The very first vote I cast in my life as an 18-year old was for George W. Bush. Four years later, I did it again.
For the past decade, the Republican Party has veered so far to the right that I have come to loathe their positions. This is not the party I grew up with. This is not the party I supported. This is not the party that is fit to lead this country.
As a political science major at The George Washington University at the turn of the millennium, I took great pride in being one of the few outspoken Republicans in my classes. Before and after 9/11, which took place during my junior year, I leaned conservative on matters of foreign policy and terrorism.
Despite the economy humming due to the dot.com boom, I still believed government was too big and taxes were too high. While I still firmly hold to both of those beliefs, I wrongly believed that conservative fiscal policies were aimed at addressing those issues.
The final three years of Bush’s presidency served as an unmasking, like Wizard of Oz’s revealing. We never found those WMDs in Iraq. The war dragged on for far too long, took too many lives and cost too much money. Our entire economic struggle crumbled in such a spectacular way that it has taken nearly a decade to recover.
Yet I still supported John McCain in 2008. Seven years later, I am so thankful John McCain lost.
Following Barack Obama’s election, the Republicans lost their way. The strategy to be anti-Obama in every possible way made the obstructionist party. It worked on a very local scale, so it now wields power in Congress and on the state level. It also worked to grind our government to a halt.
I wrote during the last government shutdown how the GOP desperately needed a new public relations strategy. Saying “no” to everything is an awful, terrible, infantile way to lead. This week, John Boehner has againthreatened a shutdown – this time for the Department of Homeland Security. It is the equivalent of a 12 year-old throwing a temper tantrum. It’s embarrassing and unbecoming.
Instead of extending their hands across the aisle, the party turned Fox News into its megaphone to shout out its propaganda and, at times, outright lie about the state of affairs.
On almost every front, the GOP has been out of step with the general public and my viewpoints. I am the stereotypical American voter – fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
The most frustrating aspect of the conservative’s social positions is the reliance on religion to motivate policy. I was raised Roman Catholic. I was taught that homosexuality was a sin and, to be honest, I believed it for a while. But eventually, I grew up, I became educated and I changed my positions.
When Connecticut passed a Civil Union law, I interviewed several gay couples in eastern Connecticut for a series on what it meant. It remains one of the more amazing moments of my journalistic career, with grown men and women crying as they thanked me for telling their story. It struck me as so profoundly sad – in particular, two women from Coventry who were raising a child and were subject to constant harassment. That struck me as wrong.
The opposition to gay marriage annoyed me to no end since I have been a firm believer of the separation of church and state. You know, like it says in the Constitution that conservatives like to tout while raising guns above their heads.
In the past several years, the GOP has been diametrically opposite to me on too many issues. After Newtown and countless other mass shooting, I believed we need to find a way to improve gun control in this country – the GOP opposed. I believe we need a better way to deal with immigration, so while President Obama comes forward with a plan, the GOP stomps its feet.
I am for legalizing marijuana, the GOP is not. In fact, I live in DC and our district’s vote seemed to matter little to Republicans who don’t even represent me.
I am for providing health care to all citizens, the GOP is not.
I am strongly opposed to the current status of military-style policing, while the GOP seems to think nothing is wrong.
But undoubtedly, the final straw is when the GOP takes a position against the truth.
Global warming – now commonly referred to as climate change – is not a theory. Just because Al Gore made so much hay with it does not change the fact it exists. Yet, every now and then, a GOP moron like Donald Trump will let us know one day of cold weather disproves it.
Evolution is also not a theory. Yet a presumed Republican front-runner for the most powerful position in the free world “punted” when asked about it.
The most damning part for the GOP is that for all their bluster on the economy, it finally started to truly recover and may start to thrive. I don’t believe the government has that much power to improve the economy as there are quite literally a million variables in play. But I do believe a government’s policy can easily hurt the economy. President Bush left it in ruins. At the very least, you must admit Obama’s economic policy has not had a negative effect.
In the end, I am disappointed. The party that I supported so fiercely for my first quarter-century on this planet abandoned me. It got run over by the extreme, to answer to Tea Party activists and shine a light on “leaders” like Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz who are unfit for national political office.
It blew my mind during the 2014 mid-term election season when the GOP ran so hard on an anti-Obama stance and the Democrats, apparently not familiar with branding, distanced themselves for Obama without a clear distinction of their direction. They lost badly, which seems insane now as the economy cranks up while the approval rating for Obama and Obamacare shoot past 50 percent.
The Republican Party, as it stands right now, has zero chance to win the Presidency in 2016. There is only one way back – to swallow their pride, to stop obstructing government and to start leading again.
Action is better than inaction. Since they haven’t figured that out in 6+ years, I doubt they will in the next 20 months.