I am one of the left-behind Republicans. I am a Christian and grew up thinking that voting Republican was the only option for people like me. Opposing abortion was all-important, followed closely by the value of integrity. In the years when I grew up, freedom at home was guaranteed but we desired freedom for those abroad, as well. America could be a shining light to the nations: an exemplar of what happens when faith, integrity, and the genius of the principles enshrined in the Constitution combine to ensure righteousness and justice for all. People around the world wanted to be like Americans, and it was more than a desire for Coca-Cola and Levi’s. Those were just the symbols, the top layers representing a deeper set of values. America was great because she was good.
In the Republican party of my youth, the Constitution was a near-sacred document. We were the party who pounded it, memorized parts of it, stood up for it. I have taught it to my kids, just as my parents talked about it with me: in hushed tones and with reverence. We talked about the Founding Fathers like our Olympus: a Pantheon of brilliant, far-seeing men. They were imperfect but aspired to values like honesty and selflessness. The media was the valued fourth estate, speaking truth to power and bringing our nation back into line after deviations and ethical lapses like Watergate. They were part of our compass, returning us back to the true north of national uprightness. Back to, as President Lincoln, the founder of my party said, “...the better angels of our nature.”
I joined the military and pledged to give my life for my country if called upon. I had no doubt that the leaders above me would have done the same. While politicians weren’t perfect, I didn’t ever suspect one of them of bad faith. They had different ideas about governance, but there’s room for that in our great country.
When Donald Trump was elected president, I wondered what had happened to my party. He was filthy, the opposite of everything that I was taught to strive for. His name was on strip clubs in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He openly bragged about taking sexual advantage of women. As a boy, I looked up in reverence to the men who stood on stage at the Promise Keepers conventions, preaching about living with integrity. They talked about being unselfish, sacrificing yourself for others, keeping promises at all costs. To see a president so out of sync with these values was jarring. Weren’t we the Moral Majority? The people for whom free markets were our highest economic value and righteous leadership was our highest qualification for governance? How were we supporting someone who seemed so disconnected from our values? Someone who seemed to regard free markets as anathema instead of an ideal? Weirdly, this businessman didn’t seem to understand how trade worked.
When I moved to Devin Nunes’ district I was proud to be represented by him. He was a farmer, one of the salt-of-the-earth people I could trust to carry out my commonsense Republican values. His influence grew and his family stopped farming in California, but I was proud to see him listed on Time’s Most Influential 40-Under-40 list of politicians to watch. He said then that the Founding Fathers were his political heroes, and I applauded. I voted for him in every election.
But Devin Nunes’s behavior became bizarre and erratic after President Trump’s election. His ardent support for this amoral man betrayed the values that we hold as Republicans and as Christians. He seemed to entirely discard the Constitution, with its brilliant ideas about checks and balances. He seemed to be possessed, serving a new master who neither knew about nor cared about the value of integrity or the ideas that Nunes’ former heroes Madison and Jefferson enshrined in our founding documents. When he followed President Trump into attacks on the free press, I saw the once-valued fourth estate under attack. Those who aspire to integrity encourage the accountability of the press. Those with something to hide attack it. The fact that The Fresno Bee has endorsed Devin Nunes in every previous election made his perfidy all the more distasteful.
Voting for Andrew Janz is the only conscionable alternative left for me. Andrew is a prosecutor who works to take violent criminals off the street. He’s a good man, one who cares about the people he serves. His ethic of selflessness embodies the values I grew up with. He dedicates himself to securing our safety in the same way I once worked to secure our freedom. I don’t agree with all of his policy preferences, but my vote has to be about securing the future of our country. When he’s elected and we’ve had a chance to come to our collective senses, I may well join the fight against him in the future. But for now, I’m voting for Andrew Janz to ensure that we have a future.
Andrew Shinn is a business professor at Fresno Pacific University. He lives in Reedley.