The Tea Party, with intolerance on social issues, turned off many

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At one point I could have been considered the future of the Republican Party. My first election of voting age was in 1996. I voted for Bob Dole and voted GOP in every election after, until 2012. I always have been fiscally conservative but am rather liberal on social issues. Despite this I always used to see the GOP as the "lesser of two evils" and the best chance for limited government. I have come to realize, though, that individual liberty is just as important as economic liberty.

Since 2010 I no longer have been able to look the other way on social issues and civil liberties. While many in the GOP have always been socially conservative, the Tea Party took it further to the right on social issues (not the initial Tea Party, which was mainly a fiscal movement, but the one hijacked by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum). I can no longer support candidates who are so steadfast in using legislative means to force their religious and moral views on the rest of us. If the GOP doesn't find a way to become more socially tolerant, it will die off. Younger voters, minorities and women don't see a place for themselves in such a party.

This election I proudly voted for the candidate whom I agreed with on most issues, whom I felt would do the best job -- the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. As John Quincy Adams said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

KIRK HOWARD
Penn Hills


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