give you the distinct privilege to judge and decide their lives and feelings don’t count. We live in the “land of the free”, afford them that right.

Step outside the comfort zone of your political beliefs. Listen to other viewpoints with an open mind. Go ahead and read Breitbart and watch Fox News, but also read the New York Times or Washington Post, and watch CNN or a network nightly world news program. It’s hard. It’s annoying. It makes your blood pressure rise. I get it. The problem is, looking down on others based on sound bites and pundit commentary courtesy of your political safe space helps nobody. Perpetuating one-sided stories fuels divides and leaves people missing important pieces of information.

When Trump detractors call Trump voters ignorant, uneducated, racist, xenophobic, etc., anger is justified, but take the sting of the insults and reflect; why did many Republicans vote for and support Trump? Support arguments with facts – prove you are not uneducated and that you voted with confidence. Many people loathed Hillary Clinton but I personally heard very few reasonable explanations supporting their disdain. Unsupported facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and name-calling (“Killary”) will get people nowhere and ultimately proves nothing. PLEASE don’t believe one-sided news sources simply because it makes you feel better about supporting Trump; believe them because you researched, read, and educated yourself and proved the articles, commentaries, etc., to be true. Oh, and if it sounds outlandish (pizza parlor child trafficking, anyone?), Snopes that stuff (at the very least).

When Kellyanne Conway goes on multiple talk shows and complains about Republicans blocking cabinet picks, remember the past 8 years – with clarity. Merrick Garland, anyone? Eight years of stalled legislation. Eight years of threatened and actual governmental shutdowns. If you are going to complain, admit Republicans have done the same and provide solid reasons as to why Congress should move ahead with Republican picks now. Don’t ask Democrats and detractors to just suddenly “be better” because Republicans are in office now.

Be honest. What if Obama or Hillary were saying and doing what Trump is/has done? How would Republicans react if Hillary won the election and our intelligence agencies presented Russian meddling evidence? Or if Obama spoke about groping women as Trump did? Just because you are a Republican doesn’t mean you need to agree with everything their elected officials say and do. Blindly supporting a leader is flat-out dangerous.

To my fellow Christians (since many conservatives are) – practice what you preach. Look in your heart and be honest with yourself; does Donald Trump encompass what you truly believe as a Christian? Love, kindness, accepting and welcoming immigrants, financial accountability, personal accountability, good character – do any of these fall into the Trump category? If you still choose to support him, absolutely fine, but do not try to portray him as a wholesome religious man. Nobody is perfect but do not paint Donald Trump with a shiny wholesome veneer when he himself has portrayed himself as anything but.

Finally, just as Republicans fiercely protect and fight for the second amendment, I sincerely hope they fight for the rest of our rights and the rest of those amendments. Freedom of the Press seems a good place to start right now.

Obviously not all of my points apply to all Republicans (it would be wrong to over-generalize, clearly), but these are some of the common themes I’ve read over and over the past few months. So I say, be smart. Be educated. Be kind. Be empathetic. Be honest. If we continue down this path of selfish, ignorant destruction, we are in so much trouble. Do not blindly support a candidate because you are so afraid of leaving your political and social comfort zone that you will defend blatant lies, sexual misconduct, questionable financial dealings, disregard for our constitution, etc. Demand better. Listen, empathize, read, and think – honestly. Doing this led me to realize I am not affiliated with a political party because my views are not contained in a box; I have viewpoints that align with Democrats, Republicans, and even Libertarians. I will not sacrifice decency, knowledge, and basic human kindness to align with a political party or its candidate. It’s absolutely fine if you do, but please, do it for the right reasons. Don’t let the wrong reasons define you and your character – or the direction of this country.