I’m not mad, Republican Party. I’m just disappointed.
It should have been a piece of cake.
Everything was looking up for you, Grand Ol’ Party. Large numbers of Americans were fed up with the current Democratic administration; the pendulum was swinging back your way; the field of potential Republican nominees was vast and ripe for the picking. All you had to do was put up a competent, somewhat-likable candidate people could rally around, and the White House was yours.
Then you nominated Donald Trump.
The Democrats had put a big fat Christmas gift in your lap in the form of a challenger who’s almost universally considered dishonest, is under federal investigation, and is statistically the most disliked Presidential candidate in modern history (… well, second-most-disliked now. Apologies).
So what did you do? You hoisted upon the masses someone who’s also under federal investigation, is known for exaggerating the truth, and whose unfavorable ratings make Hillary’s look positively wonderful in comparison. You nominated perhaps the only candidate who could lose a general election to Hillary Clinton – and a man who half of the Republican Party isn’t even sure they would want to win in November if he could.
It’s not like you didn’t have a bountiful cornucopia of qualified, successful, popular leaders you could have chosen to carry the torch and take the Republican Party into the future. All you had to do was put their names on a wheel, spin it, and pick one — Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Nikki Haley, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindall, Rand Paul, Susanna Martinez, Tim Pawlenty, Paul Ryan, Condoleeza Rice, John Hunstman, Brian Sandoval, Mike Pence, Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, blah blah blah — the list goes on.
Ideologies and opinions on various politicians will always differ, but at least the party could have ultimately united around one of the many leaders who had actually accomplished something, was beloved by a majority of their constituents, and was at least a decent human being.
2016 was your chance to finally prove to the nation, and to the swarm of young new voters, that your party wasn’t the clueless laughingstock that “Hollywood” and “the media” made you out to be. To show how the Republican party was built upon the desire to embrace all Americans, and offer each of them – yes, despite wealth, class or creed – the chance to be successful and make their lives better. 2016 was your chance to show that the “American Dream” could still be alive and well in the party of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln.
Then you nominated Donald Trump.
But this isn’t about electability anymore, Republican Party.
It isn’t even about politics anymore.
This is about much more.
It’s about your future. About character and decency and all-around not-being-an-awful-person-ness.
Political opinions are a dime a dozen. But what you’ve allowed to transpire within your party this year is about much more than political persuasions and different viewpoints on policy. You’ve let a conman hijack the Republican Party and bend it to his will – and sane, rational Republican leaders are now beginning to kneel down to the would-be Caesar and kiss his ring.
It’s now obvious that millions of Americans agree with Donald Trump’s ideas, and with the statements he makes – and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe he actually is pointing out some legitimate things that need to be changed within the Republican Party, and within politics in general.
But why does that make him qualified to be the leader of the free world? Just because I’m able to point out the fact that my sink is broken doesn’t mean I should be trusted to mess around with the pipes. I call a plumber who actually knows what they’re doing.
Honestly, it’s fine that so many voters in your party agree with him. It’s a free country, and they can think and say what they want. I’m not interested in debating policy. We’ve been doing that for 240 years, and we’re still divided on just about everything.
The problem is that Trumpism has become a cult of personality – nothing to do with “conservatism” or Republican ideals. He doesn’t have any discernible “policies” other than vague notions and empty promises. His appeal is not in “solutions to problems,” but in catchy phrases meant to rile people up, tap into their fear, and help them feel vindicated. To make them think he’s going to “win” and that him “winning” will really be them “winning.”
For 8 years, Republicans have mocked Obama voters for falling for a few cute slogans – “Hope” and “Change” – while not seeing the man for who he “really” was. These same people are the ones falling even deeper for Donald Trump and “Make America Great Again.” All they know is that he’s going to make America “great” again (whatever that means), and that’s enough.
Look, I’m not going to lay out all the reasons Donald Trump is a horrible human being, it’s been done already (like here or here).
Enough people have already outlined all the ways he’s a bigoted, sexist, racist, egotistical, massively insecure, cynical liar who insults world leaders, mocks the disabled, condones illegal violence, attacks veterans for being POWs, kisses up to dictators, bases women’s worth on how attractive they are, refuses to support our only ally in the Middle East, brings in endorsements from the KKK, talks about how he’d like to be romantic with his daughter if she wasn’t related, and bankrupts business venture after business venture. No need to rehash it.
With each new day it becomes clearer how he is unfit, unqualified, and unprepared to be Commander-in-Chief.
The role of the President of the United States of America is too influential, too symbolic, and too important to hand over to a rabble-rousing opportunist with no backbone and no principles other than the burning desire to prop himself higher and higher and stroke his own ego in any way he can.
