I was raised in an area that is heavily conservative (and I live in a similar area now), and yes, I used to be a Republican. My conservative friends call me liberal, and my liberal friends call me conservative. I have never been a fan of Hillary, and I think Bernie is an idealist who has no idea how the real world works and how to get things done (or what's possible to get done). I believe that Trump is dangerous.
I am asked by friends on the left why I can't see how unfairly Hillary has been treated over the years. I am asked by friends on the right why I can't see how corrupt and dishonest she is. I see both. I see all of the double standards she has been forced to endure. I see the conspiracy theories she has had to fend off. I also see her obfuscations and deceptions and half-truths and exaggerations. I see that she has worked harder than nearly any man in politics, and she has accomplished a great deal of things that she gets little credit for. I see how she has crushed people beneath her feet on the way up, and I wonder if she truly believes it's for the greater good.
When I see Trump, I see all of the reasons I left the Republican Party and will never go back. I see racism and egoism and jingoism. I see the last ditch efforts of the Baby Boomer generation grasping at any chance to hold onto the old ways of life, fighting against progress and change. I see the anger seething from my homeland in the beautiful South, always feeling like the red-headed stepchild of America. I see complex problems reduced to bumper sticker slogans and confined by strict ideological boundaries. I see the false prophets who use religion to mislead and control and who drive intellectuals from our churches. I see the people who believe in Old Testament justice but do not believe in following the gentle guidance of Jesus. I see a man who, in his narcissism, cannot connect or empathize with the American people and upon his rejection, incites fury, suspicion, and violence.
I am old enough to remember intellectual Republicans who believed in the greater good more than themselves, Republicans who were willing to stand alone, to die on a hill to preserve their moral compass. I am old enough to remember Democrats who were not denigrated and belittled for tempering their ideals with reality. I am also old enough to remember a time when the private words of politicians were truly private before camera phones proliferated across America. In fact, I am even older than pocket tape recorders. This, of course, makes me wonder how much of what I remember was real, how much was showmanship. At the very least, I remember when intellectual Republicans at least pretended to stand for something.
Today, we have a man running for president who is unquestioningly amoral. His elevation in American public life makes him a role model for our children, which makes me worry for my children's generation. He says he has never asked for forgiveness, not even from God. I am not religious, but I believe that the wise teachings of Jesus can guide us all, and forgiveness is an essential ingredient to the harmony of human existence. Trump seems to believe that he respects women, but he only respects women who stay in their place. He does not respect anyone who challenges him; nor does he respect any person who loses to him. This leaves him respecting no one. He does not respect the American people. He wants to rule us all, not represent or lead.
The Clintons have always been ultimately concerned with their public and historic legacy. They want a place in history, and they want to be on the right side of it. Whatever they've done to get here, at least they won't burn our great country down. Hillary will work to secure her place in history. She will work to make America great again, if only to make herself a great lady in the history books. We can survive her presidency and will likely come out better for it, overall.
I see Republican leaders who understand all of this. Yet, most seem stunned by the turn of events they created through years of dumbing down American politics. They appear rooted in place, unable to support Trump, unable to take a meaningful stand against him. Where are their morals now? Either they believe he is unfit to lead the free world, or they don't. I can hear the words of my grandfather, long gone from this world, yelling at the television, "Yellow-belly cowards!" The grand old party is dying because they no longer stand for anything. The moral high ground has crumbled under their stamping feet.