As a young, conservative Republican, this election has been very disappointing. Ever since Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump entered the race, he’s hijacked the conversation and kept the nation’s focus away from actual policies and proposals. As it is highly unlikely that Republicans like myself, who are unsatisfied with Trump, will vote for Hillary, a relatively large percentage of the American electorate is left without a candidate who accurately represents a significant proportion of their political opinions. 

Personally, I cannot support Trump due to his lack of firm policy positions. His absence of positive vision and knowledge of actual solutions don’t make him qualified to be president. Whether regarding trade, immigration, social issues, international policy or taxes, Trump understands neither the fundamental problems nor the potential solutions. He doesn’t recognize how to bring people together, how to lead a nation or how to conduct himself. Democratic presidential nominee Clinton, on the contrary, has the temperament, but not the policy, to be president. 

Thankfully, however, citizens have the opportunity to choose beyond the two major party candidates by writing in their candidate of choice. While chances for write-in candidates actually winning are next to nothing, fully exercising my right to vote as a person who represents my values and ideas gives me the opportunity to take a stand against both Trump and Clinton. A lot of people think exercising this right is a joke, but when the issues we are dealing with are this complex and serious, your ballot truly representing you is important. Writing in candidates can send a message to the country, to the parties and to the candidates.

That’s why, this year, I chose to write in Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R). Seemingly opposite of Trump, Ryan has the policy experience needed to proudly represent the Republican Party. His agenda of helping everybody — people of all races, religions and cultures — can move the Republican Party into the future. He doesn’t just understand the actual specifics of his policies; he also has the ability to explain these complex and specific policies to the masses. From his speeches to his social media campaigns and videos, Paul Ryan can communicate with a wide variety of people. He knows how to help those suffering and he knows how to bring people of all backgrounds together. Ryan’s way of communicating with the public is in stark contrast with the embarrassing methods of Trump. Ryan can diversify the party and make it proud, whereas Trump will do the exact opposite. 

What’s unique about Ryan is that his “A Better Way” package of ideas represents a comprehensive set of solutions for many of our nation’s problems. He lays out actual proposals on issues varying from poverty to national security to health care to the Constitution and sends a clear message through his solutions. Whether or not you agree with this vision or not, many candidates fail to provide their goals for America in the policies they propose. Paul Ryan is different; he is educated on the policy and can inspire people with his proposals.

Take, for example, his plans on poverty. He traveled around the country as a part of a documentary to get different perspectives on poverty in our nation today, so he knows what we need to do to get people to improve their socioeconomic situation. His prioritization of advancing the situation of the disadvantaged through conservative policy is what the Republican Party (and the country) needs.

He also knows how to communicate with those from all different backgrounds. In talking with those who typically hold different political views, Ryan’s outreach demonstrates a prioritization of country over politics. He truly cares about the lives of all people. In fact, that’s what separates Ryan. His compassion, humility and simple upbringing may sound stereotypical of any politician, but Paul Ryan is truly the opposite of a Washington elite. His willingness to unite people is what separates him.

This election year is the first time I am able to vote in a presidential election, and I — along with many — do not support either major candidate. I’ve chosen to write in the speaker of the House. While I know he won’t win, I know that he represents the Republican Party many people like myself aspire for. My vote for Ryan is a vote for Republicans of the likes of Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley and Ronald Reagan. 

Having the opportunity to write in my own candidate allows me to truly vote with my conscience. It’s a vote against Hillary’s corruption and Trump’s lack of intelligence. It allows me to vote for the party I hope to be a part of rather than the party that exists this year. It’s a vote for true Conservatives who propose meaningful and hopeful policies. 

Max Rysztak can be reached at mrysztak@umich.edu.

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