An Open Letter to My Father’s Conservatives
To My Father’s Conservatives,
I know this election cycle has been upsetting to you. I wanted to write you this letter not from a place of anger, but from a desire to establish common ground. I’ve heard you say for months that you think Donald Trump is dangerous. I’ve heard you call him vulgar, rude, authoritarian, and fascistic, capable of plunging us into World War III.
With his victory in South Carolina, the idea of a Trump candidacy is realer than ever. Now I’m hearing you say you’re so distressed about Trump that you won’t vote for him in the general election. Just this week conservative pundit Erick Erickson wrote an op-ed saying he refuses to vote for Trump.
Behind all of your rhetoric are good intentions. You have a rose-colored rear view mirror. You remember when politics used to be about honor (Disregard Richard Nixon), and dignity (Now’s not the time to bring up Bill Clinton inserting a cigar into the vagina of an intern in the oval office), and the Presidency was an office that carried with it immense respect.
Presidents are meant to be the best of us.
This makes you sad about the modern states of politics, the vitriol, the mud-slinging, and the ratcheted up rhetoric, so much so that you’ve vowed to stay home, vote third party, or even cross over to the democratic side in November as a means of sending a message and preserving the status quo.
One earnest and respectful question comes to mind: have you been paying attention for the last twenty years?
You didn’t seem this upset when Bill Clinton’s sex scandal cast shadow on the oval office — it was a hubbub for a while, but he was a pretty good president over all. You didn’t seem to lament of the state of modern politics when Barack Obama essentially accused Mitt Romney of murder in 2012 with this ad:
You didn’t seem to worry about a candidate’s fascistic nature when Obama rose to power in 2008, despite stories of him beginning his political career in Bill Ayer’s living room, or attending Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church for 20+ years — a pastor known for violent and racially charged rhetoric.
You didn’t seem to publicly scream our Republic was ending when Reagan used government force to silence protesters at the University of Cal:
And you seem to believe that the status quo involves people like Hillary Clinton declaring “Republicans” as her biggest enemy during debates, or Barack Obama saying middle-Americans cling to their “guns and religion,” or urging Democrats to “bring a gun to a knife fight” against Republicans.
From a relative newcomer’s perspective, I respectfully disagree that this cycle is far worse than cycles’ past. I don’t view politics as the paradigm of decency you do, and don’t necessarily put as much value in the status quo.
Now I am a moderate conservative who has examined the major issues of our time and developed steadfast beliefs. One thing that makes politics so divisive and tough to discuss is how little these issues leave room for nuance. As much as we like to think these issues aren’t black & white, the reasoning that informs each of them is often that way. Whether we like to admit it or not, our political opinions greatly inform and shape our view on life.
These are mine:
I strongly believe in capitalism and the free market. I tend to buy the idea that the private sector is almost universally better and more efficient than the government equivalent.
I realize the government gave us the IRS, and the private sector gave us TurboTax.
I don’t trust the government with my money, and I believe in the individual’s unique ability to drive our economy through entrepreneurship and job creation. I believe the economic freedom citizens have and the hard-earned money they get to keep will always be more beneficial to society than high taxes and robust government spending.
Role of Government
In line with above, I believe the best government is that which governs least. I want a federal government so small I can barely see it. I don’t think more government is the answer to all my problems, and I don’t think I am a victim of a societal Man keeping me down.
I know that I alone hold the power to my success, and I see the path to achieving the American Dream: graduate high school, work really hard, marry the mother of my children, and avoid committing crimes.
I believe our government should protect our personal liberties, defend our national security, and help create a strong national infrastructure.
Beyond that, I don’t want them interfering with my life.
Despite its flaws, I believe America is still the greatest country on earth. I don’t cower to the falsity that American Exceptionalism is unbridled arrogance. I’ve taken the time to examine over 70 CIA World Factbook rankings and averaged them all out — America comes in 4th only behind countries the size of our smaller Northeastern states (Switzerland, Japan, etc).
So while global apologists want us to feel bad for being fat, and 38th in education, I know that we are uniquely excellent across the board in comparison to the rest of the world, and that no nation of similar size or power comes close to our success on the international scale.
I believe the world is better off when America is leading it. I understand an anarchic IR system necessitated on the influence of a few global power brokers, and I can’t think of any other country I’d rather have pulling the strings… China? Russia?
Whether we like it or not, America needs to be the leading force of good in our world. I believe our Foreign Policy should work to preserve the status quo internationally by working to oust terrorist organizations like ISIS, restore order in the Middle East, and loudly declare that we will not standby as oppressive regimes or governments attempt to enforce their will on a global scale.
