I’m a Republican. And I’m With Her.
(The One Where I Choose Country Over Party)
If you had asked me two years ago if I would vote for Hillary Clinton in November, I would have told you no. Not because I think she’s a murderous witch or deserves to be thrown in jail (because I have yet to see actual evidence supporting either contention), but because I disagree with a majority of her policies. After all, there are reasons why I’m a Republican.
I’d be lying if I said part of me wasn’t sad about that reality. As someone who as a little girl was told that a woman couldn’t — and even shouldn’t — be president, it made me genuinely disappointed that I wouldn’t be voting for the first female presidential candidate in a major party.
And then my political world was turned upside down by a candidate who mocks everything I value about my country and my party and who is wholly unqualified to be President of the United States. I’ve watched my party’s primary cycle unfold with mixed horror and resignation, as the natural consequence of years of electoral choices finally reared his orange head. Choosing not to contradict xenophobia for fear of losing votes. Choosing to vilify compromise and claim that obstinancy is the same as principled leadership. Choosing to conflate conservatism with traditionalism. Choosing to act like the issues facing the most powerful government on earth can be solved with common sense. Dudes, if common sense could fix them, they wouldn’t be the subject of national debate.
One of the many, many problems with this approach has been to cheapen our internal party dialogue about what makes a good leader and what it means to be a Republican. And now, we have a candidate who is the human embodiment of those capitulations to fear, ignorance, and a win-at-all-costs approach to elections. This was predictable. If you stop acting like a party moored in intellectual and moral principles, you will eventually be taken over by someone with none.
So my party is asking me to give my vote to a charlatan, a man who fails every relevant test for the presidency conceived. Who represents none of the history of the best of the Republican Party and all of the worst. And that’s something I can’t do.
When I vote for president, before I even get to consider whether that person’s policy preferences line up with mine, I have to believe that he knows what he’s doing, that he will be able to make wise decisions in the most difficult of circumstances, and that he is guided by some principle stronger than mere opportunism.
The presidency is not for rookies, nor is it for authoritarian demagogues.
Donald celebrates his lack of nuance, patience, and self-control. He unapologetically uses language that demeans women, minorities, really anyone that doesn’t look, act, or think like Donald Trump. He then blames other people for misunderstanding him or for being unfair. He seeks attention as an end of itself, and pursues it with a singleminded devotion that he has given nothing else in his life (including his marriages). Donald has praised dictators, asked a foreign government to hack his political opponent, blacklisted the press, and baited the worst instincts of people who are legitimately frustrated, confused, and afraid.
The reasons why I’m a Republican matter far more than the fact that I’m a Republican. Donald doesn’t embody a single one of those reasons. More importantly, the fact that I’m American is far more important to me than that I’m a Republican. This November, my love of country compels me to vote for the person I believe is qualified to be President of the United States. And that isn’t Donald Trump.
Hillary isn’t perfect. She has significant transparency issues, and I don’t agree with all her judgment calls. But she is competent, hard-working, and committed to public service. She has spent the entirety of her adult life working for this country, during times when that was well compensated, and times when she was vilified for her attempts. I respect her willingness to constantly step up and get in the ring, even if I don’t always like what she’s fighting for or how she’s fighting. At the end of the day, I believe she knows what she’s doing and is genuinely trying to make America’s future better than its past.
Hopefully in four years my party will nominate someone who has something of value and substance to offer. I’ll do what I can to make that happen. The country needs rigorous debate over real ideas, and we all do better when we can choose between several strongly articulated and defensible solutions to problems. But I can’t ignore the election this year in the hope that next time will be better. Our country will choose a new president in November who will be given extraordinary power. Realistically, it will be either Hillary or Donald. I cannot trust that Donald won’t follow through with the terrible things he’s saying, nor can I accept that a person as morally and intellectually bankrupt as he can win the presidency. Which is why, this year, I’m with her.