I believe in marriage equality. I believe in a clear and manageable path to citizenship for immigrants coming into the United States. I believe in a sensible drug policy that allows for the legalization of marijuana. I believe in a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. I believe in equality for all races and ethnicities to be a part of the fabric of this country. I believe in freedom of religion as long as it is kept separate from the making of legislation. I am a Republican.
I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am a registered Republican, as made evident by the fact that I'm writing it in a blog post. I don't believe that this aspect of my personality is something to keep a secret for fear that everyone will judge me as a bigot, sexist and religious zealot -- because I'm not. I believe in the values listed above because they, in a world governed by logic and thought, have no bearing on my party affiliation.
When people question my politics and find that I stand with liberals on most social issues, I am often told to just switch my party because there's no honor in going down with the particular sinking ship that is the GOP. To them I say that the ship will do just fine once we throw some of the unnecessary cargo overboard. That cargo includes those who stand behind a podium with my party's backing spouting off nonsense like that of Todd Akin or Rick Santorum who think that an "informed electorate" means an inherently Christian one. That cargo also includes those who stand quietly next to them too cowardly to speak from a place of sanity for fear that they will lose conservative votes. The issues are simply too important for this nonsense to be entertained. A ship without that cargo is, and always has been, worth staying aboard.
I am a Republican because I believe in a free market economy and Reagan-era principles (otherwise known as Alexander Hamilton-style principles for establishing a nation). I hold to the idea that it is a government's job to provide protection for its citizens and that it requires a highly equipped and well-trained military to do so. I feel strongly that there are social programs enacted by the U.S. government that work but many more that do not, at great expense to the American taxpayer. While I believe in a woman's right to choose, I also believe that life begins at conception and refuse to let a check box on a registration form dictate how I'll come to terms with this argument. These are the values that make me a Republican, and these are the unwavering beliefs that my party once held dear. Today, the political discourse of the GOP has taken a strange turn toward a heavily Christian moral code. I understand the idea of people not wanting to indirectly fund programs and values that they don't personally believe in. Our country guarantees them that freedom. However, our country guarantees everyone freedom, so there is no absolute right answer. Take "marriage equality," the new buzz term that both Democrats and Republicans alike seem to be using because it sounds less polarizing than "gay rights." On one side, you have people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that the government has no place to force same-sex marriage on them.
However, the government apparently does have a right to restrict the freedoms of gays and lesbians. Everyone is not going to be happy with the end result of this debate. The question then becomes this: whose freedoms are worth protecting? The people who don't want to tolerate something, or the people whose rights are being sacrificed? I'm not a bad Republican for siding with the latter. However, that is exactly what mainstream Republicans would call me. Democrats are no better because they simply lump me in with them saying that I'm "close enough" -- I'm not. I'm also not special or unique, and I speak on behalf of a great number of registered Republicans who are also sane, hardworking and compassionate Americans.
I would like my party back. Right now it is in the hands of a group of cowards who feel that the only way to keep a political backing is to cater to the limited thinkers of the world, those who feel like no one else is listening to them. The once great old party has to stop entertaining the ideas of these backwards thinking "Republicans" and give the two-party system a viable second party once again. Don't call these people "Republicans," because that name is reserved for people with a set of values worth fighting for. I don't know what these people are but their time in the spotlight is through.
This blog post originally appeared in the Daily Campus.