On Shoes

Shoes. They’re a favorite topic of conversation — even a favorite pastime — for many.  They’re not just apparel or accessory; they’re a statement, an expression, a source of bonding.

Funny aside from long ago: Riley was turning 3, and I took her to the Sears Portrait Studio to have some pictures taken because that was when I was still a good mom and did those sorts of things. While we waited in line, another little girl, who appeared even younger, came in holding her mother’s hand.  She and Riley eyed one another up and down, as girls so often do, and then she cooed to Riley, “I like your shoes!” It was such a quintessentially girl thing to do, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even by early toddlerhood, we’ve learned to relate to one another over…shoes! 

Though I’ve never been all that big on shopping (unless we’re talking hardware or office supplies — or Target!), shoe shopping with my sisters or friends has most always been a fun occasion.  And what mom doesn’t smile (and maybe feel a slight bittersweet twinge) the first time her daughter borrows a pair of her shoes because they fit — both size and looks-wise? 

It isn’t just women who love their shoes — men get in on the act, too.  I’ve certainly spent some time in the Cole Haan store in Chicago with my beau while he’s ogled their stylish selection.  (Note to self: Leave some time for Cole Haan while in Chicago next month!) 

And when we wish to encourage empathy, we remind one another to “walk a mile in so-and-so’s shoes.” It sounds a bit trite, but really, there’s both wisdom and compassion packed into just those few words.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I watched my diverse group of friends express an exceedingly polarized array of opinions on social media, that we seem to have forgotten how to do that anymore.  Instead, we all too often seem primed and poised to hurl our Franco Sarto’s at one another rather than stopping to consider what a stroll in that guy or gal’s loafers might be like.  

And when this troubling development is raised, the instinctive response is to point a finger at someone else as the primary cause.  “They started it!” “It’s his fault!” “Welcome to fill-in-the-blank’s America!” I think there’s plenty of blame to go around, including a heaping spoonful compliments of our 24/7 news cycle and social media, which have formed a somewhat sick-and-twisted co-dependent feedback loop in an increasingly frenzied effort to garner the most clicks, likes or views.  Viral, indeed.  

Mostly, though, I blame us. That’s right — you and me.  Because ultimately, we are the ones who decide to click that mouse or flip that channel.  We are the ones who choose to hastily type and post that snarky response designed to verbally slap the smile off other’s faces while eliciting backpats from our like-minded posse.  We are the ones who, like Eddie Murphy’s mother in Delirious (WARNING: Language), whip our pumps boomerang-like through our monitors (and occasionally face-to-face) at one another — only it’s neither funny nor effective — unless your aim is discord.  And if, as you’re reading this, you’re thinking of a certain newly-inaugurated and questionably coiffed Twitter hound, stop and ask yourself this: Are you guilty of doing the very thing you condemn him for doing?  (Note: If your answer to this is, “He’s way worse,” your reflector might not be functioning properly. Poor form isn’t subject to the theory of relativity.) 

That’s just it, though — we don’t stop, think, reflect anymore.  We react.  Faster and faster with each technological “advancement”.  And we sure as hell don’t contemplate 5,280 feet in someone else’s footwear.  (That’s feet, as in distance, not appendages, by the way.)  Shoot, at this point, we’re loathe to acknowledge others’ right to march to their own drummer. If they’re not in sync with us, then they’re enemies, evil, worthy of our scorn, not our friendship, our compassion, or even common courtesy.

So, for instance, today, I have many friends who are marching in D.C. and other cities across the country — including my own.  Their stated reasons vary, but politically align primarily on the leftward side of the spectrum.  And I have other friends clucking at this, sneering, expressing their disgust with these marchers because of their beliefs.  Next Friday, I’ll have many friends marching in D.C. and other cities across the country — including my own.  Their reasons will vary a bit less, as it’s a singularly focused event, but politically align primarily on the rightward side of the spectrum.  And I’ll have some of the very friends who are marching today, clucking, sneering and expressing disgust at these “others.”  

These are women (and some men, but primarily women) who, in recent times, might have happily gotten together for a night of wine Bunco; who’d have shared over the phone their concerns about their significant others, their parents, their children; who’d have kvetched about their jobs; who’d have gladly spent an afternoon traipsing through DSW, Macy’s and Dillard’s trying on shoes; who’d have stood in line or at a party and broken the ice by exclaiming, “Ooh, I love those shoes!”  But now?  No.  She’s either on board with your point of view, or she’s dead to you. We may have laced up our tennies to march with purpose and pride, but we’ve apparently lost our way.

