I became a voting Republican when Ronald Reagan ran for his first term in 1980. I was all of 21 years old and I bought into the vision of a meritocracy where all would be welcomed regardless of color, gender, or national origin. I believed in the pro-military, fiscally conservative, and socially liberal view of the world. I’ve harbored second thoughts about my party membership from time to time, especially when the “Party of Less Government” injected itself into the most sensitive of issues-a woman’s right to choose. Cooler heads prevailed and I determined there was no need to change my political affiliation. That all changed almost two years ago and I have been contemplating my political alliance since attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The Republican Party of today is no longer the Party of Lincoln. The GOP more resembles a band of angry white people looking to blame others for their perceived misfortunes and bash the crap out of anyone, figuratively and literally, who dares to disagree with their leader’s statements or views, no matter the level of outlandishness, rudeness or truthfulness. His acolytes seem perfectly fine with his characterization of the Press as the, “enemy of the people” and ready to forget that the Press exposed the lies that cost thousands of American lives in Vietnam, or that the Press exposed the crimes of the Nixon Administration, or further that the Press was the first of the Constitutionally protected entities provided for by our founders.
I looked on in stunned disbelief as the President of the United States provided moral equivalency to the white supremacists calling for the death of Jews with the people protesting their vile message. I witnessed the President calling for the arming of educators when a crazed gunman murdered high school students in a Florida school. The President’s public embrace of a politician who chose to throw a punch at a reporter rather than an intellectual or even clever response when pressed disgusted me. And finally this weekend, when another killer mowed down worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the President saw fit to criticize the management of a baseball game and joke about having a bad hair day.
To CBS, CNN, and MSNBC, whom I give partial credit for the President’s electoral win by giving him unearned attention, whose reporters bristle daily at his lack of compassion, empathy, or grace, I ask when will you realize there will never be a time when President Trump will behave in a manner befitting his office? When will they realize as I have that day is not coming. When will those who I used to hold in high regard, like Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham, stand up and be men of honor and integrity, like their deceased colleague John McCain? That day too is not in the offing.
Who am I? I am a person who has given almost forty years of his adult life to a dream that Ronald Reagan once described as a “shining city on a hill.” I am a black man from the South who has suffered scorn and ridicule for more than thirty years because I dared to declare myself, in the presence of black and white people alike, a Republican. Yesterday was the last of those days as today was the first day of early voting in my state. Rather than vote the party-line as I have done in years past, I voted for candidates that I felt could do the people’s work the best, regardless of their party affiliation. Who am I? I am no one. I am just an American who believes that every vote counts. I am simply one vote and I believe and pray there are millions more like me.
I, like a few others, have concluded that I am not leaving the Republican Party. The Republican Party, has disgracefully, unbelievably, sadly, and undeniably left me.
I am too fiscally conservative to become a Democrat. I am too conservative in my fundamental beliefs of what is appropriate in the reach and size of government to ever declare myself a Democrat. I am also of the opinion that standing on the sidelines and not participating is as un-American as the bullying and rants I’ve seen come from President Trump and his followers.
With great sadness, I must now declare myself an Independent, part of the largest growing political segment in America.