I've been political from an early age. I have followed politics from junior high, though looking back I had only a superficial understanding of the issues. Which is why I was a Republican. I fell for the Ronald Reagan Kool Aid. That said, our country was in a malaise, and then-President Carter was too much of a micro-manager to get us out. Reagan spoke with lofty ideas, that felt good at the time.
My family was always more socially-moderate, so I didn't really identify with that part of the Republican agenda, but I could understand fiscal conservatism. When I was finally able to vote, I still considered myself a Republican, but felt that I would vote for the right person. In those early years, most of my votes went to moderate Republicans. I remember one Republican candidate, I think he was up for a state representative post, gave me a bad feeling. All his literature had him with pictures of Reagan, and Bush Sr., and other prominent Republicans. There was little meat to his materials. I voted for a Democrat, someone who'd never held office, over that Republican. The Republican won, but a couple of years later had to step down over sexual harassment claims. Ultimately, my bad feeling was proven right.
I went off to college in the late 80s. I voted George H. W. Bush into office, but was uneasy about it. I wish Dukakis had been a better candidate. I felt Bush would skew much more moderate that Reagan. I suppose he was an improvement, but not enough.
What finally did it was Gov. