Is There Room For Me in the GOP?

Public service runs through my veins, policy is always on my mind, and patriotism fills my heart and wardrobe. As a young child, my response to the oft asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ was always the same, ‘Madrid Town Supervisor’ (our equivalent to mayor).

Coming from a staunchly Democratic family, I sheepishly registered as such upon turning 18. Shortly after beginning college I gained a better understanding of each party’s policy platforms and leaders; I was most definitely not a Democrat, but was I a Republican?

My friends in College Republicans made me feel like I was, and the more I studied, the more conservative I became. Let’s just say coming out as gay in the Finnegan family is easier than coming out as a Republican (I still have a cousin who has not spoken to me since I voted for Romney in 2012).

So what are the tenants of my political ideology? In no specific order: 1. Fiscal Conservatism (prudence, discipline, etc.) 2. Strict Constitutionalism 3. Peace Through Strength 4. Free Markets

I believe that deficits and debt are just deferred taxation, for which my generation will bear the burden (likely my children's generation, too). I support a safety net, but not a safety hammock. I support evidence based anti-poverty programs, and I am open to major structural reform. I’ve only ever heard Republicans address these issues.

I believe in comparative advantage and love free trade (specifically free trade done right, i.e. without cronyism). I don’t think you can have free people without free markets. The consumer is always right, and central planners always end up being wrong, very wrong. I’ve only ever heard Republicans address these issues.

I will defend my right to bear arms just as vigorously as I will defend my opponents’ right to be wrong about guns and gun violence. I love the whole Constitution (well, maybe not the whole direct election of U.S. Senators, but that’s a post for another day). I’ve only ever heard Republicans address these issues.

I believe bullies pick on the weak, not the strong. I believe America plays a largely positive influence on the international stage. I also believe that to continue to protect our nation, and our friends (especially those in NATO) we must maintain a strong and innovative national defense. I’ve only ever heard Republicans address these issues.

BUT, I also believe I should have the same rights and privileges associated with legal marriage as my heterosexual friends (though I am not entirely sure there should be any, but again, I will save that for another day). I believe, despite my personal religious views, in a free society women should not have to abide by my (or your) views on abortion. With proper sex education and access to contraceptives we have dramatically reduced the abortion rate, but we can do more. Roe v. Wade isn’t going anywhere, and I’m not sure it should.

I also believe the prohibition on marijuana is foolish. I do not smoke, nor would I (I’d prefer clean lungs, thanks). I reject the notion weed is a gateway drug and I don’t think those who smoke are lazy losers. Most importantly, the weed prohibition has a tremendous human and fiscal cost. There is no question in my mind, drug laws as they are currently written disproportionately affect minority communities and require thoughtful reform.

I am not afraid of muslims (some of my dear friends practice Islam). I love immigrants and their contributions to our nation. I do not believe a child should be punished for the crimes of their parent(s). I’m grateful for the service and bravery of our police officers, but I also believe our officers are too quick to pull the trigger, especially on African American males. I believe black lives and black liberty matter.

I will be frank: 2016 has been a political dumpster fire. The party just ratified the most radically exclusive platform of the modern era and nominated a man who bashes the disabled, muslims, women, prisoners of war, and a gold star family. The party (I cannot bring myself to say ‘our’) nominee has no apparent knowledge or regard for the Constitution, and he is a self-described king of debt. The nominee’s disdain for free trade is celebrated at his rallies, as is his proposal to disband NATO. I do not recognize this party; it’s not the party I proudly joined in 2011.

I’m an eternal optimist, but I am not chained to this party. I am, however, firm in my convictions. This liberty-loving free marketeer isn’t ready to pack up his ACLU Pocket Constitution and go home just yet, but this tragic conflict of loyalties (party vs. principles) cannot go on much longer.