And, no, I don’t believe it’s always been like this.  While my immediate family was on the same page politically as I was growing up, my parents’ best friends (and my godparents) were in different books. My beloved Grandmother was a staunch Republican, while my parents were diehard Democrats, and there was never so much as a thrown fork or slammed door.  One of my best friends in law school was as conservative as the day is long and we fought all the time over politics and such — but in friendly fashion. It was the Euchre matches among our group that got truly heated — but even those didn’t touch what now passes for “discourse”.  And most importantly, my views have evolved over the years from quite liberal to moderately conservative/libertarianish while the same people appear to have liked and loved me just the same.  Recently, though, I’ve felt increasingly as if some of those relationships were on rather thin ice — like the wrong comment or shared article on social media might suffice to sever a years-long bond.  

Ironically, it was the words of our previous President  — someone with whom I’ve rarely agreed — which were then called to mind: 

If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Okay – so that referenced skin, not shoes, but the point is the same.  We’re so afraid to do that anymore — or worse, it doesn’t even occur to us, like it’s beneath us to extend that sort of consideration to one another.  As someone who’s spent much of my life being “wrongheaded” in the eyes of many people I know, respect and love, I call hogwash.  Your ears aren’t going to fall off and you’re not going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West if you hear or read a viewpoint that doesn’t match your own.  You may not ever agree with it.  You may even find it uncomfortable or even repugnant. But you will live. And maybe, just maybe, gain a smidge of understanding as to where that other person is coming from.  Which isn’t a horrible thing. In fact, when you realize that, viewpoints aside, they lace their shoes up just like you, the world starts to look a little less angry and bleak.  

I took a moment yesterday afternoon to remark on Facebook on the fact that the presence in my timeline of vastly different takes on the transition from Obama to Trump assured me that I have a diverse group of friends. I love them all, and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’d gladly walk a mile in their shoes — or, at least, with them in their shoes.  Or better yet, go shoe shopping.    


The Message We Send

Several friends shared this tweet by Kim Carroll (whom I do not know):

“If you’re making excuses for sexual assault because you don’t want to lose an election, you ARE Hillary Clinton.


I hesitated before sharing it myself, as I knew it would likely rankle some of my other friends.  Ultimately, though, I felt compelled to post it – and to elaborate on  my reasoning.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I do not like Donald Trump.  I have never supported his candidacy – have,  in fact, objected loudly to it since June 16, 2015.  I have stated repeatedly that I will not be voting for him.  I also do not like Hillary Clinton.  I have never supported her candidacy and have stated repeatedly I will not be voting for her either.  My reasoning as to both is fair game for discussion but is not the purpose of this post.

The purpose of this post is to state why Donald Trump’s comments — and how we react to them — matter.   They’ve been excerpted (and replayed) elsewhere, but I will set them out here (somewhat reluctantly) in order to make my point clear:

Trump: “Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

Bush: “Whatever you want.”

Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Unlike some, I’m not overly shocked by the comments.  I have, in fact, heard similar statements before.  No, not all men speak like this – and no gentleman does – but some men do.  And it comes as zero surprise to me that Donald Trump falls into that category.  (Frankly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.)  Actually hearing the audio and watching the video of him emerging from the Access Hollywood bus with Billy Bush only to make a show of hugging the woman whose appearance sparked their comments is a bit jarring – more so than reading them in print.  There is no question that Trump made the comments; we get to hear them straight from the horse’s [ass’s] mouth.

I’ve seen many draw the distinction that these are just words and not actions (like, say, another prominent male politician whose wife is seeking the same office as Trump.)  That is true (and I’ll circle back around to Bill in a moment.)  However, Trump’s words imply that these are actions he’s already taken. On multiple occasions.  What if he’s just bragging, though?  What if he’s never actually just started kissing on a woman without waiting? What if he’s never just grabbed some woman in the most intimate of ways without first verifying her consent (because “when you’re a star…you can do anything”)? We’ll go with that, and set aside the allegations that have been made by more than one woman that Trump has, in fact, acted in just such a way (because we don’t have incontrovertible proof of such – just allegations.)  This means that, in his view, kissing and grabbing a woman “by the pussy” (side note to Donald – it’s not a handle) without her consent is something to boast about; something which ought improve his image in the eyes of others; something about which men should laud and applaud other men.  It isn’t.  It’s sexual assault.

