When I turned 18, I was excited about many things, mostly being able to vote. In our constitutional republic, the most direct and effective way to make our voices heard is through the ballot. So when the presidential primaries came around, I vigorously researched all candidates who appealed to me most and voted. Then when the person I did not vote for became the Republican candidate for president, I shrugged my shoulders and trusted that the party I usually affiliate with had made the best choice. I could not have been more wrong.
When November came around and it was time to vote for my president, I was faced with two candidates, and I did not want either representing me on a national or global scale. One one hand, there was Hillary, who (putting all scandals aside) could not pick one position on any important issue and stick with it. I wanted a candidate who believed in what they were fighting for, not doing whatever it takes to get votes. On the other hand, there was the prominent businessman Donald Trump, whose single appeal was the fact that he went against the usual bipartisan grain that has been slowly chewing this nation apart. While I saw the appeal with the latter, I refused to vote for a candidate that did not represent my ethical compass and would not be the face of a good leader, regardless of action. So I did what many said would be a waste, and voted third party.
I had associated myself with the Republican party officially ever since I could drive, due to the motor voter law in place. I never voted straight ticket (neither should you) and researched all options as best as I could. For the most part, I found myself continually agreeing with the Republican party on most stances. But as time went on, I quickly became wary of the party I had once adored. It started with the separation of church and state and was finalized with the election of the president. Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones said it best concerning man and power:
"There is a beast in every man and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand."
The Republican party has elected a man who perfectly illustrates the quote above. The idea that there exists a man who is incorruptible by the theater of politics is nice, but it is not Trump. Completely disregarding what he has done policy wise, Trump, due to his actions as a man, is not a president that I am proud to present to someone from another country and is certainly not someone I would consider a well kept and sound leader for this great nation. The Republicans have unleashed a beast in Trump, and have shown that they cannot control it.
It has become very clear that one of the chief desires of the Republican party is the intermingling of religion (primarily Christianity) and law. At first, this made sense to me especially considering that I am a Christian. But regardless of how much I want my faith to influence the laws by which I abide, it is not ethical or fair to subdue everyone else to the same authority that I recognize. Without getting into the apologetic and philosophical argument of the origin of morality and law, America is a melting pot of cultures and religions, and the authority which governs our laws cannot be derived from one belief and forced onto others. The Republican party seems to completely ignore this critical idea in both the separation of church and state as well as fairness to all citizens and allows their faith to dictate the lives of others. Not only is the indirect forcing of Christianity/any other religion a poor representation of what the church is actually about, it is also an abuse of power and sacrifices freedom for perceived piety. Christians are not called to be judges of man's actions, but to love one another and show Christ through our actions. It is the role of God to judge our actions and sins and deal with us accordingly, and trying to force salvation on everyone that does not agree with you is going to have a negative consequence, especially if it is through the state or national law. There can be Christians in office who have Christian motivation and desires, but these motivations and desires cannot dictate who gets equal treatment, and who does not.
The main reasons I have left the Republican party are the consequences of such appeal to authority. Specifically, I am referring to rights to privacy and civil issues. The Republican party loves to preach that they are chiefly for states rights and all about smaller government, but insists that the government dictates the most private and intimate parts of anyone's lives. You cannot make a law that states that two men or two women cannot get married simply because you do not believe it is right. The position and authority of a lawmaker are not to ensure that your personal religious agenda is carried out, but instead to ensure that the laws are equally applied to all and followed. Who you are in a civil union with is not the government's business to control and the fact that the Republican party advocates this is a blatant hypocrisy of one of their biggest platforms.
So why did I not join the Democratic party? Mainly because both parties are two sides to the same coin. I cannot think of a single economic policy that the left advocates that I agree with, and I have issues with many of their social policies as well (namely gun control). The Democratic party is one that preaches tolerance, but is only tolerant to those that blindly follow them. So I found myself having to pick between the lesser of two evils until I realized that there are more than two parties in this nation. They may not win or have as much power over the rest of the nation, but they represent who I am and what I believe far better than the primary two options. I used to adore the Republican party for what it fought for, but now it has lost its way in personal ambition and doesn't really know what it wants. Small government or big government? Freedom of choice, or a lack thereof? Only time will tell if this party can fix itself before it completely crashes to the ground, so, for now, I am going to leave the party because it is not who I am anymore.