This YouTube-comments-section-in-human-form has built his entire “success” upon cheating others out of business deals, being handed everything on a silver platter, surrounding himself with weak-kneed yes men, bribing politicians, and taking advantage of ordinary citizens to get what he wants. Now he wants to be rewarded for those efforts with the highest office in the land. To give the Presidency to Donald Trump would be to glorify everything we say we despise as Americans.
So, Republican Party, you’ve made your choice.
Now you want us to “unify” and unite around your nominee? Around a man who gained popularity by implying he’d burn the Republican Party to the ground if he didn’t win the nomination?
Mmm, no thanks.
“Unify, for the sake of the party,” you say.
The “sake of the party” obviously wasn’t on your mind when you nominated Donald Trump.
Not to mention the irreparable damage a Donald Trump ticket does when all the down-ballot Republican senators, congressmen, governors and representatives up for election lose because normally-Republican-leaning voters don’t even bother showing up on Election Day. Donald Trump spells out disaster for your party.
Donald Trump is now the symbol of your party. Let that sink in.
The most un-Republican un-conservative candidate in your party’s history is now the standard-bearer for the Republican Party. Trump eagerly threw lies, threats and hateful smears towards anyone who didn’t properly worship at his altar, and now he wants to call himself “a unifier?”
Are we really that gullible?
What reason do you have to believe he’ll put forward conservative policies, or even appoint conservative justices? As history has proven, his word is worth as much as a degree from Trump University. Donald Trump cares only about amassing wealth, and right now votes are his currency. His penchant for telling people what they want to hear has gotten him this far – what makes you think he won’t sell you out to the next highest bidder?
Yes, Trump earned this spot through a democratic system of voting. He has support. But Republican leaders only now jumping on the Trump bandwagon in fear of the Republican Party (and their jobs) leaving them behind should be seen for what they are – spineless. True leaders stand by their convictions, explain why, and are willing to suffer the consequences. The outrage many Republican leaders felt towards Donald Trump’s rhetoric was palpable last year. Now, most are silent. Apparently too many GOP leaders are drunk at the punch bowl of conformity; and too few are willing to embarrass themselves by admitting they’re sober and offering to grab the car keys.
GOP, before you go and get mad at me, remember that we’ve had some pretty good times. I was rooting for you. I was excited to register as a Republican. I’ve been with you ever since, because I genuinely believe that most Republican policies and ideas work best for America. I’m your typical target audience: I’m not a fan of Obama, and I think Bush and Reagan did pretty good jobs. But Donald Trump’s “Republican Party” does not represent the majority of Americans. It does not represent me.
Trump is unlikely to win. But if he does, he endangers the Republican Party’s ability to survive. A President Trump forever changes the GOP’s identity. If Trump takes the White House, the Republican Party will always be remembered as the party that put him there. You may never be trusted again.
“For the sake of the party?” For the sake of the party, you should hope that Donald Trump doesn’t win in November.
If nothing else, Trump’s swift coronation by the “Religious Right” has shown how the so-called Evangelical vote in America has begun to forget its moral center. Christian leaders less concerned with principles, values, and truth than in retaining a political party’s power for power’s sake are not worth following.
If saying that ruffles your feathers, then so be it. Consider your feathers ruffled. Christians should be on the front lines, standing up to demagogues like Mr. Trump and reminding them that actions speak louder than words.
Instead, many of the same groups who had shouted and screamed about Clinton and Obama’s lack of “character” were wholeheartedly backing Trump months before he even locked your party’s nomination. He learned some church lingo, tickled their ears, and they enabled him to piggyback his way to a Republican victory.
When was the last time so many leaders in the Church supported someone who claims to never ask for God’s forgiveness (because he’s “never done anything worth asking forgiveness for”), owns strip clubs, supports partial-birth abortion (up until a few minutes ago at least), refuses to support Israel, says “you have to treat women like sh*t,” and brags about the numerous sexual experiences he’s had with “happily married women” while cheating on his wives?
But he says he has a “great relationship with God,” and that his favorite book of the Bible is “Two Corinthians,” so I guess that makes it all okay.
“THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS”
The rest of the choices are now gone. Reality has sunk in. What we all assumed would be an amusing sideshow quickly ending in a firestorm of “You’re Fired!” tweets, has dovetailed into the most unlikely of Presidential candidates in a general election. Donald Trump is now your only option to avoid Hillary Clinton being President. Apparently.
“Even if you don’t like him, you need to vote for the lesser of two evils,” you say.
You do know that Americans are not required to vote for only Republicans and Democrats, right? There is absolutely no chance a third-party candidate will win the Presidency – but perhaps that’s only the case because everyone shrugs it off as an impossibility. We could unify around a third party, or create a new party altogether. But we all think it won’t happen – so it won’t. The American voters, for however much they may despise their two options, will elect one of them into office because they think they are their only choices.
