Surprise! I'm a registered Republican, and have been since 2003. I distinctly remember marching into the voter registration off and excitedly checking that Republican box. (Funny story: a friend who had also recently turned 18 went with me and accidentally registered as a Republican because she got confused.) As a college freshman I proudly wore a George Bush is my Homeboy t-shirt and went door-to-door campaigning for him. I was all in.
In 2008 my beliefs were changing, but I still mostly voted along party lines. It wasn't until 2012 that I began to actually research the candidates and vote for them based on what they stood for, instead of what party they were in. At that time in my life I'd just come out of a very very conservative place in my life, attending a very evangelical & conservative megachurch. So in 2012 I was visiting a different denomination each month and trying to figure out what I believed, both in my faith and my politics. That was the first time I voted for a Democrat for President.
But the past 14 years I have never changed my political affiliation. I may be a socially liberal Republican, but I am a Republican in many ways. So I say:
My fellow Republicans:
It's time to stand up. It's time to stop looking at issues just as a Republican. The truth is that neither party really represents most of us anymore. Most of us are in the middle. I'm socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but really I just think the government should - for the most part - stay out of our bedrooms (and bathrooms) and our wallets. I know many of my friends and family disagree with me on some issues. That's ok. We can all still belong in the Republican party! There's room for all of us here.
The problem is that our leadership is so far on the extremes. You have Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, who are probably the worst candidates either party could have offered. Neither of them really represent us. Neither of them represent middle America. Neither of them represent the middle class, let alone the working class. Neither of them represent most of us who are just trying to get by. We were kinda screwed either way this year.
Here's the thing, my fellow Republicans. If you're like me, this last election cycle was hell. It was all too much. So I stuck my head in the sand. I couldn't believe what was happening, so I shut down. And I know a lot of other people did the same.
That time is over.
Wake up. Pull your head out of the sand or wherever you've had it hidden, and look around. I'm not asking you to march against Trump. I'm not even asking you to openly claim an opinion on Facebook. And I'm definitely not asking you to agree with me.
What I am begging you to do is OPEN YOUR EYES. Look at the bills being introduced in Congress. Read the executive orders being signed. Find out what bills are being introduced in your state.
Do your research. Educate yourself. Understand what is happening in our country right now. Listen to other people's thoughts and opinions. Get your news from multiple sources, not just Fox News (or CNN). Most outlets have a bias one way or another. Don't rely on just one.
And, whether you agree or disagree with what's going on, SPEAK UP. Take a few minutes to email your legislators. Better still, call them and actually speak to a live human being. Or best of all, show up to an event where you can speak to your legislator in person.
However you do it, just do it.
If we all band together, we can make a difference. It can be for the Republican cause, for the Democratic cause, or for the love of God, just for the sake of the American People.
So please, I beg of you, let's stop fighting with each other and focus on what is actually happening in our government right now. Before it's too late.
Not sure how to get started? Here are some resources to check out:
- Call the Halls: Contacting Your Representatives the Smart Way - this is a "pay what you want" guide, but if money is an issue you can totally get it for free. Just enter 0 and download.
- Countable - this is a new (& free) app that offers summaries of new bills and lets you contact your legislators easily (calling or in person contact is still best, though)
- GovTrack - track legislation as it moves through Congress
If you have any other resources, please share them and I'll update the list! And remember: it's totally ok to share your opinion on social media, but you damn well better be sharing that opinion to your legislators where it will actually make a difference. Otherwise you're wasting all of our time.