Earlier this month I took the dreaded trip to the DMV. After graduating from college in Mississippi, I returned home to California and began the long, tedious, costly process of registering my car. “Costly” is an understatement. Anyone who’s ever tried to register their car in California knows that it feels like bribing cops in El Salvador to look the other way from a bloody mess in a hotel room. It’s difficult, spoken in Spanish, and expensive.
After dishing out my week’s pay on inspections and fees, I registered to vote. The lone “free” part of my costly trip visiting our local government. Like a moldy carrot on the end of a stick being dangled in front of me, I had one moment to rebel against the system while making sure my wallet was still in my pocket.
I’ve thought about leaving the Republican Party for several years. It started when the Bush Administration came to a sputtering halt and the GOP trotted out next-in-line John McCain. When the Democrats nominated a charismatic, intelligent, and young black man, I knew the election was settled. The country was sick of war and McCain charged in banging the drums of war.
As it turned out, that charismatic, intelligent young black man was mostly full of hot air and spent his tenure as president working on his chipping game. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, we held another election and the GOP nominated a multimillionaire corporate stiff. Not Donald Trump, mind you. Sure, the entire country was still reeling over Wall Street bailouts and whatnot. Parks around America were filled with homeless socialists demanding that we end property rights and consent before sex.
Mitt Romney seems like a nice guy. He’s probably a great neighbor that hosts fun dinner parties. But unfortunately, the GOP failed to see why a plain white guy that looks like he owns a bank would win against Barack Obama. The GOP lost their bet and Karl Rove lost his mind on live television. Another four years of Obama with eyes set on 2016. With rising stars in Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul set to run, the White House was almost certainly going back to red.
Wishful thinking, as it turned out. When primary season opened up, it seemed everyone and their mother wanted the nomination. So the GOP trotted out a bunch of white guys, a woman, a black doctor that speaks in a Xanax-laden tone, and the orange man from The Apprentice.
Meanwhile, the Democrats had four choices with as few debates as possible so as to assure a Hillary Clinton nomination. Sure, they had to rig the election, but they got their wish. An easily-packaged robot that will convince the masses her womanhood should overshadow her corruption and penchant for threatening her husband’s rape victims.
The rising conservatives couldn’t rise to the challenge. One by one they dropped out and eventually the most unelectable man on the stage won the nomination. With mass movements spreading to challenge the status quo on race relations in the United States, the GOP nominated Donald Trump.
I could write a whole article about how big bad Donald Trump drove me away from the Republican Party. We could talk about his arrogance, his mildly racist rhetoric, his lack of a plan, his lack of diplomacy, or his mail-order bride. There’s plenty wrong with Donald Trump, but everything wrong with Trump is consistent with my former party’s choices.
How could that be? Isn’t Donald Trump the most evil man since Bush-Hitler used that hurricane machine on New Orleans? Doesn’t his lack of principles, his bankruptcies, his comb-over disqualify him from the presidency? Why can’t everyone see that he’s not a real conservative?
The most important question asked is the final one. No one is convinced that Trump is a conservative. His supporters simply don’t care because the GOP doesn’t nominate conservatives. Governor Romney created the blueprint for Obamacare and wanted to engage in a Trump-style trade war with China. Senator McCain’s “maverick conservatism” meant that he liked bombing the Middle East and spying on Americans without warrants or oversight. McCain also brought Governor Palin to the forefront of the party and put her in front of the spotlight far too early. Now she’s a Trump-supporting reality TV star.
Even the last Republican president would hardly qualify as “conservative.” President George W. Bush, the only Republican candidate that won a majority of popular votes since his father in 1988, had socially conservative values. But his economic policy meant bailing out banks while the little guy got screwed. He destabilized the Middle East and spent our country into trillions of dollars of debt. In the process, he violated the constitution and intruded on the privacy of Americans in the name of security. President Bush was not a conservative.