No, really, it’s squarely within the legal definition of sexual assault. Some may balk at that because it seems like such a harsh characterization, but that is exactly what it is.  And anyone who believes that boasting about either doing it or having the intent to do it is just hunky-dory, needs to be disabused of that notion right quick.  I say this as a woman who adores men and in no way views them all as predators.  However, I also say this as a woman who on occasion has been groped or touched in inappropriate ways by men (or boys) who did not have my consent for same, and yet didn’t feel I had the right to object.  I may have jumped away or yelped or even tried to laugh it off, depending on the circumstances, and to be very clear, I was (luckily) never harmed physically. But I was made to feel like an object, and it was and is belittling and demeaning.  In hindsight, I regret not objecting and not making it clear that this was not okay – for two reasons: First, because I believe many men, if they realized how it made women feel, would not engage in such behavior, particularly not if they thought of it in terms of their mothers, sisters, wives or daughters.  Second, because those men who simply don’t care how it makes women feel should not be given a pass.

Most importantly, I say this as the mother of a fourteen year old girl.  And quasi-step-mother to sixteen and eighteen year old girls.  And aunt to seventeen and twenty-one year old nieces.  I adore all these young women beyond belief, and I don’t ever want any of them to think that it’s okay for someone else to touch them without their consent, or to belittle or demean them by treating them as anything other than the dear beautiful souls they are.

So let’s be crystal clear on this: Kissing a woman or touching her private parts without her consent is NOT OKAY.  Bragging to others about having done so is NOT OKAY.  Giggling with others over your intent to do so is NOT OKAY.  And if you wish to be a nation’s leader, if you wish to have millions of people (including women) place their trust and faith in you to set the tone and steer the course for our country, saying what Donald Trump said is NOT OKAY.

“But it was 11 years ago!” some exclaim.  Yes, it was.  Setting aside that Trump was a 59 year old married man at the time, who hadn’t the slightest compunction about sharing with others his “heavy” pursuit of a married woman (Nancy O’Dell), that still isn’t long enough ago to excuse him from issuing a full-throated apology and repudiation of the comments – which he hasn’t done.  Nothing in his statements about it since indicates he has the slightest clue as to why his comments were inappropriate – only that he knows others were offended by them.

“Bill Clinton has said and done worse,” others point out.  Yes, though we don’t appear to have handy audio or video of quite such a crude comment or of his acknowledged indiscretions or alleged improprieties, I’m willing to accept that it’s extraordinarily likely that he has.  But nothing Bill Clinton has said or done excuses Trump.  Does the fact that many have elected to give Bill a pass and/or to deny that any/all of his alleged malfeasance actually occurred exhibit an ugly double standard?  Yes, it most certainly does.  If you’re willing to give one person a pass for the same thing for which you’re condemning another, purely because the political party/affiliation of the former aligns with yours, you’re being a disingenuous hypocrite.  And I have to acknowledge that I’m guilty of that.  I voted for Bill Clinton twice (though that was before most of his bad behavior was known), and I’ve even recently mused that I might be more willing to vote for him than either Donald or Hillary.  I was only half serious (as that’s virtually an impossibility) but I was wrong to do so, even if it was to make a point. The fact remains that Bill Clinton’s bad behavior – whatever your belief as to the extent of it – does not excuse Donald Trump’s or anyone else’s. 

“Hillary Clinton has enabled Bill and victimized his accusers.” This is often pointed out, as well. And certainly, if even half of the allegations are true, she’s rightly criticized for doing so.  But even assuming all of them are true and she’s as ruthless and calculating as many believe her to be, that still does not excuse Donald Trump – and if you’re attempting to excuse a grown man gleefully recounting his past (or contemplated) physical assaults on women because you don’t want her to win, then yes, you are doing the very thing she’s accused of doing.  You’re rationalizing bad behavior – which you’d likely not tolerate if it were directed to yourself or a loved one – for political purposes. 

Two wrongs never do make a right and the lesser of two evils is still evil.  If you’re someone who’s decided that despite his multitude of flaws, you’re still willing to vote for Trump in an effort to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning, I accept that, even while I won’t be joining you in that endeavor.  What I don’t accept is any attempt to excuse and normalize his comments or the behavior they describe.  They are NOT OKAY. And I don’t want my daughter, or yours, or anyone’s son to come to the conclusion that they are because we ultimately elect (or vote for) a man who thinks they are.  






