When I turned eighteen, one of the first things I did was go down to the post office and register to vote. My parents, registered Republicans, had always actually encouraged their kids to register as Democrats. There really weren't that many Republicans in Nevada at the time, and the Democrats were generally conservative, and they just wanted it to be worth our time to vote in the primary elections.
I couldn't do it, though. I knew almost nothing about fiscal and social differences between the parties. I also had been brainwashed by liberal teachers toward liberal taxation policies (sales tax isn't fair because it is even across the board, graded income tax still isn't high enough for the rich, etc). But I was going to register Republican and there was ONLY one issue that made up my mind. Abortion. The Republican Party was Pro-Life, and it was very clear to me that abortion was killing a defenseless human being. I hadn't stepped foot in a church in years, but that was obvious.
Knowing history, I also took pride in belonging to the political party whose very inception centered on rectifying the evils of slavery. It was also the first political party to favor women's suffrage. Over the next few years, I learned a lot about conservative economics, social policy, and how these shape legislation.
There has been a lot of fuss this year about certain evangelical groups threatening to not support Guiliani if he gets the nomination. I have also heard from other Republicans that the main thing is party unity, and whether Guiliani gets the nomination or not, it is crucial that we stick together and support whatever candidate gets the Republican nod, because we cannot hand the White House over to the Democrats.
As a joke, I told a friend that I would vote for Hillary before I voted for Guiliani, if nothing else, just to tell the Republican Party to never let this happen again. I could not in good conscience vote for Hillary or any of the other Democratic candidates. They just do not represent my values or outlook on life. But for that very same reason, I could not vote for Guiliani or Romney, either. Both have pro-abortion and liberal political leanings that I cannot endorse with my vote.
The Republican Party was born on the platform that slavery was evil. That slaves have been denied their rights as human beings, and are entitled to those rights beyond anything else. They took a country to war over this -- a terrible but a just war. They also fought and pushed for the rights of women to vote for their representatives, to be heard by a court of law, and to own property. To abandon the history of standing up for those who are denied their human rights, as human embryos are now denied their right to their own hearbeat, their own existence -- would be turning their back on everything the Party has ever stood for, because in the end, it is saying that some do not have the right to basic existence, to have the opportunity to rise to their own potential, to the value that they were given by God. Those are the values that kept me Republican. To say that a human baby is not entitled to those rights unless its mother and its society says that it is worthy is against the party's very core foundational values. The party will not stand if it treats abortion as something that does not matter, and instead places the value on the party-name itself.
The Republican Party is not what is important. What is important is the role that it serves in representing those who register as Republicans. I am not Pro-Life or small government because I am a Republican. I am a Republican because they claim they are Pro-Life and small government as well. If the party should cease to represent its constituency, then the party has ceased to represent those who chose them. I would go elsewhere.
And while I would grieve this happening, I also am reminded that parties come and go. The Federalist Party collapsed and was replaced by the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party. If the Republicans cease to be truly conservative and are no longer the party that will right terrible social wrongs as it has done so well in its past, another party will rise up to represent those that the party abandoned and take over that role. I have no doubt.