It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since the last election. During that time, I’ve remained in Jordan where I’ve had an outsider’s view of the Trump presidency. In some ways, I’ve been shielded from everything going on in the White House and with American politics – the distance serves as a filter of sorts that keeps me from getting too close. However, in other ways, I’ve seen the impact that this Administration has had internationally and the implications that even the smallest remarks and actions of the president have on a global scale. As we approach Election Day, I find myself reflecting on the state of American politics and where I fit. And, I find myself feeling very similar to how I did four years ago today…
I’m a Republican. It’s part of who I’ve always been.
I grew up in a Republican household. From an early age, I was introduced to politics and the principles of the Republican party. On weekdays, my dad would pick me up from preschool, and, when we got home, we’d eat lunch and listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. As a family, we often participated in political activities – from a departure ceremony for President George H. W. Bush at GSP International Airport to mailing letters to President Clinton prior to a family trip to Washington, DC, to nightly competition with Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes for my dad’s help on my math homework to watching Senator John McCain speak in a crowded firehouse in the 2000 primaries. Politics, and particularly the Republican party, was a part of life and a part of who I grew up to be.
My first job in politics was with then Representative Jim DeMint, who I interned for my freshman year of college. I went on to volunteer on his Senate campaign. This was my first taste of working in politics and where I really saw the work that Representative DeMint and his team did to serve the people of their district.
A few years later, I headed up to Washington, DC, where I had a fellowship working in the office of then Congressman Bob Inglis. He was a dedicated, caring, and humble leader. On a daily basis, I saw him and his staff work thoughtfully on key issues that our country continues to grapple with today, such as immigration reform and climate change, from a compassionate and conservative perspective.
After graduating from college, I returned to Washington, DC, to work at the White House, starting as an intern and then accepting a political appointee position in the Bush Administration.
It was through these experiences that I saw true servant leadership – from the elected officials that I worked for to the staff who supported them. I saw people of principle doing the best they could for their country. I saw them work to unite the differing groups they found themselves representing or leading. I saw the good in those that I worked for and the good that they tried to promote through their actions and policies. None of these people were perfect, but I can say that I saw them do what they thought best for the American people and our country.
Today, when I look at the Republican party, I’m ashamed at what it’s become.
I see what should be principled leaders caving to anything to try to win an election. I see what should make our country great being used to divide us. I see hatred, racial injustice, vitriol, fear, and suffering. I don’t see the party that I grew up supporting. I see lies, distractions, and disregard for those most vulnerable. I certainly don’t see people worthy of my vote.
It’s for this reason that I’ve chosen to support Joe Biden for president.
I don’t agree with all of Vice President Biden’s policies, and I certainly have concerns. But, the challenges that our country faces are far too great.
COVID-19 cases are climbing, and more than 230,000 Americans have lost their lives. Racial tensions have been enflamed with no justice for those wronged and no steps taken to bring communities together to address these issues that we must confront. U.S. leadership overseas is lacking, and our role in the international community has been significantly damaged. And, the humanity of our policies, particularly toward the most vulnerable – within our own borders and internationally – has seemingly been all but forgotten.
It’s times like these that call for experience, empathy, character, and the ability to lead our country and bring its people together.
When I look at the ballot, the candidate to do so is Joe Biden.
It’s not a perfect choice – our politics and the people of our country never are.
But, as Former Representative Bob Inglis said in a recent op ed in USA Today, “We now know, full well, who Trump is. The question is, ‘Who are we?’”
As Election Day approaches, I know who I am.
And, while it may have once been Republican – this year, this Republican is supporting Joe Biden for president. And, I hope that you will consider doing so too.