The emergence of Donald a Trump as the front runner in the Republican presidential primaries has caused a rift in the grandest of political parties.
In fact, the rift is so great that there are a number of Republican voters – Conservatives and Evangelicals- promising, that if Trump emerges as the nominee, they will either stay home in November, or leave the party altogether. Just so we are clear, I count myself among the latter. I held my nose and voted for John McCain; I was more enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, but I will not pull the lever for Donald Trump now or at anytime in the foreseeable future.
The response to the, uhm, unease surrounding Trump has been varied. There has been the dismissal, “You were never a true believer in the American cause to begin with.” There has also been the appeal to both pragmatism and party loyalty in the face of an assault on American values. “Choosing not to vote or abandoning the party is actually a vote FOR Hillary!” (Frankly, a Trump/Hillary election represents either the frying pan or the fire, but okay.)
Both of these responses interest me and bring to mind a quote I believe is from Frederick Douglas. Douglas said, “Men are not made for parties, but parties for men.”
Whether I am and continue to be a believer in the cause of America requires that we understand the American cause beyond political slogans about greatness or hope. The cause of America has always been Liberty. Liberty is the main idea articulated in the Declaration of Independance and it is Liberty that the Constitution seeks to protect. For the life of me, I’ve yet to hear Donald Trump articulate any thought that leads me to believe that he shares my view of the American cause, or that he has even glanced at the Constitution since his days in prep school.
I registered as a Republican because to me the Republican Party spoke more closely to the values of limited government, equality under the law, free market capitalism, and American exceptionalism than did the other major party. The nomination of Donald Trump will be a clear signal to me that the Republican Party (already on shaky ground with me) has not only moved away from those values, but has abandoned them altogether. As Douglas so eloquently puts it, “parties are made for men.” The point at which any political party ceases to represent my beliefs and values, is the point at which I leave that party, seek out citizens of a like mind, and either join or form a new party. I owe the party nothing.
Loyalty to party rather than ideal is what got us in this mess in the first place.