I am a lifelong political animal and a longtime Maryland Republican. I worked on the staffs of Maryland Congresswoman Helen Bentley and Congressman/Gov. Bob Ehrlich. I also served on the GOP staff of the House Financial Services Committee.
I have lived my life, proudly, as a political moderate striving to make a positive contribution in and around the political arena — not an easy feat in deep blue Maryland, where an insular Democratic establishment has dominated state politics until very recently. But I have always been GOP to the core.
Growing up, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were my icons. My sense of party fealty is such that I worked on the paid GOP convention staff in Philadelphia in 2000, and again, just recently, as a professional volunteer on the speechwriting staff in Cleveland.
In fact, I personally drafted the speech of the “Benghazi mom,” Patricia Smith. In that speech, I concluded with the following line: “If Hillary Clinton can’t give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?” As a political speechwriter, that was something of a home run moment for me. The New Yorker called the speech “the weaponization of grief.”
But weeks after the end of the 2016 GOP convention, I am confronted by an inconvenient fact: Despite what I wrote in that nationally televised speech about Hillary Clinton, I may yet have to vote for her because of the epic deficiencies of my own party’s nominee.
President Eisenhower would have never proposed banning Muslims from America. Nor would President Nixon. Nor would President Reagan. Donald Trump has betrayed and perverted their legacies. Consequently, I no longer recognize my party.
I have never voted for a Democrat for federal office, but when I hear the president criticize the GOP nominee, I can’t honestly disagree with him.
I have no political home — a deeply uncomfortable place for me to be. My GOP pals regard me as a renegade, and my Democratic friends don’t know quite what to make of me.
What is this election really about? It should be about the future — every election should be. But this election is about the misery of the moment.