Now, imagine for a moment that you are an average voter in the GOP. You are concerned for your country’s direction and the decline of culture. You support our troops and may have seen loved ones fight and die for this great nation. You love the United States and believe it is the greatest nation in history. Your party nominates a faithful man in George Bush, a troop-supporter like John McCain, a business-minded man in Mitt Romney. They sing all the right notes, they play the right tune. Yet when it comes down to election day or in the courts or in the halls of congress, they have nothing to show for it. It feels a lot like getting swindled. It feels a lot like being used. It feels a lot like going the DMV. They promised walls, strong economies, representation, principles, and it amounted to nothing.
See, Trump supporters and I have one thing in common: the belief that the Republican Party doesn’t give a damn about their voting block. Despite being gifted record seats in the House in 2010 and regaining control of the Senate a few years later, the GOP never really tried to stop Obama’s agenda. Sure, they put on a few dog and pony shows. But nothing ever came of their oversight committee hearings or filibusters. On the flip side, they couldn’t find common ground with Obama and address some issues that we all can agree on. To be fair, I don’t think Obama made much of an attempt either. But the point is clear, GOP members of congress have collected a paycheck despite not having a lot to show for it. While there is plenty of blame to be directed at Bush, McCain, and Romney, the problem goes much deeper than the nominees. It lies with the party.
Fortunately, I am intelligent enough to know that the party isn’t the principles. Fighting for the constitution, limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a strong military doesn’t have to come with a bloated elephant. It can be done through advocacy and participation. Yes, there is the legal process. However, I refuse to tie myself down to an ineffective party that nominates and elects big-government “conservatives.”
Perhaps Trump is the harbinger of what is to come. It sure feels like he’s destroyed the party. When Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the usual suspects will promise that 2020 will be different. They’ll demand unity and assure us that after wandering the desert for years we will reach the promised land. This time, however, the landscape will be different. While most of the media focused on Trump tearing the GOP apart, little attention was paid to Bernie Sanders doing the same to the Democratic Party.
No one at the DNC expected a Larry David lookalike to challenge Clinton so seriously. Let alone a socialist that likes guns. One could argue that Sanders’s run indicates a shift to the left for the party. However, I’d argue that his popularity is based in the same reasoning as Donald Trump. Sanders supporters are unhappy with the status quo of their party and were let down by Obama’s presidency. I expect the Democrats will be experiencing similar shakeups as the GOP in the coming years.
If Trump and Sanders lead to the demise of America’s longest running and most powerful parties, I am perfectly fine with that. To be quite honest, it’s about damn time. Political parties are a cancerous tumor on the democratic process and to continue feeding these monsters because of some unearned loyalty is simply illogical. We’ve seen both parties run wild in D.C. and fail to fulfill even the simplest of their promises. Democrat or Republican, the problems stayed the same and the cancer keeps growing.
I didn’t leave the party because Trump got the nomination. That’s called being a sore-loser. I left because the party gave voice to Trump. The party has entertained the worst of his thoughts for years. They invited him to speaking engagements to listen to him blabber on about birth certificates. The GOP let Trump into their world and gave him legitimacy in politics. Yes, the GOP is responsible for Trump.
I left my party because of the years of broken promises. I left my party because I’ve never had a nominee that I felt comfortable voting for. I left my party because despite having my support every primary, midterm, and general election they had no answer to the changing world. My party, not Donald Trump, rejected a fellow party member’s plea to adapt to gay marriage. Rachel Huff’s attempt to be included in her own party was defeated by an old guard of Republicans that refuse to acknowledge that trying to stop gay marriage was a waste of money and a black eye in the face of the party. I commend Ms. Huff and plead that she continues her fight. I will support her, just from the outside.
The “No Party Preference” box on the form looked so comforting. I could dissociate from morons that say stupid things about rape. No longer was I attached to a club that didn’t do much for its members. And most importantly, I don’t have to follow their stupid rules.
So long Grand Ol’ Party! I’m not waiting in the hotel room for the El Salvadoran cops to arrive. This is your mess, your problem, and your dead body. Adios!