John Donne and 2016

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

John Donne’s premise for his famous poem, “No Man is an Island”, has never been put to the test quite like it has this election cycle. Those of us who have taken the #NeverTrump (and #NeverHillary) vow can attest to this feeling. I have been accused of being a “fake Republican”, of “helping Hillary”, and a “traitor”, and of being a “sore loser.” The passengers on the Trump Train seem to have a taken on the personality of the conductor himself. It has left some of us wishing for more…or less…or sometimes, just wishing for something of substance.

I did not support Donald Trump. I do not support Donald Trump. I will not support Donald Trump. I have not always been what one would consider a tride-and-true conservative. It took me a couple of election cycles to learn that the glitz-and-glamor-and giveaways of national Democratic campaigns aren’t good for the sustainability of this country. I can appreciate growth and development of positions, and finding your place on the political spectrum; that is not my problem with Mr. Trump. My problem is as follows: I did not fight my way down life’s long road towards conservatism just to turn my vote back over to an opportunistic New York liberal. I don’t care if that liberal is Hillary Clinton, or Donald J. Trump.

Those folks who are on this journey with me know, it isn’t fun or easy to explain why I’m holding out. People tell me all the time about “picking the lesser of two evils” and “binary choices”, but I don’t see elections as mathematical calculations; elections are how we display our souls as Americans. My vote is not just some pocket change that I flip into the guitar case of a mediocre street performer because he’s the only one playing; it is an endorsement of ideas, and support for a particular vision of the future. The vision Mr. Trump promotes sometimes make me wish I was blind. He has revealed a dark part of our American soul, and used it to his advantage. I will never have to answer to my children or grandchildren about voting for a man who stood on a stage and mocked a disable reporter. I will never have to tell my children or grandchildren how I voted for a man who calls women “pigs.” He has relegated those of us who believe in the magnificence of the office of the presidency into a no-man’s land, by tarnishing the path to get there with personal insults and jokes about male genitalia. I refuse to go along.

My lonely 2016 motto: “At least he/she isn’t Hillary Clinton” does NOT qualify a person to be the President of the United States. A voter’s dislike (no matter how warranted) for Secretary Clinton should never overcome their love for America. I disagree with her on a whole host of issues: tax policy, foreign policy, abortion, education reform, executive power, the 1st amendment, the 2nd amendment, the 4th amendment, the 10th amendment, the corrosive nature of modern politics, etc; the same issues I disagree with Donald Trump on. The each say whatever is convenient, and whatever will win them votes. I won’t choose one set of spoiled goods over the other just because the labels are different.

I am a big-tent kind of person. My nominee doesn’t have to agree with every principle that I hold dear; I would, however, like for them to at least have a principle or two to hold dear. Hillary Clinton had none in 2008, and has none in 2016. Donald J. Trump has never met a principle or constitutional amendment that he wasn’t willing to sell-out for. This year, my party is asking too much of me. I won’t put my future at stake for the sake of the (R) beside Donald Trump’s name.

I will remain a Republican, mainly because Mr. Trump won’t. He’ll lose, and leave, paying no attention to the ashes he leaves behind. I will remain because of the good people who will lead the party into the future, with an uplifting, principled, respectable, respectful, and positive vision. I will remain because of Scott Walker, and Jeff Flake, and Susana Martinez, and Mia Love, and Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, and Ben Sasse. One day, I will rejoin the continent. One day, I will rejoin the main. Until then, with apologies to Mr. Donne, I will remain an island (a principled, conservative one).

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