Thursday, May 5, 2016

On the GOP, Third Parties, and "Throwing Your Vote Away"

A couple of years before I was born my late-mother had the honor of introducing a visiting politician at the annual (and unfortunately named) Lincoln Day Dinner in Buncombe County, North Carolina. My parents got the visitor to sign the program from that event and it remains one of my father's prized possessions. The name of that visitor? Governor Ronald Reagan. I grew up in a Republican household and later had a couple of AUH20 bumper stickers passed down to me when my dad discovered them going through some old things. I cut my political teeth campaigning for that Governor's reelection as President when I was in eighth grade and I served as a delegate to county and district Republican conventions before I'd graduated from high school. With greater or lesser intensity I remained involved in Republican politics until my early forties save for a brief hiatus among the Constitution Party of South Carolina  in the late 1990s. While not considering myself a Republican since 2013, I continue to vote in Republican primaries and primarily but not exclusively support Republican candidates for office. This year, however, I will not be supporting the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump and plan instead to cast my vote for Darrell Castle, the nominee of the Constitution Party.

I have been told by a number of people that in so doing I am "throwing my vote away'" and that I'm "just helping Hillary Clinton." I'd argue that I'm doing neither but that even if I was that it is my right to do so, especially as a veteran who swore to lay down my life for the Constitution if need be (I note that because I have come under the harshest criticism from those who have never done so [those who have worn the uniform seem more tolerant regardless of what their own opinions may be]). In addition, I'd also ask my faithful Republican friends to consider the following historical example. My late grandfather, W.A.Collins, was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1900. After attending Davidson College and the University of Virginia he followed in his father's footsteps and opened a department store in the 1920s that later grew into a chain. Like almost all Southern whites at the time he voted Democrat and he did so in 1932 for one Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As a businessman he recognized the New Deal for the creeping socialism that is was and that caused him concern, so much so that the ballot in 1932 was the last one that he cast for a Democrat on the national level. With the possible exception of 1948, when he may have voted for States Rights Democrat Strom Thurmond (who was a friend of his whom he'd flown in his airplane to campaign events on occasion) he voted Republican at the national level until his death in 1982 (I'm sure he also voted Democrat at the state and local level for a good deal of that time as that was the only way to have a say in those elections for much of his life). He didn't get to see a Republican Presidential win in South Carolina until Barry Goldwater carried the state while loosing the national election in 1964. Four years later he got to see Richard Nixon not only carry the Palmetto State but also win the White House and just shortly before his death. he lived to see Ronald Reagan win South Carolina and the Presidency.

To those who would accuse me of throwing away my vote, I would point to Granddad's example -- he cast loosing ballots in his state for nearly thirty years before seeing a Republican carry South Carolina and it was some 32 years before he got to elect a winning elector in a national race. These days Republicans point to folks like him as pioneers and trailblazers. While I hope that the Republican Party returns to sanity in four years it may just be that I have to wait as long as he did to see my dissent bear fruit -- I'll be in my early 80s by then and am willing to wait if I have to. In the meantime I will be able to face my God and myself in the mirror with a clean conscience. 

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