The Tow-Truck Driver & the Teacher

News broke yesterday out of North Carolina – no, not about who has to use which bathroom – but about a tow-truck driver who, upon learning his intended customer was a Bernie Sanders supporter, declined to lend his services.  Why a Trump-backing tow truck driver says he refused service to a Sanders supporter.  Now, Mr. Shupe had his reasons – and from a business perspective, they make sense. He’s had bad experiences of late with “socialist-minded person(s)” not paying their bills.  As he put it, he’s been “Berned – with an ‘e’ not a ‘u.'”  But the fact remains, he left a young woman in need of assistance – which he was especially equipped to provide – on the side of the road with an inoperable vehicle. 

As soon as I saw the headline, I thought, “Oh, boy – here we go.” And right on cue – the partisans showed up brandishing either outrage or smug satisfaction, depending on their respective political camps.  I thought about diving in – particularly when I saw comments re: lawsuits being thrown out there.  No, what this guy did wasn’t illegal or actionable at law.  (I’m not going to belabor that here.)  But it was ungentlemanly and unkind.  I, like many others, was reminded of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, and disappointed in the way Mr. Shupe chose to respond.  Even more so when I read past the headline today to this excerpt:  

“Something came over me, I think the Lord came to me, and he just said get in the truck and leave,” Shupe told an ABC affiliate. “And when I got in my truck, you know, I was so proud, because I felt like I finally drew a line in the sand and stood up for what I believed.”

According to Fox Carolina, Shupe identified himself as a conservative Christian who supports Donald Trump. McWade, however, told The Post that she felt he didn’t “exactly exemplify his belief.”

I’m sorry – I don’t see how those two concepts reconcile.  And it saddens me that this seems to be where we are in this day and age.  

It isn’t just Mr. Shupe, though – I’ve heard and seen several people championing Mr. Shupe today, chuckling over his commentary (which, granted, was clever). In fact, I heard one gentleman proudly recount a story about how just the other day, he taught a young waitress a valuable lesson.  She apparently was sporting a Bernie sticker on her apron, and he engaged her in conversation over this, delving into her reasoning which appeared predominantly to center on the idea of “free college tuition” – an idea of understandable appeal to a 20 year old.  The man explained to her how, of course, it isn’t really “free” – it’s being paid for by the taxpayer, which means you and me and even her – just on the back end/out of her back pocket.

It sounded as though he did a nice and somewhat thorough job of explaining that almost everything has a cost and someone has to pay.  (I was with him up to that point!) But then he got to what seemed to be his punchline – she brought the bill, and to ensure she learned her “lesson,” he wrote in “$0.00” for the tip. Ha! Get it?! NOW she’ll see what “free” is!  Woot! You sure showed that young lady, Mister!  

Sadly, I have a sneaking suspicion the “lesson,” this waitress will take away from this encounter was that conservatives/Republicans are jerks – so why bother to listen to their ideas?  Maybe not. One can hope.

I’ll be honest: I’m tired. I’m tired of people being ugly to one another – in the name of politics, or religion, or just in general. I’m tired of having to explain how the actions of people who theoretically claim the same labels as I do – “conservative,” “Christian,” – don’t represent me or those ideals.  No, friends – I am most certainly not without fault. None of us are.  But we can do better than this.  We need to do better than this.  



Where Did Our Love Go?

I brought this up on “Q with a View” last night, and it stuck with me, so I thought I’d flesh it out a bit in writing.

One of the themes heading into 2015 was what a strong bench the GOP had (compared to the Democrats.)  Ultimately 17 candidates threw their hat into the race:

  • 5 former Governors
  • 4 sitting Governors
  • 4 sitting Senators
  • 1 former Senator
  • 1 World-renowned Neuro Surgeon
  • 1 Former Fortune 100 CEO
  • 1 Billionaire Businessman/Reality TV Show Star

They were geographically diverse (with solid ties to NY, FL, VA, NJ, WI, MI, AR, LA, KY, TX, CA, SC, PA & OH).  They were demographically diverse (2 Hispanic candidates, 1 African American, 1 Indian, 1 woman, and, as my co-host Jason Dibler rightly noted, age-diverse, ranging from age 44 to age 7o).

