As each day seems to bring a new low in American politics, I am constantly asked the question, "Susan, what are you going to do?"
Why me? I suppose because I co-chair the largest pro-choice advocacy organization that is Republican, the Republican Majority for Choice. My friends want to know how I reconcile my limited government, pragmatic approach to governing with the Presidential contender who is a hazard to women and an inflexible Party platform that is out of step with the American people.
I have been around Republican politics most of my life: My parents were precinct committee chairs in a small west coast town. My father was involved in the town government; and at 93, is still a respected voice regarding issues in town. As the co-chair of the RMC, I have supported and worked with countless Republican candidates and members of Congress. Republicans who believe the best government is that which governs least; who believe in a government that is there for its people in times of need, yet trusts of its people to make their own personal decisions.
I have watched with increasing frustration the degradation of our political system. Our government has become polarized and paralyzed leading us to two of the most disappointing Presidential candidates in both my memory as well as the memory of my 93-year-old, life-long Republican father.
But the time has come for me to answer the question, "Susan, what are you going to do?" What do we say to those who mourn the lack of a principled candidate? To those who complain that we have no good option?
Like so many Republicans, I can no longer stand silent while my Party's Presidential nominee continues his deplorable, and frankly dangerous, outbursts. There can be no more question: Mr. Trump does not embody the values that have made me a lifelong Republican. A Trump Presidency will mean a loss of civility, tolerance and equanimity and will be an assault on the dignity and rights of women and families across our nation.
For the first time in my life, I plan to vote for a Democrat for President. Hillary is a flawed candidate. Her Party lacks many of the policies and ideological platforms that I, as a traditional Republican, hold dear. These deficiencies are of great concern to me, but of greater concern is the election of someone who puts my rights and my safety at risk -- and Donald Trump will absolutely do that. Though I disagree on many issues with Secretary Clinton, I believe she will be respectful and has shown a willingness to work across Party lines to find solutions.
Our system is broken, focus, compromise and inclusion have never been more important. This is why RMC will continue to work with and support mainstream Republicans in state legislatures across the nation and in Congress. These leaders are now more important than ever, as they will ensure that the extremism of Donald Trump and the big government leanings of Hillary Clinton will not go unchallenged and unchecked. We must find balance and protect GOP leaders who hold strong to the principle of limited government and will work to find common ground.
I know that by tomorrow, I will have angry calls from Republicans who forget that I, along with RMC members across the nation, have worked to further the candidacies and agendas of countless GOP members, an effort critical to the GOP's success in Congress. Despite this work, we will endure endless comments blaming us for "rocking the boat" or being "single issue" voters.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Opportunity and respect have historically been the hallmarks of the GOP and are the ideals that RMC, and I, champion. Respect for women, equal rights and reproductive health are anything but "single issue."
There is no greater issue affecting the social and economic health of women and families than the decision of when to begin a family. Our nation spends billions in taxpayer dollars on teen and unintended pregnancy each year. Our entitlement programs are stretched to the breaking point yet we continue to ignore the simple solutions of prevention and planning that will ease these burdens. And, it's not just about the money, preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy has been proven to reduce poverty, increase educational achievement and workforce competitiveness, and improve health and social outcomes for children, women and families. Moreover, unplanned pregnancy is the cause of the vast majority of the nation's abortions; thus, reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy reduces abortion. Hardly "single issue."
We can all yell, show our outrage and demand better from our Party -- and we should -- but we need to do more. As a life-long Republican, I believe that when my Party is so off track, it is not my role to follow blindly but to call out what is wrong, support those who stand on principle and push hard to get us back onto the right path. I have not abandoned my Party; the chosen GOP candidate has abandoned the principles that I, and so many Republicans, hold dear.
Donald Trump's brand of politics will not, as his slogan claims, make this country great again. However, if the GOP can accept this wake-up call and get back to its roots as the party of limited government, opportunity, inclusion and respect, then maybe we can make our Party great again.