I have a great frustration with our government’s inability to properly address gun violence in America. With each passing mass shooting, both parties stick to their stump speeches on the topic, do news cycle interviews, and then retreat to their bunkers with no sensible action having been taken in either direction. It’s disconcerting.
But the core of this issue comes down to the question of do individuals have the right to use a gun to defend themselves and their families from attack?
We can discuss the nuances of hunting, AR-15’s, semi-automatic weapons and the sort, but the core of this issue revolves around that question. I personally believe people have the right — as does the 2nd Amendment.
Abortion is a hot bed election issue with little impact on our day-to-day lives. I say that because Roe v. Wade has been in effect since 1972, and abortion laws in this country have more or less stayed the same ever since. We have the occasional law enacted here or there to fund Planned Parenthood, restrict access to abortions, require ultrasounds, etc. — and debating these are important.
But I have a more cynical view of this topic. The fundamental question is whether or not abortion is murder. I tend to believe it is. But from a utilitarian perspective, I’ve seen the sobering health statistics of nations where abortion is outlawed, and I worry legalizing it is the lesser of two evils. With that said, I think they should only be allowed very early into a pregnancy and that all other options should be heavily encouraged.
Nevertheless, because of its minimal impact on the policies of a president, I put abortion low on my priorities totem pole.
I’m part of a generation that is very socially liberal. For a majority of us, the gay rights issue is common sense. Of course two loving people from the same gender should have the right to get married, the right to equal protection under the law as well as equal benefits.
The Supreme Court felt the same way in 2015, and because of that, most of us believe the ship has sailed on the gay rights issue. Respectfully, we feel as if you need to catch up with the times and come to terms with it.
I know our country is a nation of immigrants, and that part of the reason we’ve been uniquely successful is because of our melting pot society. With the proper vetting in place, I am all for making legal immigration easier.
But I also believe the government should prioritize the citizens who are already here. It may sound cold, but the US has no obligation to citizens of other countries, just as their countries have no obligation to us. I believe our immigration policy should capitalize off of the fact that we have a far greater pool of applicants than we can bring in. The US should only bring in the best and brightest, those that will increase our averages. We ought to bring in people that can indicate proof of financial security so as to ensure they won’t be relying on our government to survive.
These feel like common sense. Why a nation would import foreigners and then immediately put them on government assistance is beyond me. We have a debt of $18 trillion dollars.
Illegal immigration is a major problem for the health of our nation. For one, a lack of secure borders provides a national security risk, as there have been countless pieces of evidence showing ISIS is attempting to capitalize off our immigration policies to sneak into the country. Furthermore, our FBI and Immigration Services department have a criminal case backlog of over 100,000 incidents, so much so that we cannot even properly convict and deport the illegal immigrants committing crimes in our country.
No, not all Mexicans are rapists. If there are 11 million illegal immigrants in our country, and only 100,000 are criminals, I still find that to be too high. According to a report from the Atlantic, this backlog in our judicial system has allowed for rapists, robbers and even murderers to be released back into our communities without deportation.
The case for illegal immigration is that it’s a net benefit to our economy. I believe that thinking is immoral. Illegal immigrants doing jobs no one else want to do is the equivalent of slave labor. As awful as it sounds, slavery in colonial times was also a “net benefit” for our economy.
That doesn’t make it any less immoral or mean we should be advocating for it.
We need to enforce the laws we have on the books. You cannot enter our country illegally. In 1986 our government tried a one-time amnesty as a means of fixing the illegal immigration policy. Since then, the number of illegal immigrants has quadrupled and the problem has only gotten worse.
I don’t think it’s healthy for the country to provide a pathway to citizenship to 12–15 million people working at slave wages, who will inevitably need welfare and other forms of government assistance to survive. We have millions of Americans who can hardly get enough help, not to mention all of our veterans, and we think it’s morally right to add 12 million non-citizens to that bankroll as well?
Why are we putting the dreams of other nations’ citizens before our own?
As a conservative, I know the illegal immigrant population largely leans left, so amnestying all of them will also mean an influx of new democratic voters, and could mark the end of the conservative movement.
For all of these reasons, I am strongly against illegal immigration.
In short, these are views I have carefully assembled, and I can’t just compromise on them from election to election, because it’s enshrined in how I see the world. In 2016, my value hierarchy is as follows:
- National Security
- Illegal Immigration
- Everything Else
With this in mind, indulge me in a hypothetical game. Imagine this election without Donald Trump for a moment. I want you to imagine because I want your help.