Now, personally, I’d submit that this was a decent lot.  However, ‘twould seem that familiarity breeds contempt; and if it doesn’t, preference for one often leads to it as to others. But assuming, as some contend, that this roster constitutes a sorry gaggle, I must ask: Who wouldn’t/doesn’t?  Who fits the bill in terms of not being a lousy candidate for President?



A Couple Points of Clarification

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been faced with the realistic possibility that I won’t be able to vote for the Presidential nominee of the party I favor.  Most of us have been faced from time to time (maybe even most of the time) with the “lesser of two evils” choice.  And I suppose, in a way, planting one’s flag on #NeverTrump Island is a form of that, as well.  But it surely raises questions (and sometimes on social media – blind fury) from those who think he’s just peachy, and even from those who think he’s not, but still preferable to a Hillary Clinton (or substituted Democrat of your choice) Presidency.  So, to the extent that it matters at all, I have some answers.

1. How can you say you’ll never vote for Trump when even his primary opponents (Cruz, Kasich & Rubio) say they’ll support him if he’s the nominee?

Hey, I’ll admit it – there was a part of me last night during the debate that hoped Rubio, or at least one of the non-Trumps, would boldly declare his refusal to support Trump on principle, but I’m a fairly pragmatic person when it comes to politics. The downside to doing so likely outweighed the upside. First, as Cruz rightly pointed out, they did all sign a pledge to support the nominee, so refusal to do so would be brought up repeatedly as evidence of their willingness to go back on their word.  Second, as Rubio rightly pointed out, the Democratic alternatives really aren’t palatable.  Third, while it appears likely Trump will be the nominee, he doesn’t have it yet. Thus, agreeing to support him if he is the nominee doesn’t mean agreeing not to continue fighting tooth and nail to prevent that from happening.  So, no, I can’t find much fault with their answers.  And I was gratified that Trump’s answer was that he, too, would support the nominee, even if it isn’t him.

That doesn’t change my stance. Because my #NeverTrump stance isn’t predicated on my support for Rubio (or Cruz or Kasich.)  As I explained the other day In Defense of Marco Rubio and the #NeverTrumps, I was #NeverTrump before he even entered the race, and long before I settled on Rubio as my preference.  And that Rubio is my preference does not translate into me thinking he hung the moon or can do no wrong.  I don’t agree with everything he says and does.  He’s a political candidate and a human being. Not a deity.  Further, despite having selected Rubio as my choice, I’m #NeverTrump, not #AlwaysRubio or #OnlyRubio.  I can (and will) support any of the other remaining candidates.

That’s how I can say I’ll never vote for (or support) Trump, regardless of what Rubio or Cruz or Kasich say or ultimately do.

2.  How would you feel if someone started up a #NeverRubio movement?

Well, again, as I stated in my prior piece, I’d raise an eyebrow, shake my head, and possibly question the rationale behind it, but I wouldn’t berate them for it.  If someone feels that strongly about opposing Rubio, then no, they shouldn’t vote for him or support him.  That said, if the only motivation for doing so is to counteract the #NeverTrump movement, I’m not certain how successful it would be. First, it’s derivative. Second, it’s inaccurate unless one means that they won’t support or vote for him no matter what. Most people I’ve seen voice support for other candidates have said they could vote for Rubio in the General if it came to that. But, hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Lastly, as I tweeted out yesterday, “A criticism of your preferred candidate =/= a personal affront to you. If you take it that way, you may want to reassess perspective.” I wouldn’t be pleased with such a campaign (obviously!) but I wouldn’t take it personally. It’s not about me. I’m not Rubio, and he is not the vessel for all my hopes and dreams.

3. Are you okay with the RNC stealing the nomination away from Trump?

No. Not if it means monkeying with the rules as currently written. The odds of a brokered convention seem to be increasing. This piece and the prior ones linked therein set out the nitty gritty of how that might play out.  It’s complicated and complex, and I haven’t fully wrapped my brain around it, but if it would take a sudden rule change in order to block Trump, I’m not on board with that.  It doesn’t make much sense for me to take a (somewhat controversial) stance on principle, then turn right around and dismiss notions of proper process and fair play.  I’m not an ends-justify-the-means person. Or, at least, I strive mightily not to be.

