Very little polarizes people, including friends and family, like politics. There hasn’t been a more controversial, confusing election cycle like this in 50 years. My point in this post isn’t to tell you who you should or shouldn’t vote for. I’m not going to tell you who I’m going to vote for…since I don’t even know yet. I’m just going to lay it out what will drive my decision, if it even matters to anyone other than myself.
You’re going to see that s a registered Republican, that is not the deciding factor because it doesn’t define my standards. It seems to be expected of me that I should support the candidate who bears an R next to their name. I have had people suggest to me that if I don’t vote for Trump, I am casting a vote for Hillary.
Huh? Is there a new system I don’t know about? What happens if I don’t vote for Hillary? Is that a vote for Trump? I’m really confused. In case you didn’t realize, there is no such thing as a national election. There are fifty individual statewide elections. I live in Rhode Island, and my vote only counts here. If Trump wants my vote, he’s going to have to earn it with more than party affiliation.
Here’s the thing. My vote belongs to me. My vote is currency. It is bestowed up on me to offer to a single candidate I ultimately endorse and wish to hold the office for which they pursue. With that as the mindset, I offer a list of five qualities that define me and will determine my choice. In descending order of influence, they are:
- I am a Christian. This is the fundamental influence in every detail of my life. While I understand I am not voting for a pastor or spiritual leader, they must demonstrate to me consistent character and integrity. Even if they are not, themselves, Christian, they will defend and respect my faith and not minimize it, silence my voice or demonize my beliefs and values. They will respect the office and remember they serve the people.
- I am soon to be a husband and stepfather. I will vote for a person whose values and agenda is, in my estimation, in the best interests of my family, both now and moving forward into the future.
- I am an American. What is in the best interests of my country outweigh those of other countries. I do not want conflict, but if it is necessary in order to preserve our freedom and lives, so be it. I believe in American exceptionalism. We are not perfect, but we are the greatest country in the history of the planet. It is not our role to make everyone like us or to emulate us. But we must set and live by a high standard, and hold ourselves to it.
- I am a Constitutionalist. I believe this document empowers the people and limits the government, not the other way around. Rather than seek to throw out things that don’t fit an agenda, they see the wisdom and time-tested value of this document and the men who sacrificed everything to draft and ratify it.
- I am a Conservative. As such, I support the individual over the collective. I believe in personal liberty and responsibility. Government needs to be reduced, not an obstacle to a citizen’s inalienable rights. While the government cannot and should not compel Americans to practice a particular religion, We must remember that this country was founded on, and is inextricably linked to Christianity. Our Christian values demand that we love others, even those with whom we disagree. Even those who worship differently, or not at all. Our values do not discriminate against anyone for any reason.
Some have justified supporting Donald Trump as, “the lesser of two evils.” Do you know what the lesser of two evils is? Still evil. Before anyone takes this as me calling anyone evil, that is not my meaning, and that is not my job. The phrase is an idiom, and that is the context in which I mean it. The point is, my vote is not simply for the person who is less awful than the other. My vote will go for the person I believe is best suited for the job based, at least on the criteria I listed above, even if that individual has no chance to win. My vote is sacred to me, and I will not give it to someone who hasn’t earned it.
You’re welcome to disagree with my standard. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you do or don’t. I’m only sharing this with you because I have had my position and values questioned and mocked. That doesn’t bother me one bit. I’d much rather be mocked for upholding a high standard than cave in and throw my support to someone I wouldn’t even want to have dinner with. I’d rather be wrong and have the person for whom I didn’t vote prove to be a wonderful president than hold my nose, vote for them, and they turn out to be what I predicted, or worse.
If you find my reasoning flawed, that’s ok. But at least you now understand it. Donald Trump has not earned my vote. I have almost no faith that he will, but it’s not the first Tuesday in November yet. I just see no evidence that he will. Miracles can happen. But if one doesn’t, I cannot, in good conscience, cast my vote for the lesser of two evils.