My journey into public service began nearly 35 years ago, when as a child in grade school, I witnessed Ronald Reagan speak boldly about opposing the Soviet Union.
Until his words were uttered, I generally felt threatened by the communist bloc versus empowered by the reality that the United States, although peace loving, possessed a matchless military capability that could ensure the safety of the free world. I thereafter dreamt of becoming one of the voices that could instill public confidence in the capacity of government servants to influence our nation and the world for good.
On Aug. 2, 1990, only 23 days after I enlisted in the United States Army, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Along with the invasion and subsequent U.S. response (Desert Shield) once again came a sense of fear that the United States was somehow fatally threatened by these events and would be immeasurably challenged by a war in the Middle East.
As a newly minted soldier, it was the confidence of President George H. W. Bush that allayed this fear. As Ronald Reagan had done years earlier, President Bush’s diplomatic efforts and overpowering military actions assured me that the U. S. could be an unrivaled force for good in the world. Thus, it was the strong and confident leadership of Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush that attached me to the GOP.
I recognized that the Republican Party was lacking minority representation, particularly among African Americans. Even still, the lure of an organization that projected American resolve and strength commanded my attention and loyalty in a way that smothered notions of race and politics.
Some posit that African African Americans should discount entirely the GOP as an organization resistant to our presence. This logic however is flawed, as it would have precluded both Barack Obama and Thurgood Marshall from becoming the first African American President and U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Both men sought place in institutions that heretofore were hostile to African American service.
The African American has rightly demanded access to and unhindered opportunity in the American experience. As a person of color, and with access and unhindered opportunity, I am simply enjoying the American experience by way of Republican politics.
Americans such as Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell inspire me to continue the African American tradition of partaking in every aspect of the American fabric, to include institutions where our presence was shallow or not well received. I believe that African American perspective and general representation should be found in every political party, including the GOP. This ensures that no matter which party is elected to power, African Americans and thus all Americans have a representative voice of influence.
Although my commitment to Republicans remains unshakeable, I confess to be far less than supportive of the GOP nominee for President, Donald J. Trump. Reflecting back to the early influences of my Republican life, Mr. Trump neither stands in the shadow of nor bears the spirit of presidents Reagan and Bush. The absolute lack of humility, dignified speech, acceptable public conduct, knowledge of public policy, and respect for all classes of Americans defines Mr. Trump as categorically not Republican. These same deficiencies make him hopelessly un-presidential. Although I remain resolutely committed to the Republican Party, I cannot disparage the example of model Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Bush by embracing this destroyer of the Republican brand for years to come.
Further aiding my distance from Mr. Trump is his assault on special Americans. Mocking war veteran and Sen. McCain’s captivity, gleefully imitating the plight of a disabled American reporter, and the verbal insults committed against women (Carly Fiorina and Megyn Kelly to name a few) are compelling reasons to dismiss Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Because I am a veteran, an American with disability, and a father of two young daughters, Mr. Trump has ensured that my reasons for not supporting him are personal, negating the need for any political analysis.
Having begun my journey in public service inspired by great American presidents, I continue on, hoping to prove that the idea of America is still relevant to the world, and that when rightly applied, our collective efforts can indeed be a force for good both nationally and internationally.