I’ll leave the Republican Party if you’ll say goodbye to the Democrats
First, the whole “You’re with Hitler” argument I keep hearing is equally inappropriate as it is unhelpful. For as many flaws as President Donald Trump has, committing the Holocaust isn’t one of them. Drawing such comparisons is tantamount to dismissing the chilling atrocities committed at places like Auschwitz Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau. We do need to be mindful of how humans reached such depravity, but petty name-calling falls well short of that thoughtful standard.
Neither is every Republican culpable for the beliefs of other Republicans. At this juncture, the ideological rifts within the GOP are obvious. The old lines that the party once held are fractured and broken. Such upheaval strikes me as an opportunity rather than reason to leave. A non-existent Republican policy orthodoxy opens up a wide range of conversations that weren’t politically tenable just a few years ago. Smart criminal justice reforms, genuine conservation policies, and full-throated defense of civil liberties are just a few examples.
Should I extricate myself from those productive discussions and disavow all things Republican because Trump is popular with the party and some party members are objectively horrible humans?
For some of my friends, the answer remains, “Yes!”
But then what?
Imagine yet another educated Republican issuing a manicured statement about his party leaving him and his classically liberal roots. He laments the populist rage that has overtaken the party, but he, given his sterling character and insight, will depart, head held high, knowing he would not go down such a dark, benighted path.
That’s fancy talk for “I’m better than you, so I quit.” Most Republicans I know would happily give that guy a boot in the butt on the way out. I don’t blame them a bit.
That deserter will have no voice to shape the party. He can’t fight for its future. He’s either hoping to moderate the Democratic Party or that we all see the light of being independent.
As much as I’d like to believe that either of those options is viable, I don’t see evidence of such trends. Democrats are wrestling with a new strain of progressive that is taking the party further towards the left than it’s been in a long time despite the success of centrist candidates. The number of true independents is important in close elections, but not much else.
In short, leaving the party because I don’t always agree with Trump proportionally increases the likelihood that the party’s illness of politician worship worsens. I didn’t appreciate Democrats who believed that President Barack Obama could do no wrong. Why would I contribute to the same phenomenon in the Republican Party? It’s certainly frustrating to be a minority within my own party at times, but ideological homogeneity isn’t ever healthy for political groups.
Giving up on the GOP is throwing in the towel on half the country. We’re all in this together whether we like it or not. Democrats who believe that people like me should leave the GOP seem to miss the reality that I’m not about to become a Democrat. I definitely share some common policy goals with Democrats, but we’re often going to disagree on methods. I’m also pro-life. As long as such a perspective isn’t truly welcome in the Democratic Party, neither am I.
In spite of my refusal to leave the Republican Party, I will hold out an olive branch: Ban party identification altogether on ballots around the country. I’m fine with voter guides at polling places which detail relevant candidate positions, but we should end politics as a team sport. We shouldn’t vote for people because they are Republican or Democrat. We should cast our votes for candidates we believe are best equipped to hold the offices they seek.
As the old assumptions have broken down, the labels don’t mean nearly as much. With party off the ballot, change the primary systems to top two. The two candidates with the most votes run in the general election. It saves taxpayers money with fewer races, and it ensures that the voters have the most competitive general election possible.
If Democrats want to take me up on that, we can ride off into post-partisan sunset. Otherwise, I’ll be right where I belong–a happy warrior and sometimes antagonist in the Republican Party.