By Ryan Trabuco
“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.” — Theodore Roosevelt
My decision. My choice. Certainly, this wasn’t easy. Allow me to think this through.
I’ve always admired Theodore Roosevelt. He fought corruption, spoke out passionately about his beliefs in much-needed reforms, and was noted for his fairness in policy and politics.
Of course, you may also read that folks at the turn of the 20th century considered him belligerent and opinionated. Hell, I’ve been called worse. For every one of his critics, however, there were many more who considered him “the hero America needed” as author Michael L. Cooper penned in his 2009 biography on our nation’s 26th President.
What I admire most about Teddy’s legacy and leadership, was his ability to bring folks together — often transcending partisan politics — and in doing so, for the good of our country.
Many of Teddy Roosevelt’s decisions were not easy, such as leaving the Republican Party in 1912 — a party he was active in and helped lead as a New York Assemblyman, Police Commissioner, Governor, Vice-President, and President. The Republican Party had left him and tacked a hard right turn, and Roosevelt, through the passion of defiance, left the party to continue to champion those reforms, values, and ideas he held dear.
Today, I feel it’s the same path I must take as well. Today, I re-registered to vote as “No Party Preference” (a.k.a. “Independent”).
I assure you, no decision could have been harder for me, personally.
Freedom. Opportunity. Self-Reliance. State’s Rights. Government efficiency. There’s a sense of tradition and a value system — that I cherish and hold dear — you just don’t find in other political parties.
There’s a proud history of nearly 10 years here registering Republican voters. Volunteering. Fundraising. Knocking on doors, calling voters, doing anything I could possibly do to help Republican candidates win elections — pouring blood, sweat, and often tears into these efforts. Oh Lord, did I mention the tweeting?
For now, in this moment, I just felt it was the right choice to make.
As unfortunate (for a number of reasons) that I felt 2008 was a bad year politically, nothing could’ve prepared me for the slaughter of 2012. Of course, in the heat of election cycles, it’s easy to re-hash the talking points of a campaign, and paraphrase why you feel it’s better that voters should choose your side. There’s facts, graphs, logic, and ideology at play. What’s often overlooked though is governing, and the plan to govern.
There hadn’t been much thought about re-registering until recently, while watching the fiscal cliff debate play out over weeks on end. Speculation. Finger-pointing. The constant will-they-won’t-they approach to politics. Quite honestly, it was sick. For as bad as it was for Democrats, I couldn’t honestly sit back and defend the Republicans’ seemingly hands-off approach to governing.
I kept asking myself, “Where’s the leadership? Where’s the plan?”
Then, allowing the Democrats to figure it out on their own and then dictate the terms of whatever the compromise would be was embarrassing to say the very least. I can’t defend that.
I admit, I said for a long time that wild horses couldn’t drag me from my party — and they didn’t. The selfish behavior of those who would rather bring our country to its’ knees, rather than face the challenges ahead of us have drug the party away from me. The constant kowtowing to the Tea Party and like-minded ideologues have damaged the brand, the mission, and the spirit of the Republican Party.
Look at California. The Republican Party, here, is a mess. Enough said.
In San Diego, it’s not nearly as bad but there’s problems here as well. There’s nothing wrong with good-natured, well-intentioned, and much-needed government reforms, but there is a significant problem when you allow a single elected official — an emotional and personality equivalent to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — to dictate the focus of the party, and whether you are or aren’t welcome within the apparatus.
When Nathan Fletcher left the Republican Party last spring, I admit, I was more than disappointed and reflected those feelings to him over the phone. He said he was tired and over the drama. All the critics said it was political. After much soul-searching these last few weeks, I have to say that Nathan was right. I’m tired and over it, too.
All in all, I don’t feel there’s leadership. Or focus. I don’t feel there’s necessary attention being paid to strengthen the Republican Party. All talk, no action. I’ve said for years that the GOP needed to embrace it’s roots founded in the original 1856 Platform — a document that reads more like the blueprint for ideas in freedom and governance, rather than today’s GOP platform which specifically says what you can or can’t do in life.
Where’s the allure? What’s the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, aside from being polar opposites on the political spectrum? Nothing. God forbid you find yourself in the political center. You have no where to go.
All that said, where do we go from here?
I’m sure folks will say I’ve always been a squish. Not committed. Not conservative enough. That’s fine. That just shows that those folks have very little respect for the consistent work I did all those years. All the more reason for my decision to step aside, and re-register.
I am now a simple, registered voter who states that I have NO PARTY PREFERENCE. That doesn’t change who I am or what I believe. Our spending needs to be under control, I’m not in favor of big government or higher taxes — we need some desperate spending cuts, for sure. However, if I ever served as an elected official, I would have sense enough to know not to bring a government to its knees because of hard-headedness (a heartfelt sentiment to both parties).
Thankfully, I have no designs on political office. I’m too honest for it.
Now, there are good Republicans, and there are good Democrats. I’m honored to know both. It’s the self-interested ones on both sides of the aisle who need to reappraise their purpose in politics.
Hopefully, there will be a time in the very near future when the Republican Party evaluates itself in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. I pray it does. It would be an honor to re-register as a Republican under such circumstances. Until then, I will spend my time focusing on my commitments and service to my community, and encouraging camaraderie among others — no matter what their political persuasion may be.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” I’ve always been inspired to reach for the stars, and although I’m no longer a Republican, I feel as grounded as I’ve ever been.