RINO No More
I first registered to vote when I turned 18, back in the Reagan administration. I've been a registered (if not always enthusiastic) Republican my entire adult life. I haven't always agreed with the policies and positions of the Party, but I always felt that the Republican Presidents (or Presidential nominees) and other Party leaders were basically good people who genuinely wanted what was best for the nation.
But I don't feel that way about the current Republican leadership. In the last few weeks, Republican leaders in Congress and elsewhere have demonstrated an astounding recklessness in their actions. Their first act in Congress was to try to abolish the independent ethics panel that oversees them. Who decided that was a good idea? They want to tear down the Affordable Care Act--which, almost without exception, they refer to derisively as ‘Obamacare’--and replace it, eventually, it with something else. But nobody seems to know what that is. Oh, sure, I’ve heard people talk about about ‘Health Savings Accounts’. I suppose they’re okay, if you’ve got so much money that you don’t need insurance anyway. At this point, even I am starting to think Canada’s single-payer system looks pretty good.
And as for President Trump? He’s even more disturbing. He has no background and no experiences to prepare him for this job--no legal, military, government, or public service experience whatsoever. Worse, his temperament and personality make him entirely unsuited to the position. He’s erratic, combative, and unprincipled. He gets in Twitter fights with people who criticize him. He can’t be told ‘No’, because as far as I can tell, he doesn’t consider himself answerable or accountable to anybody. His lack of concern for possible Russian interference in our country’s affairs is astonishing. Didn’t Republicans used to want to fight the Russians? And his choices for Cabinet? Incomprehensible. He says he wants to ‘drain the swamp’--but he keeps nominating tycoons and insiders. And not even tycoons and insiders that make sense. He wants a brain surgeon in charge of Housing and Urban Development, an enemy of public education in charge of the Education Department, and a Wall Street executive as Secretary of State. To be fair, I suppose it’s fitting that his nominees are as inexperienced and unqualified as he is.
So no, I don’t feel like the Republican Party is where I belong at this point in time.
But fear not, my friends. My decision to change my registration to Libertarian doesn't indicate a seismic personality shift on my part. I haven’t become a soulless Objectivist automaton or dope-smoking hippie. In reality, my political party membership is less important to me on a daily basis than, say, making sure I leave the house in the morning with socks that match--something I do worry about (and accomplish) pretty much every day. Labels don't mean that much to me, and political party affiliation isn't even in the top ten of how I self-identify.
Changing my voter registration to Libertarian means mostly that I've grown tired of the two-party chicanery our nation has endured for the last twenty years or so. Looking back, I don't feel that my political positions have changed that much. Perhaps the years have made me more moderate in those positions (and likely more cynical), but I have pretty much the same ideas about government that I've always had: that government exists solely to protect the rights, safety, and freedom of its citizens; that government must represent the interests of all its citizens, not just those belonging to the Party currently in power; and most importantly, that government operates by consent of the governed.
I don't think either major political party, Democratic or Republican, operates that way any more (if either or both ever did). Both Parties are more like mega-corporations now, completely amoral and bereft of any genuine concern for the common people in their power-driven chase for ever-increasing market share. We're no longer people that they represent; we're consumers, targets of their greedy and self-promulgating marketing schemes. “Blind men [and women] in the market,” as Rush says, “buying what we're sold.”
Well, I'm not buying any more. Not now, anyway.
I already know that I won't remain a registered Libertarian indefinitely. When the next round of caucuses and primary elections rolls around, I'll change my registration back to Republican in order to participate. Utah is so heavily Republican that the primaries are where most elections are really decided, and the G.O.P. holds closed primaries. So I'll hold my nose and switch back, because it's what I'll have to do to have a voice. And then, in all likelihood, I'll switch back to Libertarian again. Or maybe, two years from now, there will be another option. I doubt it, but maybe. No need to worry about that just now, I suppose.
But for now, I'm no longer a Republican. The G.O.P. won't miss me (and my one vote) or even notice that I'm gone. And that's okay. The Libertarians will likely be excited to have another name on their roster. If the helps the get more third-party involvement in future elections, then I’m glad to do it.
But mostly, I just can't be a Republican right now.