Column: I’m a conservative. And here’s why I can’t vote for Donald Trump.

Column: I’m a conservative. And here’s why I can’t vote for Donald Trump.

Below is a column from guest contributor Adam Oestmann.

Most people who know me casually know that I come across as fairly apolitical. I’m not, and, truthfully, it’s born out of nothing more than the social media driven relationships we all have in 2020. Simply put, I think Facebook (insert Twitter, etc.) is a bad place to have a conversation. I believe in the value of being able to look in your eyes and have you see mine when we talk about the things we are passionate about. I want to hear the inflection in your voice as it almost breaks, near tears, when you tell me how you have been hurt by a system that prioritizes whiteness. And I want you to hear the truth in mine when I assure you your words have not fallen on deaf ears, even if they are ears still not used to hearing that truth. Of course, COVID has made those kind of conversations more difficult in 2020, and Facebook downright sucks for it.

As the caption reads, I’ve identified myself as a conservative for the purpose of writing this, but I’ll ask that you don’t draw your own conclusions about what that means. I chose the word because I think it’s the most recognizable and speaks most closely to my track record as an American voter. Let me tell you in my own words what I believe:

As a Christian, I believe in Biblical moral authority. I also believe in Grace. I believe in the sanctity of life from conception to the grave. I believe in the awesome power of the family unit, and I believe in the joy and power of community. I have great respect for our military, and pride in the ideal of our nation and its constitution.

I also believe in social justice. That includes justice for BIPOC as well as LGBTQ+. I believe there is nothing more American than a person of color who has a platform using it and their freedom to peacefully elevate the importance of black lives. I believe in white privilege. I believe in the responsibility and duty we have to care for our planet. I believe in limited government, but also social and economic government support. I believe in a free market, but also in the economic concept of distributism. I believe in securing borders, but within a system that prioritizes human dignity above all.

There’s more, but that’s a snapshot.

Now that you know me a little better (remember: I won’t make assumptions about you if you don’t make them about me until one day when we can have a conversation face to face), let me tell you why I cannot vote for Donald Trump:

Firstly, I do believe in respecting the Office of the President and have often and regularly prayed for President Trump and his administration. But, in the last four years, I have also seen a President who openly and boldly—almost proudly—rejects the half of America that rejects him. As a self-proclaimed Christian, he does that. I could get into the metaphorical connections to Scripture in that, but I won’t.

A person, or a president, having strong convictions and standing upon them is an admirable thing. But standing upon the beaten and bloodied bodies of those who don’t share your convictions in spite of them, and with a smile on your face, is a conversely evil and antithetically un-American and un-Christian thing.

One might ask themselves why, on the eve of Election Day, the President is directing an effort to build an unscalable wall surrounding the White House and putting the National Guard on standby in major American cities. In such a situation, you or I might ponder our own decisions and the rhetoric we’ve used, and how those things might have helped to fuel such a divided spirit of unrest in the nation we were elected to lead.

One might also ponder the irony of a President who campaigned on a wall to keep immigrants out having to erect one around his own home for fear of civil unrest.

Make no mistake, President Trump was elected to lead America. All of it. Sadly, it seems he has been content to say what his supporters want to hear and actively rally them against the other half, and it’s downright scary from where I sit. The echo chamber that has resulted on both sides of the aisle is frightening and dangerous.

Thankfully, when I talk to you, I don’t see the level of extremism our political binaries would have you believe exists in great supply. I remain hopeful that I’m right about that.

To be clear, I am not advocating or condoning violence as a response to these things when I comment on them. But that is where we are. In America, thankfully, we still have peaceful avenues for the removal of a President. Your vote matters. I say these things as a man who also cannot support many of the things Joe Biden supports. But what I can hear from the Democratic Presidential Nominee, what I have indeed heard, is a voice largely of reason, and one that desires peace and unity for our great nation in the face of differing opinion. Those opinions matter, yes. But right now, unity matters more.

I cannot vote for a President who has made no effort, that I can see, to be a leader for the half of America that doesn’t approve of him. Instead, he’s now called his supporters to rise up against those who don’t. Those Americans. Your friends, your family, your neighbors.

Mr. President, my fellow Americans are not my enemy.

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