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Why I am no longer a Republican

This post has been a long time coming, and a long time in writing. I started it August 24, 2012 after reading a Daily Kos blog post entitled “I abandoned the Republican Party!“. While I most certainly am not switching back to the Democratic Party, as the author of that post clearly is, I feel that he or she and I have similar reasons for no longer wanting to associate ourselves with a political organization so corrupt that it would change its own rules at the last minute in order to keep a person from being nominated for its candidate for president.

I used to be a Democrat. I really liked Barack Obama and was among the first wave of people to sign up for this web site before the primaries. His policies were better than those of the Republican party’s candidates. I was largely apathetic about politics, but Obama was something new and different. I saw that “change” as sufficient to receive my support.

Until I read about a certain, relatively unknown Republican candidate who’d run for president in the ’80s as a Libertarian.

I became a Republican in order to vote in the 2008 primaries for Ron Paul, a politician unlike any other I’d ever encountered. Dr. Paul, an OB/GYN from Texas (originally from Pittsburgh!), opened my eyes and changed my entire political philosophy. His adherence to the non-aggression principle and rejection of classification of people made sense and continue to be principles that guide not only my political philosophy, but my every day activities. I’ve read most of his books and find the key points of self-reliance, freedom of economy, volunteerism, and limited government to be sensible policies that can improve our country and the world. I don’t agree with Dr. Paul on all points — he and I disagree fundamentally on education, women’s reproductive rights, and a few other points. Maybe one day I’ll go through his political philosophies one-by-one and write down my dissenting opinions.

I’ve spent an enormous amount of time increasing my knowledge of his political points while trying to understand the other opinions on the issues. This research, along with actions by the Republican National Committee and its franchisees, leads me to believe that I can no longer represent myself as a member of its ranks. I can no longer proudly say, “I am a Republican.” I can no longer sheepishly say, “I am a Republican.” I refuse to suffer it any longer, and chose to sever ties so that I can grow as an educated political thinker.

Herein are my “95 theses”, per-say. I offer these without linked proof because I feel they are evident to the up-on-things reader. I’ll do my best to offer evidence where challenged in the comments, but much of this is subjective observation and may not be documented beyond my own memories and experiences. If I’m wrong, call me out and let’s have a discussion — that’s something that Republicans seem to avoid these days.

