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I recently had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with an individual who, without a doubt, is a Republican Party loyalist. By that I mean, one who will support the Republican Party no matter how far it drifts away from it’s original values. Throughout our discussion, this individual made it very clear that Republican-leaning conservatives should rally around Donald Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton. I believe the exact words were: “If you’re not going to get on board, then you better get out”.
Now, I’m certain that this individual is someone who cares deeply about our country, and they must be horrified by the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming President of the United States. While I certainly share this concern, it begs a very important question: As a Republican-leaning conservative, do I have the obligation to support Donald Trump during the general election?
My answer, quite frankly, is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I refuse to play the “lesser of two evils” game for any longer. I refuse to be a mindless drone that follows a political party regardless of how far they drift away from their values and principles. Finally, I refuse to buy into the idea that, by not voting for Trump, I am essentially voting for Hillary. These toxic ideas have plagued our political arena for long enough, and I refuse to fall victim to this ego-boosting rhetoric.
Every Presidential election cycle (this one in particular), I am inundated with the idea that we are supposed to vote for “the lesser of two evils”. Sure, Donald Trump may be a bad guy, but hey, Hillary Clinton would be a heck of a lot worse. This argument may have worked when the GOP nominated pseudo-conservatives, such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, but anyone who follows politics can see that Donald Trump is on a whole different level.
If I am limited to only two choices, both of which are highly undesirable, why should I violate my conscience by voting for either one of them? Am I obligated to support the power of a political party, or am I obligated to stand for my principles? Instead of limiting myself to two horrendous choices, I believe it is my duty to vote according to my principles and my values.
This is not to judge anyone who votes for Donald Trump, or even Hillary Clinton for that matter. Your vote belongs to you, and you are entitled to vote for whomever you believe in. My vote, on the other hand, belongs to me and is dictated by a strict adherence to the Constitution. My vote belongs, not to a political party, but to me. I vote for the person that I think will best represent my values, my principles, and the United States Constitution. If neither nominee reflects these characteristics, why should I feel compelled to vote for either one of them?
Part of the problem lies in this “Party-First” mentality, which has been having a destructive impact on American society. In the modern political arena, if you are Republican, you must support every Republican candidate, regardless of whether or not they adhere to conservative principles. The needs of the political party take priority, even if it means electing someone who skews conservative beliefs in a negative way.
The same argument can be made in regards to the Democratic Primary, in which many voters support Bernie Sanders. However, due to the superdelegate system, Hillary Clinton will clinch the nomination because party insiders have determined its in the party’s best interest. Unfortunately, on the Republican side, there has been a decreasing focus on the Constitution, and an increasing focus on who can ensure that the party stays in power. While the Democratic Party has been destroying the Constitution for years, it is disappointing that certain conservative sell outs are willing to compromise principles for party power.
Another theme that party loyalists seem to beat their drum to is the argument that: “If you don’t vote for Trump, you will be, essentially, casting a vote for Hillary”. This argument is a bunch crock, and anyone who uses it needs to take some serious time to reflect upon what is really driving their political decisions. Again, my vote belongs to ME. If I choose to follow my convictions and vote for a third party candidate, that is MY choice. If I choose to write-in a candidate that I believe in, that is MY choice. Neither of these actions are a vote, or an endorsement, for Hillary Clinton, nor are they a vote or an endorsement for Donald Trump.
I assure you, it is possible to be anti-Trump without being pro-Hillary, and vice-versa. We should not allow ourselves to be defined solely by a political party or an individual candidate. This election is not about Donald Trump. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not even about the Republican or Democratic Parties. It is about bringing America back to its constitutional principles, and supporting the individuals who adhere to these principles.
In conclusion, if my only options are to “get on board, or get out”, then I will have to say, in good conscience, that I will choose the later option. I will continue to support, and vote for, the state and local candidates who reflect the values and principles that I hold. I will continue to support the ideas that I believe in. However, Donald Trump is a man who has spent his life subscribing to liberal ideals, and has defined his character through amoral actions. If I were to throw my support behind Trump, I would be forced to violate my deepest held principles.
During the 2016 General Election, I urge all voters to vote based on their convictions. If you strongly believe that Donald Trump’s divisive and derogatory approach will “Make America Great Again”, then vote for him. If you believe that Hillary Clinton’s progressive-minded, politically-correct propaganda will reignite what makes American great, then vote for her. I refuse to be a pawn for either candidate, and no, I will not support Bernie Sanders either. If you are, like me, unsatisfied with both of these options, I encourage you to find a candidate who you can conscientiously throw your support behind. Don’t continue to let egotistical grabs for party power influence how you vote.