Staying in the Republican Party

From The Liberty Hawk:

I didn’t follow the post-2016 #NeverTrump Trend

The day after the 2016 election, Evan McMullin called for principled conservatives to leave the Republican Party. Since then, there have been many conservatives who did just that, including several I highly respect like George Will, David French, and Justin Amash. But I had several concerns about abandoning ship.   

First, I didn’t want my political affiliation predicated upon the actions of one politician. In 2016 and 2017, at least, Trump did not define the Republican Party. I did not want to set myself politically adrift as a knee jerk reaction. I didn’t want to be part of the cults of personality and anti-personality that I deride by overreacting to the words and actions of a single petty and vulgar man. I didn’t want to surrender my ability to support principled conservatives in the Republican Party and encourage an alternate vision from within the party.  

Second, there’s more about political affiliation than just the President. In Utah, I have Senators that I mostly agree with and support. Under the direction of Utah’s Republican Party, my state has become a bastion of economic growth, limited government, and free society. Being involved with the Republican Party in local and state-level affairs has mostly been positive. I didn’t see the point of surrendering my place at the table here, where I live, in a protest against the President that was unlikely to ultimately make any real difference.  

Third, I was trying to play the long game. I felt that, regardless of Trump, the Republican Party was still the institution best situated to reassert the values of American governance. I saw value in putting my efforts towards reclaiming the GOP. Or, at least, holding fast as a remnant of principle within the party, staying prepared to reassert traditional conservative values when Trump finally left the scene.  

Lastly, I believe in the importance of party affiliation, coalition building, and healthy institutions. I want to be part of the conversation and not just a member of the peanut gallery. If I left the Republican Party, I didn’t want it to be a quixotic gesture. I didn’t want such a personal shift to be a jump into the open sea. Absent the ability to step from one wholly established and relevant platform to another, it didn’t make sense to abandon the platform that still had the most potential for asserting my values in the future.