Informed Consent: Why I joined the Republican Party after 8 years of fighting with it

by Austin Baird

I’ve been an independent voter since I registered to vote and I’ve been proud of it. It has allowed me to sidestep the silly, stupid, damaging tribal identities that (I think) blind people to the efficacy or desirability of particular policies – forcing them instead to adopt whichever focus-grouped hashtag rallying cry their leaders slapped on a tweet. Earlier this year, I registered as a Republican to caucus against Trump and then immediately unregistered before Reince Priebus could sneak into my bedroom and try to sell my Ronald Reagan boxers or whatever the hell it is he does.

Now, after an election in which the Republican Party put what I consider to be the most abhorrent political candidate in recent history in office, after the GOP has already embraced Trump and decided to shrug off anything unconstitutional he says or does as long as he signs their legislation and appoints their SCOTUS justices, and after Trump wannabes and loyalists have started trying to take over the party and remake it in his glowing orange image, now is when I decided to register as a Republican and become a member of a party I’ve spent the better part of 8 years criticizing and that I’ve spent the past year in horrified shock of.

I joined the party for 2 reasons: (1) I identify with the ideology that the GOP still tries to tell itself it adheres to (even if it doesn’t even pretend to follow it in practice); and (2) The GOP has already proven that it plans to roll over for Trump and let him do whatever he wants. We need more moderate voices in the GOP, pushing back against Trump and his wannabes and acolytes and their unconstitutional, authoritarian plans. There’s no shortage of opposition in the Democratic Party, but, for the moment, the GOP seems willing to sell its soul for a couple of SCOTUS picks and a tax plan. I hope there are enough young, moderate members of the party to push back against the obstructionist, newly-authoritarian baby-boomer wing that will, if left to its own devices, destroy the party and a large part of our political system.

Even though I looked askance at McMullin’s presidential run, I’m pretty proud that the loudest Republican voice against Trump is a Mormon from Utah and BYU. I hope there are more voices like his in my new party.

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