Has the Grand Old Party Become a Big Ole Circus?

republicans-303843_640Since I first became interested in politics when I was thirteen years old, I have always identified with the Republican Party. I’ve never fully agreed with any one candidate, but Republican policy has always been more in line with my beliefs than that of any other party. For the most part, I have always been proud to be a Republican, standing up for individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, and the rule of law.

Yet whatever pride I may have had is now quickly diminishing. Watching the 2016 Republican candidates has been, to say the least, disenchanting. Although no single person is responsible, the one man circus act that is Donald Trump has been the ringleader.

Let me explain.

As I said before, I don’t have to agree 100% with candidates’ positions on issues for them to get my support. I do, however, expect them to be thoughtful, respectful, and principled. If I support someone, I want to know that they will make well reasoned choices when given leadership, even if I don’t wholly agree with their decisions.

The first red flag popped up when Donald Trump gave out Lindsey Graham’s phone number on national television. I didn’t know much about Trump before this, but I immediately saw him as impulsive, self absorbed, and petty, not exactly the characteristics I look for in a candidate. Then, as I began to watch him more closely, I learned that he is dishonest and unprincipled, willing to say and do anything that he thinks will win him more power.

For example, he has made it clear that he is willing to buy politicians, giving to their campaigns and organizations in order to receive favors. When he wanted favors from Hilary Clinton, he gave her money. Now he wants favors from the Republican Party, so he vilifies her. He has long been involved in lobbying, but he now says he will fight lobbying, stating that it is part of the problem in Washington. Of course, he denies that he was part of the problem when he was doing it because “it was just business.”

Trump does have a number of significant achievements under his belt. It takes a lot of hard work to build the kind of wealth and influence that he has. But I think that as he climbed higher and higher, he lost sight of who he was and forgot that you shouldn’t do something just because you can get by with it. With so much money and power, I imagine that it is easy to become self absorbed, impulsive, and disrespectful. The people that he dealt with before entering public life likely put up with it simply because he provided their paychecks. Yet that is not the case with the American people. Our support cannot be bought, and we shouldn’t ride the wave of entertainment that is the Trump phenomenon. We have the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty for that.

Of course, it’s not just Trump who has disappointed. I recently watched Rick Santorum in an interview with Rachel Maddow where he demonstrated that he fundamentally does not understand how congress, the court system, or the constitution work. He essentially said that congress should pass a law saying that the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage was wrong. The court is the institution that interprets the constitution, and if they say gay marriage is a constitutional right, then it is. Nothing can be done about that without either changing the constitution or having the court reexamine the issue. Congress can’t say the Supreme Court is wrong. It’s not an option.

During the first debate, Chris Christie essentially said that he supports unconstitutional (and immoral) NSA surveillance. When Rand Paul took issue with this, Christie hid behind the victims of 9/11. That is not the action of a man who is strong in his beliefs and who stands for what is right. That’s what a coward does to try to get ahead. It wasn’t the move of a thoughtful, respectful leader.

There are a few candidates who do seem reasonable and respectable such as Dr. Carson. However, the majority of the Republican candidates lack the self control and integrity that good leadership requires. Perhaps this is a reflection of the Republican voting base.

With his war on political correctness, Donald Trump has brought out the worst in the Republican Party. Respectfulness is a huge part of living in a pluralistic, civilized society, and it’s just plain decency. Yet he is waging war on it. Personally, if a man asks me to call him Mr. Smith, I will. If he want’s me to refer to him as John, I will. If an African American asks me to not call him black, I won’t. Nor will I call Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. The numbers just don’t show that to be true. And I certainly wouldn’t discount a woman’s implication that I might be a misogynist be implying that she was only saying that because she was on her period.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Donald Trump, and most of the other candidates too, were secretly Democrats trying to sink the Republican Party’s chances of having any influence for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, they’re not. They’re just Republicans trying to dig their way out of a sinking boat. I’m tempted to jump ship, but perhaps there’s still time to plug the hole.

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