I used to be a Republican.
When all the rest of my classmates were buying cigarettes and lottery tickets to celebrate their 18th birthdays, I registered to vote and proudly checked the R box, the fourth in my family. I voted for Alan Keyes in the 2000 presidential primary and George Bush in the general election. I thanked the powers that be that he won. I was a proud Republican, especially after moving to Texas and joining the masses.
Then I became a reporter. Yes, it is the liberal media, in the true sense of the word -- liberal in that we ask questions, we have open minds, we welcome change. I started reporting during an election year and went to several campaign events. I noticed something very interesting during those times. The Democratic candidates would come in and lay out issues they saw in Texas and suggested ways those could be resolved. They discussed their ideas and answered questions.
The Republicans whipped their friendly crowds into a frenzy by suggesting the world might come crashing to an end if "the mayor of THAT city" (Austin, the liberal bastion of Texas) was elected. Babies would be eaten. Guns would be melted down and used to build mansions for people who hadn't worked for them, or at the least would be taken from law-abiding citizens and given to criminals. The D-word was followed by hisses and boos.
(OK, it probably wasn't that extreme. But I never said I wouldn't be emotional about this. The gist is accurate.)
I was disillusioned with the Republicans I met. But I still fell into the more conservative pot. I believed in the death penalty. I supported the Iraq war. I wrote newspaper columns that drew the ire of the more liberal side of Texas Tech. I voted for George Bush in 2004.
The day after the election, shortly after the results were confirmed, I heard Bush on TV calling his 50-49 victory a mandate from the American people telling him to do everything he'd said he was going to do. There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I didn't agree with a lot of what he'd done and what he stood for. I voted for him because I believed I fell into line with him morally. I never respected him again. And sometime after that, I vowed to never be a Republican again. I felt betrayed.
Years later, I still do. I don't see the party as being moral or the party of family values. I see the squelching of dissent or even dissenting ideas. I see massive disrespect to minorities and women by people who call themselves Republican and who the party welcomes with open arms. I see too great an interest in self-preservation and loyalty to the party instead of the people. I see a lack of human interest, compassion and understanding while making too many excuses for poor behavior and bad decision-making. I see adults behaving like pouting children when major problems are on the line. I see temper tantrums. I don't see enough shame for the shameful things that happen.
This isn't just the Rs. Much of the above behavior is done by Ds too, which is why I suspect I'll be unaffiliated until I die or move to Europe. But the Rs betrayed me, time and time again, and would continue to do so today if I let them. It's much easier to forgive mistakes from a group I've never been a part of than it is in a group I once embraced. I should have realized then that what I thought was an embrace back was simply a mold for members to fit into.