So you want me to vote for Donald Trump, because “at least he’s not as bad as her.”
Even if that’s the case, how can you ask me to give the only power I have in the way this country is governed – my vote – to a man who represents everything America’s founders fought a Revolution to escape?
Despite any conceivable positives, there is simply no scenario in which I will give history the satisfaction of looking back and asking me “why did you vote for Donald Trump?”
“It wasn’t what we really wanted, but it seemed like the only choice.” “We just went along with what everyone did.” It’s a stretch to compare not voting for Donald Trump to standing up to British tyranny in the 18th century, fighting against slavery in the 19th century South, or to voicing opposition to African-Americans being treated like second-class citizens in the 20th. Those were aspects of life that “everyone just went along with” in their day too, though. But a few people decided to stand up and be brave. This is America, and in America we fight for those taken advantage of. We stand up to the despots, the tyrants, and the bullies.
Sometimes in battle you have to fall back, regroup, and try to get stronger for the next fight. Republican Party, perhaps this is your best course of action now instead of pushing forward into battle and suffering even more casualties. Donald Trump does not care about you or me. His sole motivation in seeking the White House is Donald Trump. His entire life is one characterized by self-absorption, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement.
A President Trump would be a yuuuge disaster. A political environment where ridiculous statements, conspiracy theories, pathological lies and hateful threats are rewarded with your party’s nomination (and potentially the Presidency) will only inspire imitators. Donald Trump is hardly the end of this nightmare you’ve allowed to fester.
People want change. And rightly so. But this man, who has spent millions bribing politicians over the course of his life, wants you to believe that he’ll be the one to stop political cronyism? Your trust has been misplaced. Maybe it is time to take a cue from Donald Trump and rethink “politics as usual.” I’m all for getting an outsider in there who’s passionate about making the country a better place, and has concrete plans to do so. But as frustrated as we are with our government, it will never be the right time to consider such a vile, insecure, and reckless choice as this for President of the United States.
No matter how many arguments to deny him America’s votes arise, many consciences will remain clear about voting for Donald Trump. Your vote is your own. You must do what your gut tells you is right. But at least be willing to examine the man himself, and not just the (R) next to his name.
There are just too many of us who are unable, and unwilling, to support the man you’ve decided to trot out as your nominee, GOP. And for that, you will suffer the consequences. Either you will lose control of the federal government for four (or more) years, or your party will be symbolized by the most divisive American candidate in modern history. Time will only tell which outcome does more damage.
Voting for Hillary is just as repulsive to many of us, and a third-party candidate’s chances may be a pipe dream. But what if this election became about more than just who could win? Going to the voting booth is perhaps one the simplest, least-brave actions we can take as American citizens. But what if we chose to be brave with our vote?
What if we chose to shut this man down once and for all, and not allow him to bully his way into the Oval Office?
What if we reminded the Republican Party that maybe, just possibly, there are bigger things at stake than which political group sits in the White House the next four years?
I don’t presume to know the best decision for us to make at this moment in our nation’s history. There are no easy answers here. But I’ve been to his rally. I’ve seen Donald Trump speak in person. He is not being edited by the “media” to appear as something he is not.
As the election grows closer, it will only be easier for Republicans to fall into the trap. We’re seeing it already. GOP leaders are coming out of the woodwork to “apologize” on his behalf, talk about how he’s really not that bad, and how he’s “sticking it to the establishment. Booyah, screw you, Washington!”
No, he is an egotistical liar and your party is actively painting his multitude of sins as merely the “eccentric” behavior of a successful leader to retain power. The fact that we’re still even entertaining him as a viable candidate would be laughable if it weren’t so alarming.
Look, Republican Party, I don’t hate Donald Trump. I wish him the best. If he is our next President, I would hope he does a good job. But even on the off-chance he’s elected and even-more-off-chance he’s considered a good President, I’ll still be glad I didn’t vote for him.
His path to success in business, reality TV, and politics has been marked by personal gain above all else, and has stood in direct opposition to the ideals America was founded on. Donald Trump’s is not a story we should look up to, champion, or admire.
I may not have the same level of optimism I once placed in you, Republican Party, but I am still optimistic about America. We’re better than this. In America, we’ve always prided ourselves in sticking up for the little guy, and standing up to the bullies – Standing up to people like Donald Trump.
So that’s why I can’t make our date this November, GOP. I just feel like we need to see different people, and you need some time to find yourself.
Please don’t hate me. I hope we can still be friends.
© Matt Tory, 2016.
Featured image via: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5440392565
Other images courtesy of: flickr.com/gageskidmore