Goodbye, Jeb Bush — What's a moderate Republican to do?
“You’re a Republican!? Can I be your friend? I don’t have any Republican friends!”
As a millennial in New York City, I’ve become something of a novelty, so scarce that once encountered I must be collected into the many social circles lacking diversity in arguably the most liberal city in the United States.
As a New Jersey native and former resident of Philadelphia, I’m not unaccustomed to being the odd man out in terms of my political views. And before you bring up the fact that New Jersey has a Republican governor, (yes, we know), the state has been resoundingly blue in both presidential and senatorial elections for years. One Republican governor does not a Red State make.
But, I suppose we are something of a rare breed even though we do exist: millennial Republicans, but more specifically moderate Republicans.
I happen to believe in gay marriage, but I also happen to believe in an individual’s responsibility for his/her/zer actions, which makes me shudder at the likes of many liberal policies in the US.
Republicans are so frequently slammed as a racist, bigoted bunch by the mainstream media that the idea of a person who (I like to think) isn’t one becomes a bit of a novelty.
Then, the 2016 race started. With so many candidates, I assumed “the machine” would do its work and whittle them down to a respectable bunch from which a moderate could choose.
I’m unfortunately being proven very, very wrong.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign began, in my mind, as a joke. How could this man with this background in bankruptcy, reality TV, and a world-famous pageant in Atlantic City be taken seriously? (I’m not even going to bring up his toupee….)
But there he was in all his Trumpish glory. Yes, yes, we know you will say anything for a good sound-bite, up to and including racist and ludicrous comments such as building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, incessant comments about Latinos as rapists and criminals, and well — insert inflammatory comment here — the Donald has said it.
What started as a joke in my mind turned into a racist, inflammatory candidate. Then, it got worse.
He started leading in the polls.
How could this be? How could the least serious of all these candidates be the frontrunner? His numbers have unfortunately proven him to be at the front of the Republican pack, with disastrous results for his counterparts. One by one, candidates with more political experience and savvy have been dropping like flies. In case you’ve lost track, in 2016 alone the following candidates have dropped out or suspended their campaigns:
Jeb Bush was my (near) last hope for Republican presidential run. Oh Jeb, with your connections to Latino culture (including speaking fluent Spanish, a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies, and your Mexican wife and Mexican-American children), combined with your moderate outlook on conservative thinking, you could have courted Latinos, moderates, and millennials. Alas, your campaign was marked by not-success after not-success until you finally, tearfully had to throw in the towel this weekend.
Now that you’re gone, I must ask, what am I — and the rest of the legions of moderate Republicans voters — to do?
Yes, we still have Marco Rubio, but by all accounts, his thinking may be too conservative for real widespread appeal.
Trump? Cruz? Start looking for work abroad with the potential to move out of the country after the election...
Could we vote for a Democrat? (gasp!) Potentially, if it weren’t for the fact that the two leading candidates are considered, in the case of Hillary Clinton, almost completely untrustworthy; and what amounts to practically a curse-word in conservative circles (socialist) in the case of Bernie Sanders.
What is a moderate Republican to do?
While the jury is still out on who I and many Americans like me will entrust this November with our votes, I think one thing is clear: politics in America isbecoming polarized to the point where moderates (of either party) are having difficulty in casting our votes.
However, it is up to us to carve out better candidates, pay better attention to what they’re saying and if it’s accurate, and demand the kind of policies we deserve by not throwing our support behind those who don’t.
So, who will you vote for in 2016? But, more importantly, what will you do between now and the next election to (ahem) make America great again?