Op-Ed: The Struggle of a #NeverTrump Republican
Former Cruz organizer explains why he can't support Trump
Not more than a few minutes after I turned 18 years old, my forms to become a registered voter of the Republican Party were in my mailbox ready to go off to the Union County Clerk’s office. I was no longer just a campaign volunteer or an intern in a local Republican’s office. I was a bona fide voter.
Countless hours of my life had been dedicated to working on local campaigns, knocking on doors and learning everything I could about the conservative movement. I was ready to be a voter, an activist and a voice of change in bringing Republicans to elected office around the country. However, as the confetti settles after the 2016 Republican National Convention, I can in no way, shape or form support Donald J. Trump for President of the United States.
I am proud of the work I did along the campaign trail as the DC State Director of Millennials for Ted Cruz. I am proud of the way we ran that campaign and the message we spread. But I was never more proud of having worked for Senator Cruz than when he stood in front of an arena of Trump supporters, stared into the camera, and refused to endorse Mr. Trump. In doing so, he let countless conservatives know that this was still their party, too.
Senator Cruz let us know that there is still room in the Republican Party for those who believe in limited, hands-off government. He let those who believe a strong, and active, America is a friend of peace in this world that their fears are not lost. And he spoke to those who believe that an America that trades with the world maintains that peace. Those who hold their religious beliefs near and dear to their heart were assured that they still had a champion in this party, even if it wasn’t their nominee. And, most of all, he stood with the Constitution.
Trump does not represent any of these principles. He is a man who believes “he alone, can fix America.” As a member of the Republican Party, I have fought politicians who believe they are a unilateral force to impose their will on the people. This fight does not stop merely because my party has given him their rubber stamp of approval. Trump believes that the mainstream media is disloyal and is composed of dishonest people. I fear for an America that lives under a leader who believes the media owes him or her any sort of loyalty. If Americans want that, they are welcome to relocate to North Korea, Syria or Cuba. Any step towards authoritarianism is a step in the wrong direction. Frequently, I’ve cried out against attacks on the First Amendment from anyone. In fact, there are times I’ve drawn ire from many for my views on the virtues of supposed hate speech in the past. The Republican nominee is no exception.
Despite his calls to “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s policy of letting our NATO allies fend for themselves is dangerous, and immediately drew the ire of the President of Estonia, one of our closest, and most important allies. Stepping away from our allies will not ensure peace. We live in a geopolitical landscape that revolves around a world superpower. If, in Trump’s America, the United States declines to continue playing that role, it will be happily filled by Russia or China.
Trump’s praise for dictators like Saddam Hussein, and Bashar Assad run counter to everything Republicans and Americans believe in. It is important to understand that each country is different, and a stronger hand may be needed to maintain order in certain areas of the world. However, Hussein and Assad are blatant examples of genocidal madmen in our time. There was a time when we fought evil in this world. Trump has no interest in maintaining that tradition.
As a person of faith, I find Trump’s disdain for religion particularly disturbing. Despite the many issues I see in the Muslim community today, Trump pushes beyond feasible solutions and advocates for screenings and bans that conflict with the very nature of our democracy and our constitution. Many brave Muslims serve in our armed forces and assist us in our peace efforts. Trump has no time for reasonable solutions in this matter. Only tension.
He has also talked down to Christians by waving a Bible around while misquoting verses and glances over his own history of serial adultery. Additionally, he has derided religious social conservatives for focusing on issues he sees as “distractions”. Americans’ deeply held sacred beliefs are not distraction and we cannot accept a President who treats them as such.
I believe that America is the greatest country in the world and that it has been the strongest force for good around the world for years. If his convention speech is any indication, Donald Trump seems to believe it is a festering hell hole. While I recognize the immense issues permeating our economy, and our culture, there is nowhere I would rather be living on this earth. This belief in the enduring importance of the idea of the United States of America produces an intense awareness of how big the responsibilities of the office of the President are. Many of my Republican friends tell me that it is too important to give away this task to Democrats for another four years. I hear them and I understand their worries. As a lifelong Republican, I am wary of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would look like. However, if we guide our party based on this principle, we will no longer have any values, and will be merely contrarians whose only sales pitch is that we are not Democrats. Then we truly will have become “the party of No.”
It took me all of about one minute to fill out my voter registration. It took me two seconds to write “Republican” in the party affiliation box. Knowing how incredibly important the office of the President is to this country and the world, I have to believe that there are more qualifications to holding that office than merely the fact that you didn’t write down “Democrat” in that same box. It is not that simple. The office of President is far more important than that.
I am willing to wait another four years to bring a principled conservative, like Senator Ted Cruz, or scores of other Republican leaders, to the Oval Office. I will not settle for this nominee merely because he is not a Democrat and I urge many of my fellow Republicans to join me. If Donald Trump wins the presidency, he will become the face of this party for years and will erode everything we have ever fought for. And this country will be left without a defense of our core values, and conservatism will be left to wither and die as an antiquated afterthought.
November is a little over three months away. I currently plan on casting my vote for Evan McMullin, an independent candidate who is a former CIA agent, and ex-GOP policy strategist. He articulates the conservative vision for America that Republicans fight for. I could, in these next months, choose instead to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, as a more direct rebuff to Trump, or even for Libertarian, Gary Johnson, who has shown national viability. However, given that my loyalty to my country is infinitely stronger than that to my Party, I will never vote for Donald Trump.
Daniel Savickas is a junior in the School of Public Affairs.