Megan McArdle posed this challenge on Twitter today:
Reminder: Republicans who will stay home or vote for another party for 1st time if it’s Trump, I want your stories! email@example.com
— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) February 28, 2016
I felt I had to try to answer it.
I’m an eighteen – year GOP activist in Houston. I’ve knocked on doors for candidates, run elections, mentored and trained precinct leaders, served on committees, participated in conventions, you name it. When I didn’t think the GOP was adequately defending my values and ideals, I started the Houston Tea Party seven years ago to help remind them. But I’m struggling with the concept of Trump as the GOP nominee. I don’t see how I can vote for him, though it’s my duty as a party leader to get Republicans elected.
Those values and ideals aren’t labels I slap on and take off like name tag stickers at political events. Those things are written on my heart; they’re embedded into my brain. They are the substance of my conversation, the measure by which I live, the stories I tell my children to shape their worldview. They have meaning to me. They ARE me.
My trouble with Trump is that I don’t know what HE is. We’re used to the trope of politicians saying anything to get elected, mostly because we have the experience so often repeated. But even politicians of the modern type most often choose a lane – he’s a fiscal hawk, she’s a progressive socialist – and maintain relations with those who support those stances. And their positions tend to result in actions taken to further the goals they have in common with their base. It’s not a perfect measure, but it tells you whose opinions and votes they value, who they listen to.
Who does Trump respect? Whose opinion does he value? To whom does he listen? I have bookmarked and studied article after article, interview upon interview, since last spring and still I cannot answer that question. And my best guesses don’t inspire confidence in an America led by Trump.
I have an obligation to my country that I take seriously. I am wholly disturbed by the thought of a Clinton presidency, because I am pretty sure I know what it will look like. I am equally disturbed at a Trump presidency because I have absolutely no idea what it would look like.
I will certainly support down-ballot Republicans in November, and I will work hard to prevent Trump’s nomination now, but beyond that, I have much soul-searching as to what I will do with a Trump nomination.
Thank you for asking the question. I hope people seriously consider it.