Hey GOP: Who’s Right on the Right?

Full disclosure: I am a registered Democrat. Happily and unapologetically living life on the left is not something I purposely wear on my sleeve (although my Republican friends might disagree), but I do place value in it. Akin to my feelings about being a Hawkeye, a Patchett, or a [transplanted] Iowan, it’s a group I’m proud to be part of.

I spend my days in what one good friend recently referred to as a “bipartisan utopia.” Hyperbole aside, LS2group is a true bipartisan workplace. Walk by three different offices here and you’re likely to encounter one person with an old Obama for Iowa sign, another with a framed and autographed photograph of George W. Bush, and a third with virtually no opinion about the upcoming presidential election. It’s a fascinating environment to work in and has fostered invaluable personal growth. It also led to my inner circle of friends being populated by several passionate Republicans. I’m still not sure how that happened.

As one could imagine, spending more than forty hours a week amidst a diverse group of politically motivated peers (or nerds in lay speak) produces interesting conversation on politics and policy. These are people who willingly give their free time to political events and campaign volunteering. They know their stuff. And while their conservative banter is not always melodious to my progressive ears, I still like learning about why they think what they think and vote how they vote. It’s curiosity more than anything; an occasional sociological dive into the minds of Republican youth in Des Moines’ East Village.

These Republicans will help set the tone for the nation when the Iowa caucuses roll around early next year. They’re going to have to wade through varying degrees of conservative rhetoric spouting from more than 15 Republican presidential candidates and decide who deserves to be their Party’s nominee. It sounds like a complicated, noisy, absurd task to me.

Since I know far too many intelligent, informed Republicans to believe Donald Trump is really who the Party wants on the ballot, I’m left to wonder which candidates are actually appealing to conservatives. Whose message is landing and whose policies are winning? Whose Iowa State Fair Soapbox speech got you fired up? Who really came out on top of the first GOP presidential debate? Why?

While there were a few points made during that ten-man tap dance to which I could relate, the first GOP debate did little more than cement my progressive reasoning and reaffirm the current clown-car-esque status of the GOP presidential field. But forget sexist jabs at FOX News pundits and sensational similes to smear progressive policies. I want to know what the real Republican voter base thinks. Especially the young ones. Who’s your pick to face off against the eventual Democratic nominee?

I can respect that you have different beliefs than I do. Or at least I can try. It’s a learning process. If the respectable conservatives in my office are any indication of the rest of the Republican Party, you have to be better than what the polls are currently showing.