“I didn’t leave the Democrat Party. The party left me.”
– Ronald Reagan, 1962
On September 12th, 1974, I got to attend a Republican fund-raiser dinner in Indianapolis, where Ronald Reagan, the former Governor of California, was the Keynote Speaker. I walked in to that event thinking of myself as a Democrat. Since I grew up in what many would call a Blue Dog Democrat area of Indiana and I was raised by Greatest Generation Democrats, what else could I possibly be? However, due to the disillusionment I and many in my generation experienced over our nation’s failed leadership relative to the Vietnam War, in 1968 and again in 1972, I voted for Richard Nixon, the Republican Candidate for President. Understandably, that left me questioning my alignment with the Democrat Party. That evening, I went home with that questioning answered. As I listened to Governor Reagan express his views, I recognized that they were identical to mine and that I’d had the same experience that he did … I hadn’t left the Democrat Party, it had left me. I went home that evening clearly understanding that I was what would become known as a Reagan Republican.
“If the Republican Party nominates Trump.
I WILL HEAR FROM MY FATHER’S GRAVE
“I DIDN’T LEAVE THE PARTY THE PARTY LEFT ME”
– Michael Reagan, 2016
Though, at times, I have felt like this election season is killing me, I haven’t had to say it from the grave yet but I have been saying the very same thing. Sadly, now, the “if” is gone. Donald Trump is the presumptive presidential nominee of the GOP. My being driven back to the Democrat Party will not be the result of the Republican Party leaving me in this way, however. I will not vote for Trump but neither will I vote for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democrat Party.
IS IT THE SAME AS VOTING FOR HILLARY?
Of course, there are those who will say, “Not voting for Trump is the same as a vote for Hillary.” That’s ridiculous! If I went out and registered as a Democrat, would my not voting for Hillary be a vote for Trump? No! In fact, since Trump is more likely than any other GOP candidate to lose to her, I think it’s more logical and accurate to say that those who have voted for Trump in the primaries were actually voting for Hillary in the Fall. They are the ones who have set up these circumstances, not those who, in good conscience, can’t vote for either party’s candidate.
PUTTING AMERICA FIRST!
Many Trump supporters are identifying those like me as Cruz supporters. That isn’t the case. And, their manipulative approach to us is to foment fear about the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, the diminishing of 1st and 2nd Amendment Rights, open borders, etc.; all couched in their plea for us to “Put America First.” How arrogant is that to say that those of us who refuse to vote for Clinton or Trump aren’t putting America first?! It IS our way of putting America first and fighting for it in the way we believe we must!
WE CAN DO BETTER!
Regardless of whether Hillary wins or Trump wins, the end result that their supporters have chosen is that the past 8 years are to be extended by another four. We are incredibly distant from the America that the Greatest Generation handed to my generation and from the GOP that Ronald Reagan got me to understand was my party. Rather than continuing to latch on to the next seeming quick fix, I say “Let’s use the next four years to build a viable new party that truly represents Conservative U.S.” Even going into my 70s, I’ll support this with all the time and energy. I can muster. Clinton and Trump are two evils, none the lesser. Their supporters have chosen to support candidates who I and others will not, in good conscience, choose to vote for. They bear the burden of the results of their choices (including their crystal ball view of Justices Trump would appoint, etc.), not us. And I would say to them, “Please don’t continue to try to guilt us into abusing the sacred privilege God has given us in getting to choose who to vote for and whether or not to vote at all.”
I have, now, voted for President 12 times. I’ve experienced some triumphs, some tragedies and all too many choices of the lesser of two evils. In my view, the most triumphant of these were the elections of the best President in my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. For that reason I find it outrageously ridiculous for anyone to favorably compare either of the current presumptive nominees with President Reagan. Consider this as an example:
President Reagan, famously, stood at the Brandenburg Gate and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” We all know the overwhelmingly victorious outcome of that statement, delivered with both strength and respect. Now, put Clinton or Trump in that setting. Madam Hillary would have claimed that the wall was put in place because Gorbachev and his predecessors were misogynists and the Donald would have made fun of the port wine stain on his head. Any possible victorious outcome resulting from either of those scenarios would have come at an overwhelming cost in American blood and treasure. Can we not do better than that?! I believe we can but it will require us to find a way for us to regain our greatest strength – i.e. being the America where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We can only do that through learning to, again, listen to each other instead of just shouting at each other and becoming more and more polarized. I suggest building a viable new party that truly represents Conservative U.S. as a crucial step in attaining that goal.