Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Source: Flickr (Michael Vadon).

Editor’s Note: Tikkun does not any endorse any political candidate.

I was raised in the Illinois heartland and grew-up during the Nixon years. My credo is simple: Human life should be valued, government should intervene in our lives as little as possible, and all persons should be treated with dignity and equality. I cherish free trade and a global marketplace, I believe everyone should have access to a basic standard of living that includes food, housing, education, and healthcare.I have a feeling many on the left share these beliefs and are shocked that someone who defines themselves as a conservative would have these ideas, but they are at the core of my identity as a conservative Republican.

Where I differ from my friends in the Democratic Party is in how to implement these ideas. I believe we have a personal responsibility to volunteer in our communities and to use what abilities we have to improve our world.Having worked in a government grant program, I witnessed the waste and misdirected resources that could have been more effectively used at the community level.I’ve dealt with people who believed they “owned” their government jobs or accumulated funding via rulemaking to strengthen their own job security and power over regulated businesses.I’ve been threatened by union bosses demanding greater power over businesses and governments. I’ve witnessed power brokering by party leaders in smoke-filled rooms.

So how does a conservative like me find herself questioning the Republican establishment? Because I’ve also been on the inside of watching a party I used to believe I had much in common with dismantled before my eyes.There was nothing I could personally do to disrupt the suddenly large numbers of “conservatives” overtake the agenda at local party meetings.There was nothing I could do to stop the huge wave of right wing social conservative talk radio personalities become the face of conservatism and the Republican Party.

My political party abandoned me.Though I have little in common with the extremist views of today’s Republican Party, I still don’t consider myself aligned with the Democratic Party.What is an anomaly like me supposed to do? Where do I cast my vote? Who do I trust with running what I still believe is a great country?

I’ve listened to this year’s slate of candidates with a heavy heart. I had high hopes for Jeb Bush when he first announced and was ready to jump on board.I admired the work he did to improve education and business as governor of Florida.But then he had no spirit to stand-up to the likes of Donald Trump, who I did not take seriously.

For many months I thought that, although I would never personally support Trump, he wouldn’t be the worst thing for our country.It’s okay to shake things up a bit. But as I have watched with dismay, especially this past weekend, I have come to feel it’s very important for people to end this flirtation with Trump.Encouraging violence and insults against religions and nationalities are the worst reflection of our country. Ronald Reagan spoke of our country as the “shining city on the hill,” and said that we should reflect all that is good in humanity. As a Jew, I also believe this is an important tenant of my tradition: to reflect all that is good in humanity to the world.We must together counter that dark shadow Donald Trump and his followers have cast on our great country and not allow it to overtake us.

As a registered Republican, my stomach was tied in knots over whom to cast my vote for in Florida’s closed primary.In the end, I voted for who I thought would have the best chance of taking away a win from Mr. Trump. The only hope at this point for Republicans is a contested convention. I am concerned at what that will mean for the upcoming general election. At the end of the day, I hope to have the opportunity to vote in November for a candidate who I can trust and believe has the best interests of this country at heart … even if I have differences in opinion on the policies to achieve these goals.

If worse comes to worst and Trump (or even Cruz) is the Republican nominee, I hope that Democrats will have the vision and will to nominate Bernie Sanders. I know it’s shocking, but I believe there are many other conservative Republicans like me out there who would vote for Sanders in the general election.

Why? My concern is that a Trump or Cruz presidency will not only completely dismantle what is left of the Republican party but will also generate a populist, chaotic rule of governance and foreign relations that would bring great harm to our nation. Despite its flaws and pendulum swings from right to left, the two-party system has on the whole kept our country balanced and stable. You want your ideas challenged from an informed but opposite point of view.

But why would a Republican vote for Sanders, not Clinton? Isn’t she more to the right and traditional?Here’s why I, and I think many like me, would never be able to cast a vote for Clinton even if she’s running against Trump or Cruz: I cannot trust her.

Bernie Sanders is the same person he’s been since he entered public life.You know what you are getting and though my political philosophies differ from his, he has demonstrated an openness and honest willingness to work with both sides of the aisle. Among the remaining candidates for President, I believe only Sanders (and possibly Kasich) possess the ability to bring our fractured nation back together.

It may be too late for the Republican Party at this point, so I will reach-out to my liberal friends and encourage them to support Sanders for the Democrat nominee.

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Margaret Shooshani was raised in Bloomington, Illinois and graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Applied Geography. Margaret worked as an urban planner in South Florida prior to her position representing the building industry on legislative issues. She has served as an elected representative to the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee and multiple school advisory councils as Chair. Currently, Margaret serves as Vice President of Channel Seafoods International.

 

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