Ashamed to be Republican

Please excuse this post, which has nothing to do with writing. While doing research for my novel, I occasionally run into something that moves me emotionally, and need to speak out. This is one of those times.

True Confession:  I am a Massachusetts Republican who has lived in upstate New York for more than twenty years. Politically, this would probably make me a Democrat in the other forty-eight states. Still, it’s a label with which I identify, and I take matters personally when Republicans screw up.

This week, college reporter Heba Said reported in the UT Shorthorn about her experiences at the 2014 Republican convention.  By all accounts, it was insulting, and as a Republican, I am ashamed. Okay, I can see where some people might not realize that the term “Islamist” is offensive to other people, but Said also had to deal with overt mistrust from the police and humiliation from people who couldn’t believe anyone who looked “different” could possibly be American.

Asian Americans, have you ever been asked where you are from, and when you say “California”, hear them ask where you’re really from?  Said’s story is your story.

African Americans, have you ever been pulled over for a DWB (driving while black)?  Said’s story is your story.

Evangelical Christians, have you ever had to battle against the public schools to let your children express their constitutionally-guaranteed religious liberties?  Said’s story is your story.

There was a time when the Republican Party of the United States was on the cutting edge of human rights.  Though it began over multiple issues, the US Civil War was soon transformed into a war over slavery, with the North taking the stand that it was morally wrong for some people to be treated as less than fully human because they didn’t look the same. This wasn’t a universally popular stand, and the party suffered politically for taking it.

In the hundred years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, the GOP let this one slip away, and now we stand as the place where bigots, racists, and vulgar paskudnyaks of all flavors go to find solace. I still think of myself as a social conservative, and I despise big government, so it pains me to even consider voting for a Democrat most of the time — but all too often, the Republican Party leaves me no place else to go.

It’s embarrassing.