Reflections on the 2016 Republican National Convention

The 2016 Republican Convention, up to this point for me as an outside spectator, has been an unmitigated disaster. The Republican Party instituted a platform that continues to be intolerant and insensitive towards the LGBTQ+ community. The Republican Party still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that we need to respect and honor the members of the LGBTQ+ community, and to allow their members to have the freedom to pursue their own happiness by recognizing their rights to get married, and to allow them to be treated no differently than any other American. The Republican Party still chooses to pass moral judgment over this community, and essentially condemning them for being who they are. And the party continues to ostracize and make life difficult for the transgendered in their party platform, including arguing against making discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification illegal. Discrimination against groups of people is wrong and our laws should reflect. But by taking these controversial stands, we are losing out on the opportunity to tear down barriers for members of this particular community and those that support the gay community from being able to believe in and vote for members of the Republican Party who are on the ballots. By outright dismissing the LGBTQ+ community and their needs through the Republican Party’s “defense” of marriage as being between “one man and one woman,” we continue to drive massive numbers of voters away. We want more people to be able to believe in the Republican Party’s message of limited and sustainable government, of lower taxes that do not burden the individual tax payer, a strong national defense and holding government and those that work it accountable for their actions. But we’re not going to attract any new voters to this message by continuing to alienate people by fighting the wrong fights, and sending the wrong message to voters that the Republican Party is bigoted toward the gay community, and implying that their votes or input are not welcomed within our party. Society changes with the times; America needs to be able to adapt to the needs of everyone by willing to change its views on traditions such as marriage. We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, and change how we approach and interact with the LGBTQ+ community and their issues. They are Americans too; they need to know that the Republican Party understands their issues and can govern over them fairly and justly, and see to it their needs are met. Right now, the Republican Party has not shown this community that they can be trusted with high office, as they would be afraid that we would insist on imposing our own moral views on their community, which we do not have a right to do.      

The Republican Party platform also continues to be heavy-handed with abortion. The way we approach this issue continues to drive away single-issue voters. The Republican Party needs to simply state that although it fundamentally disagrees with the use of abortion, that it respects the individual woman and will honor their choice in this matter. It should stop trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, and trying to actively take the right to choose away from women. The Republican Party needs to focus its energy and resources on adoption, and making it easier to adopt so that adoption can become a better and more preferred choice than abortion for women. We need to emphasize that we need to encourage all women to consider bringing new life into this world; and once it is brought into this world, that child will be cared for and protected. I am pro-life, and I want to see more women choose adoption, but this is not a choice we can force upon women. This is a choice they must make for themselves. As a religious conservative, I am a strong believer in the free will that was granted to us by our creator. By recognizing and honoring this choice that women have, and not working to take it away, we can slowly take down this barrier for women who will not consider the Republican Party based on the abortion issue alone. Just like the gay community, we want a broader number of people from mainstream America being able to consider our party, and to be able to say, “I can get behind that party and its beliefs.” Right now, many women cannot do that. And this is why, between how we treat the gay community, women and minorities, the Republican Party is hurting for votes, and is simply unable to win the presidency without outside help from independents.

For the 2016 Republican Convention, things were not helped by Ted Cruz and his choice not to support Donald Trump. I understand why he couldn’t support Trump, as I do not either, but the way he expressed his displeasure was self-serving and, in my humble opinion, “slimy.” He could have chosen to not speak at the convention, as other Republicans chose to do. He could have used the opportunity to show more grace, and focused on how the Republican Party can appeal to more voters. But he chose to use the opportunity to speak as a means to stab Trump in the back; and for encouraging voters to simply “vote their conscience.” To me, this only reinforced Donald Trump’s ‘Lying Ted’ characterization, and showed that Cruz is only out for Cruz in his political ambition. And worse, it only emphasized Republican disharmony on the national level. If we want the Republican Party to fracture into many smaller parties, than we should follow Cruz’s example, and continue this in-fighting. If we want unity within the party, we have to do a better job of putting forth what our core values are: limited government that is not intrusive in people’s lives, and is sustainable. No new entitlements such as free college tuition for everyone. No fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage that would crush companies and would drive them to bankruptcy. Responsible government that respects individual rights and respects the areas where individuals must take responsibility for their own lives. Tax policy that understands that over-taxation is a problem that can deny people the ability to achieve their desired quality of life and their own version of the American Dream. Tax policy that does not punish achievement or success. And a strong national defense. These are the things that must be at the fore front of the Republican Party platform, not opposition to gay marriage or its heavy-handed approach to abortion.

There were other issues that distracted from the Republican Convention, including the alleged plagiarism within Melania Trump’s speech. To me, if you’re borrowing material for your speech, why are you borrowing it from the current first lady, from the opposing party? The plagiarism issue is real and needs to be called out, but the fact that they borrowed talking points from someone on the Democratic side of the aisle was very troubling for me. To me, it only reinforces to me the fact that Trump and his wife identify more with the Democrats than they do with the Republican Party, and that they truly are Democrats in Republicans’ clothing.

And then there is the scandal with Scott Baio, and what he chose to tweet the day after he spoke at the convention, seemingly referring to Secretary Clinton with a derogatory term for women. The tweet was referencing a picture with Hillary standing in front of a banner, with one letter blocked out, that changed the meaning of the banner altogether. I am very much appalled by this tweet by Scott Baio. The Republican Party has enough problems with its image that it does not need this juvenile humor, or even appearing that it condones this message of referring to women with this term. The Republican Party should have distanced itself from Scott Baio and this tweet. This is yet another facepalm moment for me from this convention.

 And then, while all this was happening, we had Representative Steve King make an ass of himself while being interviewed by MSNBC, saying about white people and minorities, “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”  Representative King was basically bragging that white people made the most contributions to civilization. This is utterly disgusting, and degrading to minorities and the contributions they have made to western civilization. And this is once again another example of how the Republican Party comes off as appearing to be racist. We need more diversity in the party, it is a problem we need to address and work on, but we are not going to get solutions with insensitive and asinine comments like these.

There is so much reform that needs to take place in the Republican Party. The Republican Party needs to do some soul searching, and needs to confront head on the problems that it is causing for itself. I sometimes wonder if anyone is going to wake up inside the Republican National Committee and start pushing for such reform to take place, to make sure the Republican Party does not end up becoming extinct like the dinosaurs as demographics inside our nation continue to change, or more people begin to reject the Republican Party for the self-inflicted wounds that it causes to itself.        

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