  1. The leadership of the party changes the rules on the fly in order to silence a vocal and growing minority within the party, and the affected members are powerless to stop the rule changes in a timely manner. The former is the corruption, the latter is a problem inherent in the party system.
  2. The RNC essentially chose its champion before the votes had been tallied, despite the existence of a credible challenger to that champion with significant support.
  3. The local parties, in many areas, are full of squabbling and disagreement that follows along the candidate lines: those who supported Romney and McCain represent the incumbent forces who are the problem in the party, while those who support Paul squabble over who is more libertarian-than-thou and cannot focus enough to grow and overcome the threat of the incumbency.
  4. The legislators of the party have continually supported with their vote legislation that prolongs military presence and action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other sovereign nations where our presence is similar to an occupation. We cannot continue to police the world, or use our military as a police force in countries without a functional government.
  5. Building on the prior point, the party consistently supports an increase in military spending, despite it already consuming more than 30% of the US budget each year. We cannot afford to increase our defense spending when we have no traditional threat against which to defend.
  6. The members and leaders of the party choose religious doctrine as their guiding principles, regardless of if that doctrine tramples the rights of others.
  7. The members and leaders of the party ask “What are you?” before they welcome members and ask  ”How can you help?” If they don’t like the labels you’ve given to yourself through the groups you entertain, activities you conduct, or philosophies you espouse, you are unwelcome: this party breeds and breathes homogeneity.
  8. The leaders of the party who find themselves in the news are most often cast as bumbling idiots, even in the traditionally Republican media outlets.
  9. The party has become so deeply involved in traditional media that its bias is unavoidable, even to the point of outright lies being presented as facts.
  10. The leaders of the party have tricked the membership into supporting initiatives that serve to make the former richer and the latter poorer by playing on the fears of the latter or fabricating altogether new things for the latter to fear.
  11. The leadership treats the Constitution as guidelines at best, if not ignoring it altogether, except when convenient. This convenience manifests when the Democrats try to affect rights in a way that is actually in line with their political beliefs, and neither party is willing to submit an amendment.
  12. The party stands to see an amendment passed that would institutionalize a religious practice that already has government-recognized equivalents that work just as well, but lack the traditional components – that one be physically male and the other be physically female – that are irrelevant to the interpersonal agreement.
  13. The party desires to reduce the level of charity taxpayers are forced to provide, yet it does not espouse no-strings-attached voluntary charity. If a person does not supply the right answer to “What are you?”, that person does not matter to the party. We must enjoin a culture of voluntary altruism before the safety nets supported by government force can be reduced; another way to make a government program go away is make it irrelevant and unused.
  14. The party legislators would rather enact miles of red tape and conditions, or establish rules that will be changed or broken when convenient, rather than engage others in a discussion about a topic. Avoidance only lasts as long as the patience of those who are avoided. They even stoop to the level of detaining or incarcerating dissenters in order to keep the dissent from being heard.
  15. The party legislators fail to ask themselves, “Will this law make us freer?” when considering legislation. They act only to serve themselves and the people they care about: the people who give them the most money.
  16. Campaigns result to attacking candidates and misleading voters, and even taking out of context one opposing candidate’s comments in video games.
  17. GOP state legislators, empowered with enacting laws describing how elections will be held, result to dirty tricks and poor implementations in order to purposefully disenfranchise voters. As a Pennsylvanian, I’m absolutely ashamed of PA Rep. Mike Turzai’s bragging that VoterID will help Romney win PA. Fortunately, a state judge issued an injunction in time for the 2012 presidential election, but not without being lambasted by the party for being an “activist judge”.
  18. The state parties actively sabotaged the campaigns of other parties’ candidates through illegal Watergate-style tactics. The party should have condemned this, but instead stays silent. Silence in this in acceptance, and acceptance of criminal acts is insufferable. It also actively unreasonably prevented a third party candidate from being on the ballot because his paperwork was submitted three minutes late. Rules are rules, but when tens of thousands of people have signed that paperwork saying that they would vote for the candidate and their wish to have their choice is denied by the incumbents, whose candidate needed only to collect a small percentage of signatures comparatively because of an artificially implied sentiment that, because the party’s candidate garnered some arbitrary percentage of the vote in a previous election, their candidacy is desired and immediately validated, a miscarriage of justice has occurred and those with the power to right the wrong have no incentive to do so.
  19. The party tolerates local officials who throw valid, unprocessed voter registration paperwork into the trash in another state.
  20. The party leaders, politicians, and others engage in a remarkable amount of voter misdirection, suppression, intimidation, and more. It threatens the very way our country decides its direction. It’s so widespread and difficult to record that it’s nearly impossible to prosecute effectively. When someone does get called out on it, they get away with a simple “I’m sorry; I stand corrected” or “A staffer was wrong and has been fired”. These excuses just don’t cut it.
  21. The party fails to abstract its points of contention among members into a central platform upon which a larger number of people agree. 66% is not a consensus: it’s one-third of a party ready to split off into its own party. That one-third just needs the sudden gumption to do so.

The reported treatment of Ron Paul and his supporters at the August 28 RNC convention was what sealed the fate of the RNC in my mind and heart. If an organization dismisses and actively fetters such a sizable contingent of its membership, that organization is no longer lead by its membership. It is lead by a powerful incumbency that acts autonomously with reckless disregard of the membership’s will. The organization is not deserving of these sabotaged members and deserves to lose their minds, their time, and, most important of all to its leadership, their money.

After all, Ron Paul won. Whether or not Romney himself was involved in the unethical behavior that installed him as the nominee is irrelevant. Proving such would only harm him; providing that he was not involved would not affect his reputation in the eyes of those who oppose him. At issue is the simple fact that the RNC leadership actively permitted the rules changes at the convention that prevented Ron Paul from even being nominated for the presidential nomination. Unfortunately, there is no feasible appeal process for an RNC nomination, as those would hear the appeal are among the dishonest and unethical leadership of the party.

I believe it is worth describing the state of this schism within the Republican party as a blood cell nearing division. The party was one unit, one strong cohesive unit. As it has gained mass, it’s feeling constrained. To the external observer, it appears as though there are nearly two individual cells. That cell still believes itself to be one, singular cell and tries to act that way. However, its operation is untenable. In short time, in order to preserve itself, it must divide. The division is inevitable once it started. It’s only a matter of time until the molecules destined for the new cell are ready to depart. I’m ready to depart.

I did not shred that card with a heavy heart. I do not regret shredding a piece of plastic that stands for everything I see wrong with the party. I shredded that card with the intention of finishing the revolution of my heart.

Thus, I have departed. My change of party registration is in the mail. I’m supporting the Libertarian Party, and voting for Gary Johnson. Won’t you join me?

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