For This Republican, Never Trump Means “I’m With Her”

July 18, 2015 — The day I became NeverTrump.

If you know me at all, you know I am a woman fiercely loyal to my friends and family. And so it was on July 18 when I already knew that I had enough reason to never vote for Trump.

Donald Trump lost my respect that day, and he can never gain it back.

But there are many, many more reasons why I cannot vote for him.

It didn’t take long for it to move beyond the personal, as week after week went by, and Donald Trump laid brick after brick in a wall of racist comments, lies, misogyny and ignorance that slowly climbed taller than the wall he promised to build.

Never Meant Never

What began for me on July 18th only became further entrenched. Months later, never still meant never.

These are the choices we have.

This is not the election I wanted. These are not the choices I wanted. But these are the choices we have. And to pretend otherwise is naivety.

An Opening

On the penultimate night of the Democratic National Convention, the Democrats made a calculated play for disaffected Republican voters. I don’t think it was hard to miss, but maybe that’s because it felt like they were speaking to me.

He could have pointed blame at the GOP for enabling Trump’s rise. He could have taken party leadership to task for falling in line behind Trump. But he didn’t. He instead presented the election as a choice between democracy and demagogue. He gave Republicans the option to abandon Trump rather than blaming them for his rise.

There are so many things I disagree with President Obama on, but this is a moment I will always respect him for. And maybe this was the moment I needed to fully own the choice I would have to make in November.

Can I even call myself a Republican?

Over a year ago, on a walk with a friend through the thick DC humidity, we talked about campaigns and politics and the primaries. We talked about Trump and his outrageousness, his ignorance, and the dangers he’d pose to my party (not hers), and the dangers he’d pose to our world. But then, he was just a joke. I was angry about his comments, but I was still able to laugh them off. He wasn’t a serious threat to our world, because he couldn’t possibly win the nomination. Yet even then, I said to her,

“If Donald Trump wins the nomination, I don’t know if I can call myself a Republican any more.”

And that is where I am. The party I grew up in, the party I want to work in and change and push to be more inclusive, betrayed me and countless others. The party chose for its king a demagogue who wears a wig instead of a crown, and a celebrity in pursuit of fame and fortune rather than service and sacrifice.

But I am not yet ready to call myself a Democrat.

My political philosophy is still fundamentally Republican — focused on self-reliance, states’ rights, a government that steps in when it should, for a free people who recognize it’s not the best option most of the time.

But I learned something important in 2000 and again in 2008: the picture the opposition and the media paints of a candidate is not the whole picture, and it is not the truthful picture.

I wanted our nation to see what I saw, and to believe the best about my grandfather — to believe he was driven by service more than ambition, that his decisions were always made in view of a nation rather than of himself. To believe that any mistakes he had made were not intentional, and to believe that his compromise was faithfulness to, and not a betrayal of, his duty.

July 27, 2016 — The day I finally decided

I wanted a different candidate. I wanted a New American Century. I wanted an election with good ideas and good discourse. I wanted to win. But now I want my party to change. I want fresh leaders, of good character, in both parties. And I want Donald Trump to be humiliated in November and driven far from the political arena for the rest of his life.

VA→NC→DC. Digital / Politics. Looking for the next adventure.