Why I’m Staying in the Republican Party


Kyle’s resignation should be a wake-up call. November 2017 should have been a wake-up call. The murder of Heather Heyer should have been a wake-up call. Yet I have a feeling we’ll be hitting the snooze button all the way through the 2018 elections.

My good friend and (former) colleague on the 11th District Republican Committee Kyle McDaniel resigned from his SCC position yesterday, and announced he was leaving the Republican Party. I respect his decision and told him, as a friend, I support him. I was even quoted by the Washington Post in the article they wrote about him. During that short conversation, the Post reporter asked if I, as the Young Republican representative to the 11th District Committee, was considering leaving as well.

I told him “No.”

I joined the Republican Party because I’m a conservative. Just because many in the Republican Party have moved on from conservatism doesn’t mean that I will, too. The Republican Party is still the best platform to advocate for candidates and policies I support.

I’ve been asked a few times, given some of the disagreements I’ve had with fellow Republicans, what top three issues I would center the party on. Here’s what I tell them:

1) Free markets 
This includes promoting free trade, fighting protectionism, rescinding absurd licensing requirements, eliminating market-distorting subsidies and loopholes, reforming the tax code, and reducing regulations. When markets are free, small businesses are empowered.

2) Free people
We should adhere to the 10th Amendment, and limit the size and scope of government. We also need to hold government accountable, including the judicial system. When government is limited, individuals are empowered.

3) Pro-life
I’m fervently pro-life. That said, we also need to keep in mind that this topic calls for compassion, not aggression. People get pushed in the pro-choice direction when they see the self-serving legislative and campaign scramble to become the pro-lifest person who ever pro-lifed, which results in ridiculous legislation and even more ridiculous rhetoric that doesn’t help anybody.

These three positions call for a robust legal immigration system. Immigration is and always has been a positive benefit for the United States by creating economic opportunity. Every immigrant is another consumer who has an economic demand for housing, cars, clothing, food, cell phones, entertainment, and kitchen utensils. The demand they create for those products and services creates jobs.

Moreover, these positions value life and treat people with respect, no matter where they happen to have been born. If you believe, as I do, that God created man in his image and we are all His children, then it is our calling to treat all immigrants, illegal immigrants, asylees, refugees, and migrants as the human beings they are.

Some leaders in the Republican Party struggle with that.

I share many of Kyle McDaniel’s concerns, particularly concerning the rise of populist and nativist sentiments. Because I hold a pro-immigration position, I’ve been called a RINO. I’ve been called a globalist. I’ve been called a Cultural Marxist. I’ve been called a cuckservative. I’ve been called a race traitor. I’ve been called all of those things, by Republicans, for agreeing with Ronald Reagan.

People point out to me, as they’ve pointed out to Kyle, that these attacks don’t represent “most” of the Republican Party. Maybe they’re the loudest contingent, or they get all the attention. I think that’s correct: most Republicans don’t agree with Fredy Burgos that refugees are sub-human, or that countries should only be “rooted in a common ancestry,” or that Catholics are going to hell.

But many in the Republican Party enable those viewpoints by not addressing them. They defend and embrace those viewpoints when they stifle efforts to confront them. They argue, “Let’s not air our dirty laundry;” instead, they’d rather stink up the entire house. It won’t help us win votes, they say, as if demonstrating moral leadership would turn voters off.

This is a problem that requires more than just flatly denying that racism exists or issuing platitudes about equality or citing the 160-year-old history of the Republican Party. The only way to push back on perceptions that the Republican Party is racist is by pushing back on racism within the ranks of the Republican Party.

Kyle’s resignation should be a wake-up call. November 2017 should have been a wake-up call. The murder of Heather Heyer should have been a wake-up call. Yet I have a feeling we’ll be hitting the snooze button all the way through the 2018 elections.

Leaders in the party don’t want to rock the boat, which means that they get upset when I’m quoted by the Washington Post for stating the painfully obvious: The Republican Party today has trouble attracting support from young voters. Polls confirm this.The electoral shellacking we took in 2017 confirms this. Yet noticing that there’s a problem ruffles feathers.

I challenge us to do better.

Fortunately, I think we can and will, and that’s why I’m staying. I have an optimistic view of our long-term prospects, because Young Republicans are the future leaders of the party. Some, like Kishore Thota, Nadia Elgendy, Glen Sturtevant, Emily Brewer, Paul Prados, Willie Deutsch, and Ron Meyer, are already leaders and elected officials changing perceptions about the party across the Commonwealth. Anyone who knows these names knows they don’t agree on everything, and that’s okay. But our generation will shape what the party will become. That gives me hope that we can build a Republican Party that defends conservative principles and wins elections, all while respecting the dignity of individuals of all backgrounds.

Stephen Spiker is a Republican pollster and former campaign manager who currently serves as the Young Republican representative on the 11th District Republican Committee.

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