- - Friday, July 22, 2016

On a beautiful October day in 1972, I went out with some others to put out yard signs for Richard Nixon. I was 13 years old at the time and that launched my life-long obsession with politics. By 1980, I was listening to Ronald Reagan as he told America “I did not leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me.”

After Cleveland, the Republican Party has left me.

In 2012, the Democrat Party was roundly denounced for booing God at their convention. In 2016, the Republicans booed the U.S. Constitution, freedom and liberty.

On Wednesday night at the Convention in Cleveland, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz spoke. He told the delegates to vote their conscience. He told them to vote up and down the ticket for candidates who supported the Constitution.

For that, he was booed.

A major political figure proclaims the virtues of freedom and liberty and the Republican Party boos him. One of the fundamental aspects of liberty is the right to make up one’s own mind. Liberty means you have the right to consider all of the facts and decide which candidate, if any, you are going to support. And if a candidate offends your conscience, then you don’t have to support that candidate. This is liberty.

The Republican Party used to stand for freedom and liberty. After Cleveland, that can no longer be said.

In his acceptance speech, Donald Trump, now the Republican nominee, did not speak of freedom, liberty or the Constitution. He said, “I alone can fix it,” meaning America. He said, “I’m gonna make America rich again.” “I will restore law and order.” Other candidates understood their role. They are a representative of the people, therefore they always phrased their campaign comments in terms of, “Our campaign” and “We will do…” Donald Trump does not refer to the campaign in the third person plural because the campaign is not about the third person plural. There is no we in Donald Trump. It is all about him.

Trump does not need or want the Constitution, Congress, the courts or any other trappings of a republic. He will do it all himself. And he announced this to the rousing cheers of Republicans.

For Donald Trump, there is no right to conscience. There is no right to disagree. Instead of trying to unify everyone behind his campaign, Trump simply wants to attack and destroy anyone who will not kiss his ring. On Friday morning, at an event that was billed as a thank you for campaign staff, instead of attacking Hillary Clinton, again he went after Ted Cruz. He implied he would go after Sen. Cruz when he seeks re-election in 2018.

The message from the Trump Republican Party is clear: Conservatives are neither welcomed nor wanted. Donald Trump is the GOP’s Frank Underwood (of “House of Cards”), demanding our “absolute, unquestioning loyalty.”

There are still many good Republicans in office. In the Senate, there are people like Mr. Cruz, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse and Rand Paul. In the House, there are people like Kevin Brady from Texas, Peter Roskam from Illinois, Dave Brat from Virginia and the members of the House Freedom Caucus.

This week, I watched the Republican Party, at least at the national level, leave me. There are some good and even great candidates at the state and local level. These conservative Republican candidates do deserve our support.

But for now, like many others, I am a Republican without a party.

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