Regardless, I came to an unfortunate realization yesterday – the damage is already done. Not that there won’t be more – I’m sure there will.  But the divide between the factions on the right has bubbled up to the surface, and I don’t believe it can be repaired in this election cycle.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.  This has certainly been a season like no other.



In Defense of Marco Rubio and the #NeverTrumps

Rubio, the Conservative

One thing I’ll never be accused of lacking is stubbornness – I’m a Missouri mule through and through.  However, as I’ve grown older (and theoretically wiser), I’ve had to learn that “being right” isn’t the be all-end all of life.  Faith, family, friends – those are what matter most. And often, in order to honor those, one must learn to stand down and focus on what IS right, rather than on BEING right.

That said, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge when one is put to me – particularly in the realm of politics. So, when my friend Jamie Allman, a local radio and television host, voiced some criticism yesterday of those employing the #NeverTrump hashtag, I decided to call in to his radio show and share my thoughts in defense of the #NeverTrump sentiment.  I’ll come back to that in a bit, but in the meantime, Jamie replayed our discussion this morning and followed it with a query as to how a #NeverTrumper can claim to hold that stance based on conservative principles, yet still support Marco Rubio, whom some claim is a Liberal – or, at least, a liberal Republican.

There’s no question that as this race has developed, Rubio has merged into the “Establishment” lane, particularly as other Establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich have failed to gain traction.  (Jeb! even moreso than Kasich.) And Rubio is possessed of several positions which would rightly land him at least partially in that camp – most notably, his role in the infamous “Gang of Eight” debacle.  However, I find it rather amusing that a guy swept into office on a Tea Party wave, who took on Charlie Crist to get there, is now to be written off as an undesirable Establishment guy.  And I find it ludicrous to characterize him as a Liberal.

Ludicrous?  That’s a strong word.  Well, here’s why I think it’s fitting:

  • Marco Rubio has a lifetime ACU (American Conservative Union) rating of 98 (out of 100).  That puts him fifth among sitting US Senators in terms of conservatism, behind only Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Tom Coburn and Ron Johnson, and one spot ahead of Rand Paul. ACU Ratings – US Senators
  • Marco Rubio has a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.  NRLC Rating – Rubio
  • Marco Rubio was rated a “Taxpayer Super Hero” by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. Citizens Against Government Waste Ratings
  • Marco Rubio has a 90% rating from Gun Owners of America and a B+ rating from the NRA (National Rifle Association).  A summary of Rubio’s ratings on guns can be found here: Marco Rubio’s Ratings & Endorsements (scroll down for guns).  A summary of Rubio’s positions/statements on guns can be found here: On the Issues – Rubio – Guns
  • Rubio’s ratings on a variety of topics can also be found at the two preceding links.


Hundreds of articles have been written in support of Rubio:  Here are two which specifically  make the case for him as a Conservative:

The Conservative Case for Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is Plenty Conservative

So, no, I don’t consider it fair or accurate to characterize him as a Liberal.  In fact, his record demonstrates a strong case for why he’s one of the more conservative candidates we’ve had in recent years.  That doesn’t render him perfect – not by any stretch of the imagination.  (He’s a good deal more hawkish than this hawkish-dove; his proposed tax policy isn’t my favorite; and his immigration stance has been troubling.  However, I can live with his current stance on it. (For more on that, see the Immigration heading here: Rubio on Immigration. For what I consider a very thoughtful take on the issue, see Annie Frey’s recent piece on the topic: IMMIGRATION: CONSERVATIVES & AMNESTY.))

Once the primary was underway, I took my time committing to a candidate. I sized up their respective positions.  I took the “I Side With” Quiz (which is actually fairly thorough if you click through all of the questions) back in June and got these results:

Rubio – 82%
Santorum – 81% (which surprised me)
Cruz – 79%
Walker – 79%
Paul – 78%
Carson – 65%
Sanders – 52%
Clinton – 46%
Fiorina – 37% (another surprise for me)

But I didn’t commit at that point.  I waited and watched the primary unfold.  I watched their debate performances.  I kept an eye on the polls regarding their match-ups with Hillary Clinton (whom I considered to be the likely Democratic nominee.)  And Rubio did eventually win me over.  When asked by a friend to explain my (January) declaration of my support for him, I responded with this:

  • His policy stances match closest to mine of the current candidates
  • He’s a policy wonk
  • He has a record of conservative accomplishments in Florida (including limiting the impact of the Kelo decision)
  • He took on (and beat) Charlie Crist
  • His tax plan is okay, though could use some tweaking (I actually prefer Cruz’s)
  • He’s electable
  • He has a good sense of humor
  • He’s intelligent and quick on his feet (usually – New Hampshire debate? Not so much!)

