CRISTINA OSMENA: How I became politically homeless

When I was a Republican, it was for a reason that was very important to me. I thought the party had a deeper understanding of freedom than what I saw in liberal California. There were other perks like lower taxes and fiscal restraint. But it was the preeminence of the individual that appealed to me. Two of the offshoots of this was being able to have an opinion that differed from consensus and being able to speak against those in power.

This is why it puzzled me that the party that has been so vocal about free speech removed Liz Cheney from her leadership role in the Republican party. For those of you who have not been following this news, Liz Cheney is a Republican Congresswoman from Wisconsin. For the past two years until a week ago, she was the Chair of the House Republican Conference, the third highest-ranking leadership position among Republicans. Cheney was replaced with Elise Stefanik because she had been outspoken about former President Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol as well as her disbelief in the thesis that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

I found this move to oust Cheney problematic on many levels. First, I agree with her stances that 1) Trump was at least partially responsible for what happened on January 6, 2021 and that 2) Trump’s election loss was legitimate. Obviously, if someone has been removed from leadership for having these beliefs, I have to assume that the party in its current form is not one that agrees with my beliefs. Second, if criticizing Trump is a punishable offense, it means he is still pulling strings within the power structure of the party. Watching Donald Trump reemerge onto the political stage is something I would rather not do. But if I have to watch it, I would prefer to do it from afar.

Third, I experience a visceral revulsion when I see attempts to silence outspoken individuals. I understand that it happens all the time. I always hate it when it happens. Given that most of my childhood was spent living with the effects of my family’s vocal opposition to Marcos, I hope those who find my position extreme, especially those reading this paper, will excuse me. I was under the impression that the Republican party welcome all those who valued freedom, even if their views differed from the mainstream party. Their treatment of Liz Cheney has caused me to revisit my assumptions of what this party represents and also what it represents to me personally.

I don’t think I have changed much politically. I believe in a strong defense of the integrity of our nation and rational governance that does not overreach. I think Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents and he is still one of the fathers of the party. I also understand that a party can change. And, while we were busy watching Netflix and avoiding human contact for the last 14 months, there may have been a lot of activity behind closed doors of disenfranchised politicians that do not represent me. So, I have deregistered as a Republican. This political homelessness feels like a fit.

Finally, I don’t think the Left-Right discourse that dominates political discussions is really a good representation of what is important…at least for me. I think the major issue domestically is the disparity between rich and poor (internationally, it is the rise of China). The wealth gap is so severe and so distasteful that it has reached crisis levels. Both parties attempt to tout solutions to this issue. Both parties claim this issue as their own. Neither one has done enough to address it. The Democrats have too many uber-wealthy that they have to protect. And the Republicans, well, I don’t know what their excuse is. I am not sure if the conservative-liberal debate addresse the wealth gap effectively at all. In fact, I think both parties have exacerbated this problem. I look forward to criticizing both sides equally.