How moving to Ala. took me from ‘right-wing nut job’ to ‘Republican in name only’

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I know a woman’s not supposed to reveal her age, but at 37 I’ve been in and around the political process for about 15 years now. The first several years were mainly observational and administrative. From there I was able to get a real feel of things on the campaign trail, as a lobbyist, and then with various non-profit issue advocacy organizations. These groups are where I found my passion in grassroots advocacy. This included speaking to groups large and small all around the nation about what’s going on from the local to the federal levels.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a handful of incredible elected officials and with hundreds of passionate grassroots advocates. I was honored to be a part of the true Tea Party movement when it first began. I attended rallies. I waved signs and banners. I took too many bus rides, to both state and national capitols, to count. I’ve worked  two election cycles as a field rep for the National Rifle Association’s campaign arm, NRA-ILA, electing Second Amendment supporters, and two Koch-backed groups including the largest grassroots organization in the country, American’s for Prosperity, as well for 60 Plus Association.
With a resume like that you can only imagine the names I’ve been called personally and on a whole for the company I keep and the things I believe. From “right-wing nut job” to “Tea Party crazy,” I’ve heard it all. Nearly every time I write an opinion column liberal or progressive commenters have a fit about how conservative I am sometimes I’m even too conservative for republicans or libertarians.

For those who don’t know me well and have never seen me in person, know that I have a full color Republican elephant tattooed on my foot. True story. I was young and it was ridiculous, but it’s there and it is what it is.

So it’s funny to me (that is more ironic funny, than ‘haha’ funny) that since moving to Alabama and speaking out against the status quo here — simply pressing for answers and better behavior from those who most Republicans in the state never dare question — I have had my allegiance to the true conservative principles, to which I’ve dedicated my life, questioned.

I’ve suddenly found myself being called a RINO or Republican in name only in whisper campaigns and in comments and conversations others have had with friends and acquaintances. It seems to be happening more often these days as well so let me set the record straight about who I really am: I’m a pro-life Catholic. I’m a mother. I’m a second amendment supporter. I’m a small business owner. I’m a fiscal conservative. I’m libertarian on most social issues (including legalization of marijuana and getting the government out of the marriage business). I believe in school choice including vouchers and charter schools. I believe less government is always preferable to the alternative. I think we should sunset most laws so they have to be revisited and not just stay on the books indefinitely. I don’t support term limits in congress – we have elections for that. I think business licensing is usually a way for the government to get money not protect consumers. I believe that the goodness of people and churches could and should fulfill most of the safety net programs that the government pays for. I want secure borders and our immigration system to be fixed to improve the process for qualified individuals. I believe in criminal justice reform but I also support the death penalty.

Here’s what seems to upset the establishment republicans here in AL: I want accountability and transparency from our elected officials all of them, regardless of party. The fact is, everyone should.

I started ticking-off the establishment when I first spoke out against then Speaker Mike Hubbard during his tenure and trial. Lately it’s only gotten worse as I’ve spotlighted my concerns with staff and transparency in Governor Kay Ivey’s office. (Still wondering why they can’t/won’t just provide a list of gubernatorial appointees like Robert Bentley’s office did within hours. Mind boggling I tell you. Can someone please get her a new Communications Director who understands how to do their job?)
I’ve really been hard on John Cooper over at ALDOT for his lack of transparency and accountability in how his department has handled a bridge down in Baldwin County. I ticked-off a member of our congressional delegation when his staff tried to get me not to run a valid story decrying it as “Fake News” because they didn’t want it reported on and I both ran the story then wrote an op-ed about the ridiculous use of “Fake News” to decry news stories a subject doesn’t like. I could go on and on about the ways in which I’ve shown myself to be a traitor to the Party, but you get the point.
Never mind that I’ve also called attention to the severe problems with policies like the minimum wage increase Birmingham City passed, have wondered out loud about the status of the city as a sanctuary or friendly city, I’ve questioned the fact Mayor Randall Woodfin needs to focus on crime not magazine covers, and  that Mayor William Bell before him was wasting a lot of money on his personal security detail. I’ve pointed out Walt Maddox doesn’t stand a chance in the governor’s race.
Regardless of party and and position we need to be questioning those who represent us. Our responsibilities as active citizens doesn’t end when we vote or go to the polls. We have to do more. We have to follow what our elected officials and their staff are doing and follow them more closely than how they present themselves on social media or in press releases we have to question more than the talking points they or their staff give us.
Donald Trump is a great example of the type of Republican that leaves someone like me scratching their heads. There have many moments, both in his campaign and as the President, where he has done or said something absolutely cringe-worthy and I’ve objected publicly. His tweets avg about a 75% rate of asking myself what he was thinking vs. being proud he’s our nations leader.
On the other hand, he’s had an incredibly tenure in terms of accomplishing things that conservatives believe in from his tax cuts to his Supreme Court nominees he has delivered. Not to mention his agency heads who on a day-to-day basis  are rolling-back burdensome Obama-era regulations.
We all need to be reminded from time to time: being principled about issues. It doesn’t mean blind loyalty to the party or to the people at the top. This is me reminding you if you haven’t considered lately that we need to put our nation and our states before our party. Every. Single. Time.
Let’s ask questions together, let’s demand answers together. Let’s shake things up.
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