I’m a Conservative and I’m not Voting for Trump.

Nope.

If you know me at all, you’re not surprised by this, but I feel the need to say it once and for all, and to spell out my reasons for not standing with the current presumptive Republican nominee for president.

First, I think it is better to be idea-driven rather than party-driven. For example, I am a Christian first and foremost, and then I am a Conservative. These facts lead me to certain political beliefs. I am pro-life, pro-education, pro-family, and pro-small government. These are things I have spent much time considering, and they are very important to me. These are the ideas that direct who and what I vote for. These are also the ideas that direct who and what I support with my time, words, funds, etc. I try very hard to be idea-driven when it comes to politics. I think it is the better approach.

If we are simply party-driven, we are essentially out-sourcing our thinking to party leaders and mega-donors. When we do this, our positions can change drastically in a short period of time. This isn’t always the case. If you are a Republican party-first person who supported John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, your positions on the issues likely remained fairly consistent. But this year, your positions on things like free trade, social issues, foreign policy, and small government have changed drastically. When the only things we stand for are what the party tells us to stand for, we really stand for nothing at all.

Looking at Trump from an idea-driven analysis, the man is simply not a Conservative. Well, let’s back up. The man is a vile human being first and foremost. This is a man who fantasizes about his own daughter. This is a man who believes in treating women like [crap]. This is a guy who is a textbook narcissist. He doesn’t think he ever needs to ask God’s forgiveness. He mocks the disabled. He encourages violence at rallies. Is that enough? Can I stop now? This is your party nominee. When you endorse him, this is the kind of stuff you will have to explain. As for me? No thanks. It’s really pitiful watching people like Reince Priebus try to dance around this stuff. That’s what happens when you sell out your ideas and principles for votes.

His policy ideas, to the extent he actually has any, range from ridiculous to horrifying to both. First, he has said over and over that he is “very pro-choice.” Now he is magically pro-life because he’s running as a Republican? I’m not buying it. His plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. is unenforceable from a practical and constitutional standpoint. His trade policies have been proven to be failures. And he seriously thinks that more nuclear weapons in the world would be a good idea. The guy is simply clueless. He’s not tough, he’s not smart, and he does not care about you.

I should add that I am also not voting for Hillary Clinton. The case against her is overwhelming, and I don’t feel the need to make it here. “But Larry, don’t you see that by not voting for Trump, you’re actually helping Hillary?? How can you be so stupid??? DO YOU HATE AMERICA????” Well dear friend, when faced with a false dichotomy which will force me to violate my conscience in both directions, I refuse to capitulate. My conscience is more important than the Republican party. I need to be able to explain this situation to my daughter someday and tell her that her daddy did what he thought was right, not what was easy. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write somebody in.

I also suspect that from this point on, everyone will remember which of the party leaders bent the knee to Trump, and which ones stood up for their ideas and principles. I hope that this election will usher in new leadership and better ideas for the Republicans. If Republicans keep going down the Trump road, we are doomed. People will remember which of the party leaders stood up for something when it wasn’t the politically expedient thing to do.

I know people that I respect greatly who are planning to vote for Trump because they cannot stand the thought of President Hillary Clinton. That’s fine. That’s your right. I don’t think you are evil, and I certainly don’t hate you. But I am going to disagree with you on this, and I would welcome any policy and character discussion that someone thinks might sway me (not that people should necessarily care what I think). I still think the Republican party is the far better party, and I plan to vote Republican on the down-ballot. But I just can’t make myself vote for President Trump. Sorry…well, not really.

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