Given what I’ve said above — generally strong conservative values — walk me through the buffet line of presidential candidates:
Hillary Clinton, on policy, stands for just about the exact opposite of everything I listed above. Her time as Secretary of State has given me clear evidence of her inability to effectively dictate American foreign policy. I personally cannot think of a more shameful person to put in office. She is a career politician that got rich in office and richer when she left, that has actively worked to silence alleged victims of sexual assault and rape, who is under three separate federal investigations, who has a track record of lying to the family’s of fallen ambassadors and endangering the lives of CIA operatives.
She made $600k from speeches to Goldman Sachs and refuses to release the transcripts, and yet promises she’s a heavy opponent of Wall Street.
On policy alone I could never vote for her; it goes against everything I believe. On a personal, moral level, I think Hillary Clinton is evil. I think she’s a bad person. She shouldn’t hold public office, let alone the Presidency.
If Hillary is opposed to all of my beliefs, then Bernie is off the spectrum entirely. He’s an avowed socialist, who claims to be an outsider yet has been in office for 27 years. He’s a political revolutionary that’s authored three bills in that time, and two renamed post offices. Bernie is dangerously misguided in his beliefs, and would greatly increase the national debt.
I could never vote for him.
Given this fact, we can both agree I’ll have to pick someone from the Republican Party’s available candidates. So let’s examine them:
I have serious doubts Ted Cruz could defeat Hillary in a general election given his social stances.
He’s far right socially, and it’s a tough hill for me to climb getting to a place where I believe Cruz can attract a lot of independent or moderate votes.
I’m also worried about his lack of senatorial endorsements. I fear a Cruz presidency would just bring more gridlock and inaction from Washington.
Because of that, I can’t get behind him right now.
Marco Rubio, at face value, seems like the sensible candidate. But when you peel away the layers, what’s underneath is alarming. For one, he’s the establishment darling, striking eerie similarities to Romney in 2012. You told me Romney was the guy back then, too. Except Romney was a bad candidate for a few reasons: he never left the high road while Obama threw dirt to win, and he couldn’t attack Obama on his greatest policy weakness, Obamacare, because he sort of authored the blueprint for it.
Marco is the same way. He is famous for being a counter puncher, but rarely goes on the attack himself. In three short minutes at a recent debate, Chris Christie ripped Marco to shreds.
I can only imagine what Hillary’s machine would do to him. Even more so, Rubio voted for or agrees with almost every one of Hillary’s foreign policy decisions — so how could he be the most electable candidate to run against her, if he can’t even attack her greatest weakness?
It only gets worse from there.
Rubio is a quintessential politician, all talk and no results. He has one of the worst voting records in congress — he’s never there! Furthermore, we have hard proof that Rubio will stab constituents in the back and push policies diametrically opposed to the ones he ran on. Rubio was one of the authors of the Gang of 8 bill, and still has yet to explicitly denounce a pathway to citizenship. I honestly do not trust him at all on immigration.
Why? How’s this:
Marco’s political career is riddled with instances of misused campaign funds, close connections to seedy figures like David Rivera, and personal money issues like houses going into foreclosure, credit cards bouncing, and liquidating retirement funds. Finally, he’s robotic, clearly programmed by donors and his political team, and beholden to special interests. Of the top three GOP candidates, Rubio is the one with the closest money ties to Wall Street.
I don’t like Rubio, I don’t trust Rubio on Foreign Policy or Immigration, and most of all, I think he’s a carbon copy of the type of candidate we ran in 2008 and 2012, who got trounced in the general election. Since Rubio means Clinton in my eyes, I cannot support Marco.
So tell me, My Father’s Conservative, whom should I vote for? Can we not agree that these candidates are weak and unaligned with my traditional values?
You say Trump is vulgar and would bring shame to the oval office.
I say we’ve lived through Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. I say Hillary’s attacks on victims of sexual assault are more shameful to me than someone insinuating a reporter was on her period. I say Hillary’s federal investigations give me far greater pause than a candidate that repeated the word pussy.
You say Trump is stupid and uninformed.
I say Trump’s policies, as detailed on his website, are thorough enough for me and in fact align with my views more than any other major candidate. You can read them here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions
You say Trump is a bigot and a racist.
I say Trump is the only one who has a proper grasp of our immigration problem, and whose policies mostly align with those of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Just today, Cruz came out and pushed for the forced deportation of all illegal immigrants.
