Wait, Are We Still at a Republican Party?

Christie Luther Hurst is a former staffer for Mitch Daniels’ 2004 gubernatorial campaign. She holds a degree in political science from Purdue University and was a member of the inaugural class of the Governor Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship. She’s currently raising a family in Indianapolis and everything is awesome.

I’m an Indiana Republican woman unafraid to say I’m feeling sad, disgusted, and embarrassed by my party’s presidential nominee this election year.

These emotions are foreign to me. I was born and raised in the Republican party. My father worked for the Indiana State Committee. I grew up studying pictures of him with Ronald Reagan, Richard Lugar, and the like. He taught me that Republicans were champions for fiscal responsibility, states’ rights, personal liberty, free markets, and small business.

After graduating from Purdue, I had the incredibly fortunate experience to work for Mitch Daniels on his 2004 Gubernatorial Campaign. If you’re a fellow Hoosier, I bet I sent you a few of Mitch’s oh-so-popular “Notes from the Road” emails back then. Among many things, he taught me that real visionaries are able to translate a sincere connection with their constituents into a selfless strategy for a better future for all. He taught me that incredible feats in government can be accomplished when you inspire true public servants to come together and “Aim Higher.”

Watching Donald Trump and Mike Pence over the last year has been painful and confusing. It has challenged much of what I thought I knew about the Republican party. My heart breaks while watching Trump and Pence rebrand and redefine the party, misrepresenting its ideals in the eyes of our country, our youth, and the world. Trump’s misguided brand of Republicanism might have you think that:

· Republicans are angry, fearful and exclusionary.

· Republicans accept that personal liberty is reserved only for those who both look and believe like the white males who have been nominated to shepherd it.

· Republicans are conservative Christians, but willing to overlook absolutely deplorable behavior in order to win an election.

· Republicans believe discrimination is an acceptable first response to challenges like national security, economic development, or protecting religious freedom.

· Republicans will give a pass on weak economic development policy proposals because they come from a Republican businessman.

· Republicans’ level of expectation for the Leader of the Free World is low — dangerously low.

Republicans, please, together let’s be honest out loud. Trump does not represent the best of us. His misinterpretation of the party is an assault on our integrity as well as our ability to sustainably grow the GOP in the 21st century. How can we be credible, effective participants in unifying and governing the nation if we can’t first admit that our candidate is neither unifying nor prepared to govern?

I am a Republican, but Donald Trump does not represent me. In fact, he embarrasses me and I will not be complicit in his election.

So in 2016, #ImWithHer. I don’t agree with 100% of Clinton’s policy proposals (Hillary, if you’re listening, please address the national debt), but the more I take the time to learn about her, the more I feel confident in my vote. Her forward-looking policies for economic development and job creation include cutting red tape for small business, making significant investments in infrastructure, and becoming a global leader in sustainable technologies and green energy. She’s a tested, steady diplomat. She’s been a lifelong advocate for women, children, and the disadvantaged. The more I learn about her, the more I think she’s been unfairly vilified. I’m baffled when I hear Republicans say they “just don’t trust her” and yet refuse to hold Trump to the same level of scrutiny.

I’m not ready to abandon the party like many college-educated women have, but right now, we must raise the bar on the candidates who are allowed to be called Republican. Let’s look for candidates who adhere to the basic principles of the party of Lincoln, who respect and draw upon the strength of the melting pot that is the American public, who are confident enough to speak truth rather than dangerous, divisive rhetoric.

Let’s recruit the creative innovators who attract the best and brightest, who are equipped to tackle modern day challenges facing our nation. Let’s nominate role models who inspire younger generations and who feel the gravity of what it means to be called a “role model.” Let’s promote statesmen who have a clear vision for the country that is built upon integrity, respect for all, humility, optimism, science — and a vision that extends beyond borders, beyond his or her own political career, beyond his or her own lifetime. Before it’s too late, let’s call this year what it is, a loss, and demand better of ourselves.

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