My Republican Party’s Principles

Deborah Rasberry

I have always been pro-choice and I have always been Republican. I understand the principle of my party to be the protection of the freedom of the individual to flourish and thrive.

Editor’s Note: The following is a submission received during our Pro-Choice Republican Essay Contest. We are delighted to feature the voices of Republican voters who shake off party orthodoxy and embrace pro-choice principles. Their views, of course, are theirs alone, and don’t necessarily reflect those of the site.

I am 52 years young and I have ALWAYS been pro-choice and I have ALWAYS
been Republican.  My convictions concerning women’s issues have been
central to my identity my whole life.  I might even call myself a
feminist, though not militant.  I feel that if 50% of the population of
a country does not have even the simple, basic, most personal right to
decide whether to bear a child or not, then most of the other rights we
are afforded as Americans are greatly diluted.  I also feel that if
that same 50% of the population is restricted, by having unwanted
children, to never fulfilling their potential as individuals, then the
whole world will suffer from the loss.  

I believe that bringing
children into the world that a parent cannot provide for emotionally or
financially is the worst of irresponsibility.  I believe that unless
women have the right to make their own decisions about pregnancy they
will forever be subject to financial and emotional dependence on men,
which will keep the relations between the sexes unequal and oppressive.  As long as
women can make their own decisions their male partners will be more
likely to listen and communicate respectfully and treat them with the
dignity and equality they deserve.  This will improve the parenting
skills and participation of both parents raising the next generation
and will be more conducive to producing psychologically healthy young
people, better capable of designing a world without war.

Our race has
gone long enough without women being granted their full rights as human
beings, and I am not about to trade those rights (or that of my
sisters) just to vote for a candidate who would crush those rights.

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This issue and the issue of protection of our environment and the
beautiful wild places of our country are the two things I have always
voted consistently and insistently for, but I have mostly had to vote
Democrat because I was so terrified my own party would fail miserably
in these areas.

When I first started voting in college, all the people I respected and
admired – my parents, my professors, my bosses, and my mentors – were
Republican, so it was natural that I would lean towards that party.
But I also asked around about what the differences were between the
Republicans and Democrats before I registered to vote as one or the
other.  I felt most proud of the logic and the principles that were
described to me as those of the Republican Party.  I understood these
principles to especially mean the protection of the freedom of the
individual to flourish and thrive, responsible for his own well-being,
with the knowledge that his efforts would bear fruit from which he
could be sure to benefit, himself. The commitment to a smaller, less
intrusive government as opposed to a welfare state seemed most
constructive to me, also.  Included in the Republican philosophy was a
belief in a strong military that would defend our rights, lifestyle,
and philosophy of humanity in a world where pacifism is naivete and could mean the destruction and
enslavement of all that we love and for which our ancestors fought and
died.  I also was convinced of our country’s unprecedented role as a
leader of the world in bringing freedom and prosperity to the average
person everywhere through democracy, capitalism, and the protection of
human dignity.

When I was in my late 20s, I moved to New York City from another
region of the U.S.  I was surprised to find a contempt for all
Republicans (and all those from outside the city) that was expressed
with uninhibited superciliousness.  I have now lived here for almost a
quarter century and have never heard a Democrat who could convince me
that my position was wrong.  The vehemence of their sarcasm and
pretentiousness just caused me to be even more determined to be true to
my principles and beliefs.  So here I am, surrounded, a minority, where
if I so much as mention that I support the war effort or am proud of
being an American, I am looked at with astonishment, as if the real
world had suddenly fallen in on the listener who had always assumed his
tiny world on this island was the whole world.

But with this pending presidential election I am more torn than ever
before.  I am repulsed by the New York Democrats’ vilifying of the
leaders of our country in the middle of a bloody war where young
Americans are laying down their lives.  I am sickened by the contempt I
hear in their jokes about "stupid Americans."  I am heart broken and
furious at their ignorant hatred of so much that I love and of which I
am so proud.  I am confident of McCain’s patriotism and intelligence
and experience and integrity.  I believe in the war effort and our need
to be in Iraq, and I do not want to betray the sacrifices of the young
men and women who have given their lives to protect us here in America.
Obama’s slip of tongue about the rural working classes who "cling to
religion and guns because they are bitter," and his wife’s announcement
that she has not been proud of her country until recently, and their
20-year alliance with a preacher who screams racist sermons from the
pulpit, and the trip to Europe to apologize for America when we are trying so hard
to do the right thing – all this makes me shudder!  For the first time
in my voting life, I cannot vote outside the Republican Party.  It
would feel as though I was voting against my own country.  I’m sick of
this!  I hope I have not caved in on my convictions concerning women’s
rights and the protection of the environment, because those causes are
so vital to me that I would feel that I was betraying myself if I
abandoned them.  But now I have to choose between my love for my
country and betraying myself. 

What am I to do?  It seems perhaps the only real option is to fight the
anti-choice and the rape-the-land factions from WITHIN my own party.
I’ve stood for what I believed in and spoken out loudly and strongly
many, many times when  my opinion was not the currently popular one.
What have I got to lose?  I haven’t died from it yet.  And besides, I
am now hearing that the majority of Republicans are pro-choice and
pro-environment like me.  Is this so?

Being peri-menopausal and therefore no longer concerned about my own
reproductive rights is no reason to give up the fight now!  There are
generations of young women to come who deserve the inalienable right to
their own bodies.  And as I age I will appreciate the forests and
mountains of my country’s wild lands more often than ever before.  I
cannot stop now.  It’s time to regroup and embrace a new strategy!  No
more riding on the fence between the Democrats and the Republicans!
Maybe there’s hope inside my own party!  The battle has only just
begun!

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