I just can’t do it any more.
I used to pride myself in voting for the best candidate, regardless of party, whenever I voted in an election. This resulted in some strange results for me as a registered Democrat, because I would vote for Democrats, Republicans and, yes, even Conservatives. I think one time I even voted for someone in the Green Party.
I mean, that’s how it’s supposed to be, right? Politics should not be a zero sum game, where you win if your tribe obtains a majority so massive that it can ignore the minority. Nor should the reigning party be able to impose its vision of morality upon its constituents merely because it was funded well enough to gerrymander itself into power. Indeed, there is a significant problem when a majority enacts laws that ignore science or compassion simply because it owns the numbers necessary to do so. Like the recent Ohio anti-abortion bill that orders doctors to reimplant ectopic pregnancies, which is not only medically impossible, but even if it could be done would still force a woman to maintain an almost completely unviable pregnancy that could easily kill her.
I believed that my duty as an American was to study the issues, read the campaign platforms, watch the debates and make an informed, considered decision as to which candidate would get my vote. This was the patriotic thing to do; the fair thing to do. At least that’s what I naively thought.
I should’ve just listened to my father.
I was about 9 years old when the Richard Nixon impeachment process began. I don’t remember much about it. But I do recall that my father, who then and now detests politics, was completely disgusted with the way Republicans supported Nixon even as the evidence mounted against him. He maintained that disdain as he watched Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes win the presidency, and saw the lie of trickle down economics create financial inequity on an epic scale, while disastrous foreign policy decisions enriched large corporations and created scandal upon scandal as Republican officials were indicted, administration after administration. You know the names: Iran-Contra. Enron. The Iraqi war. The invasion of Afghanistan.
But still, I didn’t see it. I thought those were macro political decisions made on a level I couldn’t understand, made by people with a much firmer grasp of the global consequences than I would ever have, and anyway, the Republicans thought they were acting in America’s best interests, right? The corruption and subsequent indictments weren’t evidence of any kind of systemic issue with the GOP as a whole; they couldn’t be. After all, despite our policy differences, the Democrats and Republicans are Americans, and eventually we will support one another against a common enemy, won’t we?
I don’t know when it changed. Maybe it was the infamous Newt Gingrich GOPAC memo in 1990, when he instructed Republicans to address Democrats as “sick”, “pathetic” “traitors.” Maybe it was the virulent, unrelenting attacks that Ted Cruz made on the Affordable Care Act, even shutting down the government because of his displeasure with the law.
Or maybe my father was right all along.
For years we have seen GOP politicians cynically divide this country in a myriad of ways. They called for cuts to Social Security and Medicare while simultaneously giving tax breaks to our wealthiest citizens–trying to take benefits that many Americans need to survive while enriching billionaires. They ignored basically unanimous scientific evidence regarding the effects of climate change while lining their pockets with donations from fossil fuel companies, harming countless US citizens now and for generations to come. Similarly, they have eagerly taken money from the NRA while refusing to enact meaningful gun safety legislation, and when this country mourns a proliferation of mass shootings they deflect with platitudes: it’s mental illness; guns don’t kill people, people kill people; it’s disgusting that the left politicizes these deaths.
You might point out that Democrats have been engaged in scandal, they have been discourteous and they have also supported positions while accepting money from lobbyists at the same time. That is, of course, completely accurate. But the record also displays, pretty convincingly, that the Republicans have done these things far, far more than Democrats, and that GOP politicians seem wholly unrepentant about their harmful stances.
So I suppose it should really be no shock to see current Republicans deny the stone, cold facts and lie to protect Trump despite the unequivocal evidence which shows that the president abused his power and tried to coerce Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election (for Trump’s own benefit, of course). Nor should our jaws drop when three – three! – Republican Senators claim that Ukraine interfered in our election, contradicting the findings of EVERY American national security agency, and president Trump’s own Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, by promoting Russian conspiracy theories designed to harm us and Ukraine. And our eyes should not fly open when the GOP smears distinguished, lifelong public servants who tell the truth about the president’s misconduct merely because Republican Congressmen don’t like it that the testimony shows Trump should be removed from office for placing his personal interests over those of his country. Instead, those eyes might shed a tear or perhaps reveal a flash of anger that persons entrusted with the welfare of this nation dishonestly flout their obligations in favor of a man who has openly requested that three – three! – foreign states attack his political adversaries to help him win elections.
Whether you believe these actions are in fact the culmination of forty plus years of Republican malfeasance or are the product of a singular effort to protect the current chief executive, to me the result is the same:
I cannot in good conscience support Republican candidates in the foreseeable future, if ever again.
If that seems like an overreaction, consider that most politicians begin their careers running for local or state office before graduating to Congress or Senate. So your support of a Republican candidate for state legislator could yield a Kevin McCarthy, or worse, a Steve King. Plus, there are numerous examples of how GOP controlled state legislatures horrifically gerrymandered their states, leading to the election of a severely disproportionate number of Republican Congressmen and the disenfranchisement of Democrats across many states. North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin are particularly egregious examples of this. And then there is the rampant voter suppression in multiple states: hello, Georgia and Alabama!
How can I vote for anybody, even in a local election, who is a member of a party that repeatedly seeks to blatantly rig the system in their behavior? Should I disregard their affiliation in the unlikely expectation that, by rewarding them with the power of office, it could change? And how about the spiteful policies that their brethren enacted on issues like abortion, healthcare and gun violence, which might never have occurred if Democrats controlled those legislatures rather than Republicans.
This behavior did not occur overnight. It’s the result of following a dogged and meticulous plan, year after year, so that conservatives could assert their unwanted hegemony over an unsuspecting body politic. It is diabolical and unremittingly cruel, wrapped in the guise of patriotism, lies and religion. Separating children from their parents? It’s supported in the Bible. Suing to take away the Affordable Care Act? We’re actually PRESERVING your healthcare. No abortion in cases of rape, incest or even to save the life of the mother? Every life is precious. Mass shootings? Don’t you support the second amendment? Refusal to give medical treatment to a transgender person? Sorry, I have a religious objection. On and on it goes. And I haven’t even touched on the legacy of Nixon’s southern strategy or racism.
The clear and convincing evidence shows me that the Republican Party, as an institution, is no longer capable of producing viable candidates for political office, because members of that party can no longer be trusted.
Fortunately, there is a better way. There is a party that strives to be honest, and push ideals that they think will benefit people. One that believes the phrase “equal protection under the law” actually means protection for all, not just those who make large campaign contributions. One that wants to open economic avenues to ALL Americans, not amass power among the wealthy few. One that wants to preserve your health care, not sue the government to destroy it. One that wants to end gun violence, not simply offer thoughts and prayers. One that considers climate change to be the threat that scientists tell us it is. And while the Democrats may not be perfect, may have messy policy disputes, and may have vastly different ideas as to what plans will work best, at least they appear to have the best interests of Americans at heart. That is not something I can say about the Republican party.
This November, whether it’s President, Senate, Congress, State legislator, Town Council or even Dog Catcher, support the Democratic candidate. Make calls for them. Stuff envelopes. Canvass. Donate. And, most importantly, vote for the Democratic candidate.
There is no other choice.
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