Romper

I'm A Conservative Mom & I Can't Vote For Donald Trump

Courtesy of Carolyn Moore

Throughout the Republican primary, I watched with a growing sense of dread as Donald Trump managed to rise to the top of a crowded, talented field—and stay there. My brother and I followed the primary religiously (we attended a GOP debate last fall), and would frequently text each other about the race. Here was a man who appeared to be a walking contradiction to everything the Republican party seemed to stand for. He was brash and belligerent. Hopelessly uninformed on the issues. Historically not very conservative at all. Nothing he said or did surprised me. But now that he's on the party's ticket, Republican and conservative voters are faced with a choice. And even though I'm a conservative mom, I'm not voting for Donald Trump.

Whenever my brother would send links detailing Trump's latest outlandish outburst after we attended a Republican primary together, I'd send back the eye-rolling emoji with my pat reply: “Of course he did.” Trump mocked a disabled reporter? Of course he did. Trump failed to explain the nuclear triad? Of course he did. Yet Trump climbed higher in the polls? Of course he did. In the months since securing the Republican nomination, Trump has only compounded the reasons that make it impossible for a conservative like me to support him. He's been exposed as a predator, preying not just on women he treats as his for the taking, but also on basic human decency. And come November 8, I won't cast his name on my ballot.

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
When I think about explaining to my daughter who I supported in 2016 and why, I simply cannot justify Trump. Everyday, my husband and I try to instill in her the value of kindness, responsibility, humility, and honor. I can't imagine her one day learning about the way Trump devalues women and then realizing I condoned it simply because he had an “R” behind his name.

That now infamous tape of Trump boasting to Billy Bush during an Access Hollywood interview about "grabbing women" unfortunately came as no surprise to me. And in the days following, when the list of women accusing Trump of inappropriate touching and conduct over the years (incidentally, exactly the kind of thing he bragged to Billy Bush about on that tape published by the Washington Post) grew in size and scale, I texted that familiar line to my brother yet again: Of course he did.

As a traditionally Republican voter — and, more importantly, someone simply trying to exist as a decent human being — Trump's latest controversies are yet another example of how unfit I believe this man is to carry the banner for conservatism, let alone to inhabit the highest office in the land. And it seems I'm not the only one who feels that way. In a survey of 584 millennial moms (24.66 percent who identified themselves as Republicans) across the country put together by Romper, 23.12 percent of participants noted "Trump's comments about women" as one of the issues most concerning to them in this election. And for years, the Republican party has fended off accusations of being the party of rich, white men, among whom sexism and elitism quietly thrive. The recent exposure of Trump's alleged sexual misconduct has offered Republicans a chance to soundly squash that stigma by renouncing him. A few, like former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Republican Presidential nominee John McCain actually did denounce Trump, but the overwhelming majority of Republicans chose to look the other way and continue their support of the party's nominee. “But Hillary!” They'd cry. “It doesn't matter how horrible Trump is; we have to support him because he's the Republican on the ticket.”

Kena Betancur/Getty Images News/Getty Images
EDISON, NJ - OCTOBER 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends the Republican Hindu Coalition's Humanity United Against Terror Charity event on October 15, 2016 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey. Trump also campaigned today in New Hampshire and Maine. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

It's the kind of blind following that Trump himself is well aware exists among his backers. At a campaign rally in January, Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.” The past few weeks have seemed only to underscore the validity of that statement: for many Trump supporters, he can quite literally do nothing — not even commit sexual assault — to lose their allegiance.

That's a scary thing.

Even at age 8, she recognized the uniquely American privilege of selecting the leader of the free world. I tried my best to explain why choosing a candidate who would take that job seriously and execute it with dignity and compassion mattered. And Donald Trump doesn't fit that description, even through the most rose-colored of glasses.

Treating ethics as some sort of political pawn doesn't sit right with me. As political writer Marybeth Glenn said in a recent Twitter rant that went viral, it's that moral relativism that proved to be the final straw for many conservatives. As she puts it, “If you can't stand up and unendorse this human piece of garbage, you deserve every charge of sexism thrown at you.”

Donald Trump is a lot of things, but a conservative is not one of them.

The extreme statements on immigration. The repulsive winks and nods towards racist sympathizers. The demeaning attitude toward women. The utter lack of understanding of the Constitution. Trump is a square peg conservatives are trying to fit into a round hole, and not only is it bad for America, it's potentially disastrous to the future of the conservative movement. While you'd be hard-pressed to find a perfect messenger for conservatism (or any cause), Trump has proven he's as far from it as possible. And yet, conservatives far and wide cling to him with arguments like, “He could change,” or “Maybe he'll have advisers who'll talk some sense into him.” That's a dangerous handicap to attach to a presidential candidate whose ego is as big as Trump Tower.

No matter who occupies the Oval Office in a few months, I'll be able to look my children in the eyes and tell them I stood up for them.

When I vote for someone, I judge them on their principles, their actions, their ideals — not what I think they might become if I reward them with the office they're seeking. And I can't defend Trump's election to my children. I'm a stay-at-home mom to three young children (and one more on the way). During the Republican primary, I'd often live stream campaign events and news coverage, and my 8-year-old daughter noticed. She'd ask me about it, wondering who was winning and why. Even at age 8, she recognized the uniquely American privilege of selecting the leader of the free world. I tried my best to explain why choosing a candidate who would take that job seriously and execute it with dignity and compassion mattered. And Donald Trump doesn't fit that description, even through the most rose-colored of glasses.

When I think about explaining to my daughter who I supported in 2016 and why, I simply cannot justify Trump. Everyday, my husband and I try to instill in her the value of kindness, responsibility, humility, and honor. I can't imagine her one day learning about the way Trump devalues women and then realizing I condoned it simply because he had an “R” behind his name.

Courtesy of Carolyn Moore

Decency matters because my daughter and her sisters and brother matter. They are my litmus test during this roller coaster of an election cycle. They are why I cannot vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. They are why I'll cling to the principles that matter to me, and cast my vote for a third option. That way, no matter who occupies the Oval Office in a few months, I'll be able to look my children in the eyes and tell them I stood up for them.

Because of course I did.