I believe Trump’s businessman pedigree has influenced his negotiating tactics politically, and that he surely knows he cannot ban all Muslims from immigrating. But I appreciate someone who initially takes the hardest stance possible, knowing they’ll have to eventually concede ground.
Since Trump did that, immigration has become a national conversation, and our DHS has readily admitted we are not properly prepared to vet any refugees.
You say Trump would bring on World War III
I say then what would Hillary do?
We already have empirical evidence of what she’s capable of when it comes to foreign policy. I cannot understand how she would be viewed as the safer pick in comparison to Trump. She’s allowed Russian aggression to go untouched, she’s influenced the complete collapse of the Middle East, and she supported a deal that gave Iran $150B and made them a global force.
It is not Trump I fear. It is Hillary.
You say Trump used to have liberal opinions
I say I know Hillary and Bernie do. Sorry if I don’t buy your view that Trump’s wishy-washy nature on issues like abortion make him fundamentally dangerous.
You worry Trump might be pro-choice.
I know Hillary is all for it.
What’s the safer bet?
Furthermore, I think Trump’s moderate views are beneficial in a general election, and I can’t identify any where he’s flip-flopped on the most important issues since the day he announced.
Trump wants to make our army the strongest in the world so nobody will mess with us.
He wants to influence our international trade deals to help keep businesses here and end the practice of countries like China ripping us off.
He wants to enforce our immigration laws and build a wall to cut the problem off at the source.
He wants to take out ISIS and vigorously protect our country through harsh national security enforcement.
You say Trump is an authoritarian fascist
I say that argument is silly and we’re tired of hearing it.
You saw the video above of Reagan using military force to squash collegiate protesters.
You’ve made me endure eight years of an Obama presidency full of executive actions from a man who attended the church of Reverend Wright and used Bill Ayers to launch his political career.
You criticize his political views as fascistic despite their eerie similarity to Rubio and Cruz. How can one be a fascist and the others not?
You say you’ll vote third party or Democratic if Trump’s the nominee.
I say how could you?
How could I?
There are no perfect candidates.
But it’s bizarre that you continue to pass judgment on Trump’s rise while ignoring the many sources of its creation. You say you’re disappointed I would support him, and yet you stood silently as Obama crushed McCain, Obama crushed Romney, and the House majority passed Obama’s Omnibus bill.
My beliefs do not sway in the wind. I have a hierarchy of things I value most that occasionally reorder given the times.
In 2016, Donald Trump is the closest candidate to my hierarchical beliefs. More than any other candidate, I believe Trump will help fix our immigration problem, will keep our country safe, and will implement free market policies that will help our country run like a business.
I’ve looked at the Democratic Party, and nothing scares me more than them. I’ve seen the republican nominees rolled out to us for the third election in a row, and I am both wildly unimpressed and thoroughly unconvinced they can stop the democrats.
And then I’ve looked at Trump.
I’ve seen a man already overthrow modern politics in a six short months.
I’ve seen him topple establishment goofs like Jeb Bush, who paid his campaign manager 14M, spent $100M, and dropped out after three primaries. He paid $25M per delegate.
I’ve seen a man attack the media for what it is — a liberal elite machine that seems allergic to the truth, constantly pushing their own agendas to the detriment of society.
I’ve seen a man make moves that are ten steps ahead of the other candidates, who’s capitalized off free media better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and in turn run one of the most efficient campaigns in history.
I’ve seen a man who’s bewildered the political establishment, enraged the special interests, and gravely threatened the existence of a bureaucratic machine so corrupt it boggles the mind.
I’ve seen a man that has an immense amount of private sector executive experience, who has managed thousands of people, and done so well his net worth is around ten billion dollars.
I’ve seen a man that is by no means a policy wonk, but who has shown a remarkable ability to understand politics, and who has displayed an amazing ability to tap into the issues that bother Americans the most.
Early on, when you said he was Hitler, I said I don’t hate him as much as you do.
You freaked out.
Later on you said he’d be the end of the GOP establishment, and I said I kind of get it.
You lost your mind.
Now you say it can’t be Trump… and I say it has to be.
Maybe — just maybe — we’re not all racist bigots.
Maybe we’ve weighed the good and bad of every candidate and see more net positive in Trump. You’ve been on the sidelines throughout this whole thing, judging the idiocy of the average American, throwing your hands up in the air in disgust at what politics have become, all the while your political assumptions being proven wrong with every poll, debate, and primary vote.
Maybe we’re not the problem.
Maybe you are.
Maybe you have been.
We both want the same thing: for America to thrive.
But maybe it’s time you woke up.