Since the spirited Republican National Convention that took place in July of 2016, I have ramped up political conversations not only about the past presidential election, but also concerning our current president, Donald Trump. After an exchange with one particular friend of mine, it occurred to me that a lot of people are entirely misunderstanding of where I am coming from.
This has become a pattern, so I have noticed, with many others who share my political views. I think a lot of the discrepancies are a result of the fear of being unfairly judged and ridiculed by those of different mindsets. We're so afraid of being called racist, sexist, homophobic, ignorant, and the like that we just collectively decide to stay silent. But I'm breaking the barrier because these are important clarifications, and I'm tired of inevitably shaming myself for what I believe in.
When I say I am a Republican, I do NOT mean I am racist or that I don't think black lives matter.
It does NOT mean police brutality doesn't disturb me. However, it does not mean I'm okay with violence against law enforcement either. Those of you who know me know that I am well-intended and truly mean no harm. So when I say I am a Republican, understand that the senseless murder of anyone breaks my heart.
Understand that I think police brutality is a disgrace from which everyone deserves protection and that it needs to be taken seriously and punished appropriately. But also understand that I am proud to show gratitude to the men and women who risk their lives to protect me and people I love every day. The brave souls who wear their uniforms the correct way are heroes who should never be taken for granted.
When I say I'm wary of thousands of Syrian refugees, I do NOT mean that I think all middle eastern people are terrorists.
I don't even mean that I think most of them are. I mean that I am aware of the dangerous people from whom they're trying to escape, and I fear that some of those very people hide among them. I don't mean that they are all threatening, but that it could only take one to cause more American tragedies. I also mean I don't know how many more we can realistically financially afford to take in. I do NOT mean that their lives don't matter. They very much do. I just mean that this is our home and that we should be cautious and fiercely protect our people first.
When I say I did not support Hillary Clinton, I do NOT mean that I am sexist and just didn't want a woman as president.
It is possible to form an opinion of a person based on more than just physical appearance, after all. On the contrary, I would love to see a woman be sworn in as our commander in chief and give my gender a little more representation. So it should tell you something that I would rather wait for someone with more integrity and servant leadership than have supported her just because she would be the first lady POTUS.
On a similar note, when I say I am against abortion, it does NOT mean I am against women's rights.
It is not some secret ploy to take away our freedom. I'm merely pointing out that a pregnancy directly involves two lives, one of whom literally cannot object. I understand that in the events of rape or a pregnancy being of physical threat to a woman, a case could be argued for exceptions. I do, in fact, have a lot of compassion here. Perhaps I should start clarifying that an abortion procedure feels like murder to me when the only reason behind it is convenience.
When I say I am a Republican, I do NOT mean I contribute to rape culture.
This one is personally extremely offensive. I do NOT victim blame or shame. I am a fierce believer in an individual's exclusive right to decide when, where, how, and with whom to express physical intimacy. I believe in teaching people not to rape instead of teaching them how to avoid getting raped. I believe in consent and healthy relationships. I believe in Survivors.
When I say I am a Republican, I do NOT mean I am homophobic.
I have always believed in equal rights and opportunities for LGBTQ individuals and couples. I have firmly stood against prejudiced behavior and intolerance. I believe they should be respected, protected and celebrated for embracing who they are.
I have thought long and hard about my feelings toward gay marriage. And, as a Catholic, I think I have come a long way in accepting that even though I was taught that marriage should be between a man and a woman, love and union should be open to everyone. God does not create mistakes. And I'm honestly just glad to see a little more love in such a cruel world.
When I say I am economically conservative, I do NOT mean that wealthy people are the only important people.
I do not mean that I don't care for those in poverty or for those who are less privileged. It means I believe in minimizing the power of the federal government. It means that I've studied economics and have discovered that conservatism most accurately fits all that I have learned. I know that minimum wage increases will suffocate and strong-arm small businesses and ultimately lead to closures, cut hours and jobs and increase national inflation as a whole.
I know that $18 trillion in debt scares the hell out of me. I believe that socialism discourages individual freedom, excellence and innovation. I believe in working hard and earning every dollar I make. I believe in the American Dream and tax cuts especially for the middle class. I believe in giving aid to the people who truly need it. And I mean that I'm tired of watching my single mother cry over not being able to afford healthcare for herself and her two kids supporting themselves in college because she lost her job a year ago, but Obamacare is as pricey as her monthly house mortgage.
Lastly, when I say I am a Republican, do not assume that I am a monster.
Accept that I may not have the same political views as you, but I mean no more harm than you do. When I say I am a Republican, I mean that I love my country, and even though I've grown used to keeping my mouth shut, I am damn proud of how I was raised and how I see the world, and I will stand for what I believe in.