I should note that when I recently took the “I Side With” Quiz, I got a 90% match with Cruz and an 85% match with Rubio.  By that point, my sense that Rubio would fare better in the General Election kept me in his camp, but I like Cruz and happily claim him as my second choice. One thing I said at the outset of the primaries though was that there were two GOP candidates for whom I could not and would not vote: Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump. Huckabee’s a long story for another day, but my opposition to Trump has been a constant since before he officially announced in June (long before I settled on Rubio as my choice or even thought he (Rubio) had a serious shot at the nomination) and has remained steady ever since.  Which brings me to:

A principled opposition to Trump

When Jamie was kind enough to take my call yesterday, I was a bit nervous, so I’m not certain I recall all of the reasons I gave, but I do know I mentioned concern over several of his not-so-conservative positions and his authoritarian impulses. What I may not have been clear about is that, yes, a good deal of it also has to do with his style.  More than anything, one of the key factors which I take into consideration as to any candidate is whether (and how) I’ll be able to defend my support of him or her – and do so credibly. And I do not feel — have never felt — that I could do that with Donald Trump.  His rhetoric is bombastic and often a bridge-too-far (feeding into the negative stereotypes assigned to Republicans and Conservatives), and even if I could look past that in order to get behind his core principles, I’ve never been able to discern with any confidence what his core principles actually are!  In short, he’s never come anywhere close to closing “the deal” with me.

And I’m not alone in that.  Of the multitude of articles I’ve encountered expressing opposition to him as the nominee, these three best (and far more eloquently than I can) capture and express my sentiments on the topic:

Never Trump

Clarifying the Message of Never Trump

An Open Letter to Trump Supporters

This is why I decided (months ago) that should Donald Trump become the GOP nominee, I will write in someone else (probably Rubio, maybe Calvin Coolidge) for the Presidential spot and vote the down-ticket races.  I would never not vote. I was raised on politics, and the thought of sitting out an election goes against the core of who I am. Nor could I bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton. (As cool as the thought of electing a woman President may be, I’ve never cared for Hillary, not even when I was still a liberal Democrat who voted for her husband – twice. More on that in a moment.)

What happens, though, when one makes this sort of declaration, is that others object. They argue (and there’s a legitimate logic to this) that a non-vote for the GOP nominee is a de facto vote for Democratic nominee. Sometimes they even try to bully or guilt you into walking it back — a tweet the other day insisted that because I’d survived breast cancer, I couldn’t possibly shirk my obligation to vote for Trump in order to stop Hillary.  (That one left a little to be desired in the logic department. Points for originality, though!)  Well, I won’t be guilted or bullied into violating my conscience.

The argument that I’m duty bound to support my party’s nominee no matter what fails for me, as well.  Because, you see, I’m not a Republican.  I’m a Conservative (or, to be exact, a recovering liberal Democrat who converted to conservatism a dozen-or so years ago, and who can most accurately be described as a fiscal conservative/social moderate/with libertarian leanings – just like it says on my Twitter profile!) And the primary reason I’m not a Republican is because as I’ve grown in my understanding of and appreciation for conservatism, I’ve repeatedly been disappointed by the way the GOP as a party handles – well, just about everything.  The GOP’s knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is legendary.  And for the past five-or-so years, as I’ve been more active in the conservative movement, I’ve been right there alongside the “grass roots,” railing against the Establishment when it was clearly selling out core conservative principles. For me to turn around now and vote for a nominee whom I don’t believe espouses or even truly understands what conservatism is simply because he has an “R” behind his name would be just as much of a sell out.  So I won’t do it.

What I also won’t do, though, is run down those who’ve chosen to back him (or another candidate.)  So if someone were to start a #NeverRubio movement, I’d raise an eyebrow and shake my head, and I might even question them about it – but I won’t attack them for it.  We all have our reasons for supporting certain candidates and not supporting others.  I may find other’s reasons lacking (as I’m sure some will find mine), but in the end, we’re all Americans, trying to elect leaders we feel will best do honor to their offices and their country.  Hopefully, sometimes, we get it right.