When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for President in June of 2015, I like most people laughed it off. Given the sideshow antics that invariably accompany The Donald wherever he goes, I didn't take his candidacy seriously. So when he secured the nomination in July the next year, I was shocked and appalled.
That's why, even though I'm a committed Republican, I decided to lend my voice to a local ad campaign supporting Hillary Clinton. I wasn't paid to participate. This was a matter of conscience and principle.
In a field of 16 Republican Presidential candidates, the GOP electorate selected the worst possible scenario: a loud mouthed, uninformed and generally unpalatable "businessman." But it gets worse.
Donald Trump is not a conservative. His rhetoric and policies (what little he actually deigns to share) are populist and alarmingly nationalist. He has come out in favor of protectionism through increasing tariffs across all economic sectors, forcing companies (unconstitutionally) to manufacture goods in the United States, all in an effort to "Make America Great Again."
These are not ideas and solutions that conservatives would or should support. Protectionism, populism, or Trump-ism defies human experience. The American experience.
Over the last ten years or so, I have really studied the history of not only America, but also of Russia and Europe. To me, liberty isn't a catchphrase - it's a way of life. To live and let live, and allow others to do whatever they want so long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else. Economics is a natural extension of that. When you want to meddle with the free market by raising tariffs, penalizing companies based on where they make things, it's not liberty to me. It's tyranny.
Tariffs failed to stop the advent of the depression when Herbert Hoover (also a "businessman outsider") signed the Tariff Act of 1930. The tariffs devastated American agriculture and ignited a horrible trade war. It also accelerated the Great Depression.
Conservatism is about liberty, individual responsibility and free market capitalism. Not "America First" or "Make America Great Again" or any other slogan that Trump can whip up.
It is about the ability of the American entrepreneur to go out, invent, and invest and become successful without interference from an ever-present federal government. Or not.
That's the beauty of our ideology. It's supposed to empower anyone and everyone who wants to work hard, play by the rules, and be a responsible citizen to succeed or fail based on their own merit. Trump wants to rig the system to create an artificial atmosphere where jobs will somehow be forced back to the country through unconstitutional tyranny. China, Mexico, and other countries are going to be "punished" for cheating on trade, and the taxes on their goods will drastically rise (fancy a $1,000 iPhone?).
This is not liberty or capitalism. It's nationalism, and it's dangerous. Not only for the economy and the country, but also for conservatism and its future.
I saw conservatives' one true hope in stopping Donald Trump as Ted Cruz, and I was disappointed to see the approach many in the media and other once-stalwart conservative pundits took toward the only candidate I saw as a true conservative this cycle. The conservative cause was betrayed from within. All for a combination of ratings, money, influence, and "star power."
The 2016 election has seen a groundswell in anger against the establishment in the Democratic and Republican parties alike, which is why I was shocked when I realized we were going to nominate an individual who has been a political donor for more than 40 years - to both sides! - over a principled conservative, and one whom the establishment loathed.
We as conservatives have two options: we can surrender and vote for the GOP nominee, buying into the hype against the Democratic candidate with transparency and honesty issues (but does Donald really not have those same issues?), or we can fight back. We can refuse to support Trump and his failed economic policies, his penchant for petty insults, conspiracy theories, and alt-right political advisors.
Ultimately, it's up to every conservative to come to grips with what he or she should do. You don't have to support Hillary Clinton. But at the same time, you are NOT obligated to vote for a candidate you shouldn't support on principle. If you cannot support Hillary Clinton, then you shouldn't be able to support Donald Trump on the same line of reasoning. Vote third party, or do a write-in. Everyone has to make a choice regardless.
As for me, I have made the choice to support Hillary Clinton. I am actively working to stop the GOP from destroying itself through a combination of nationalist policies, failed economics, and rhetoric. A large increase in spending from a supposed Republican, tariffs from a supposed supporter of capitalism, unconstitutional mandates from a supposed conservative? These are all against the principles of liberty, capitalism and individual responsibility. Things the Republican Party once stood for, and must stand for again.
We have to save the GOP from itself, for its own survival. #NeverTrump means Never Trump.
About Local Voices
Founded in 2008 by Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch (BULLY), Local Voices is a Democratic Super PAC that creates cinematic campaign ads in "battleground counties of battleground states." Using the authentic voices of rural voters and then airing those ads in that very same area, the Local Voices model has been tested and demonstrated to be uniquely persuasive. Over the last two election cycles, Local Voices has produced and aired more than 40 campaign ads, winning working class votes for the Democratic ticket. Local Voices' ad campaigns have garnered industry recognition, including Reed Awards for "Best Presidential Television Ad" (2008, 2012) and Pollie Awards for "Best Overall Campaign Series" (2008) and "Best Overall Television Campaign" (2012). See all ads on Facebook or YouTube. Join the discussion on Twitter.
All ads are paid for by Local Voices and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.