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The hardest political decision I ever had to make

The Ides of March fulfilled its destiny this year. As the evening began, I watched in horror as results from the primary elections started rolling in. Early to call was my home state of Florida. Then North Carolina. Then Ohio and Illinois. While Ohio went to John Kasich, all others were won by Donald Trump, who averaged 41 percent of the popular vote in the states he carried. By the time all votes were counted, Trump would add Missouri to his win column, making him the odds favorite to be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee.

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I drank heavily that night as I considered: How is this possible? How on earth is Donald Trump — arguably the most non-conservative Republican candidate in my lifetime — winning the GOP nom? I’d been attributing Trump’s wins to open primaries, where maybe independents and Democrats were voting for him as a joke. Or perhaps people had voted way early, before Trump started misspelling all the words, bragging about his penis size on national television and encouraging violence at his rallies. But now? Now we know what an uninformed, racist, misogynistic bully he is. You could have been on the fence in January, but February and March should have erased all doubts. So how are people in my GOP — the people I’ve aligned myself with for most of my adult life — voting so foolishly?

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I awoke the next morning with my answer, so obvious I don’t know how I’d missed it. The GOP is no longer my party. They left me, so now I leave them. After dropping my sons off at school, I printed out a Voter Change form, happily filled it out marking the “No Party Affiliation” box and walked it out to the mailbox.

I spitefully wrote “#NeverTrump” on the outside of the envelope (as if hashtags work in the postal system) and affixed one of my precious few remaining Ronald Reagan centennial stamps to the outside in protest. It was cathartic and felt so, so good.

I wasn’t always registered as a Republican. In 1993, when I turned 18 and was finally old enough to vote, I registered as a Democrat. There was very little thought behind that choice; I basically just did what MTV told me to do. In fact, I voted for Bill Clinton in the 1996 election for two reasons: Bob Dole was completely unrelatable to me as a 21-year-old woman, and Bill Clinton had appeared on a “Rock the Vote” episode, discussing his underwear preference. I thought if a dude was chill enough to openly discuss his drawers, he’d make a good world leader.

As I aged and actually began learning about political positions, I realized I was ideologically a conservative. I hold very few traditionally liberal positions and only a handful of moderate ones, and this has been true my whole life. I never changed into a conservative Republican; I just finally realized where I fit. I officially changed my political affiliation in 1998 and never looked back. I laugh now about that rogue Clinton vote, but inside I’m actually horrified at how uninformed I was when it was cast.

I’ve spent the better part of two decades now defending conservative positions, ones I still hold dear: the rights of the unborn, limited federal power, the importance of the Constitution, the need for our leaders to be people of faith. But now the GOP primary is being led by a man who doesn’t share my beliefs — by a charlatan, a trickster, a man who will literally say anything to be elected. And worse than all of that, a person who I believe just isn’t a good man.

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I will not be a part of the Party of Trump. I will not stand shoulder to shoulder with people who have voted for and endorsed this abomination.

It hurts my heart to see the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan hijacked by a two-bit huckster tapping into misplaced anger and fear, but there is nothing left for me to do but leave.

I am a Republican no more.

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