Far too often, “Conservative” and “Republican” are thought to be synonymous. However, if your views lean to the right, you are not confined to the Republican Party. In fact, the majority of voters in California choose to decline any political party, even if they hold beliefs mirroring those of the Democrats or Republicans. I believe California is a special case. Though we live in a state that votes reliably Democratic for the presidency, I believe we have a very strong Conservative base, which chooses to remain non-partisan. Many like me abstain from partisan ties for several reasons. Some do so because of a growing disdain for political parties, while others do it to prevent the endless amount of fliers pumped through the mail directly to their door. Personally, I remain unattached to a party so I may have the freedom to vote in whichever primary I choose, come Super Tuesday.

The Republican Party has seen fit for part of my freedom to choose which primary I vote in to be removed. This week, the California Republican Party made a stunning choice: Only registered Republicans may vote in their primary this Feb. 5. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the party believes it will safeguard California’s nomination for the Republican candidate by eliminating the entire Independent population as a possible base of support. The reason being, California holds a disproportionately high number of Independent voters in a number of counties. The California Republican Party believes these voters could rally together to sabotage the Republican primary by voting for an unelectable second place candidate, thus throwing off the Republican’s chances at the presidency.

To say the least, I find this news outrageous. California has a strong history, much like the New England states, of being socially liberal while remaining staunchly fiscally conservative. The California Republican Party has completely ignored this strong following, allowing them only to vote for the Democrats or other third party candidates. As a member of this large group of Conservatives, I am at a loss.

This decision to silence the voice of conservative Independents within our state will have resounding effects come Feb. 5, and even on Election Day in November. California conservative Independents will not forget how the Republican Party shunned their support. Their lack of trust in us will only result in our distrust of them and contribute to the growing disillusionment many have felt toward the major political parties. The Republican Party of California has sealed California’s fate as a blue state for many years to come. As much as it pains me to say it, I foresee California’s conservative wing of the Independent voters swinging toward less popular third parties. Feb. 5 is going to see a large influx of Independent primary-goers looking for a way to make their Conservative voices heard, and this may be the only way they will be able to do so.

The idea that a large group of Independent voters might somehow find a way to ban together to sabotage the Republican primary is ludicrous. The Democrats have no fear of exposing themselves to the same possibility and will welcome the Independent voters with open arms if they choose to vote that way. What’s more, it’s unclear to me what will stop these “suicide voters” from simply re-registering with the Republican Party and still sabotaging the primary. In addition, I find it hard to believe a select few districts with a high number of Independents could possibly deliver the election to a candidate who does not win in other states. It would take a lot more than a few rogue districts to give someone the presidential nomination.

So now what are conservative Independents like me to do? Our alternatives sound very unappealing, and there is no telling where our votes will end up. What I do know is Independent California voters – especially those who are conservative – will not forget how the California Republican Party left us this cold January. Abandoned, alone, with no viable Conservative candidate to give our support to. We know when we are not wanted. This just means we’ll take our 2.3 million votes where they’ll be appreciated.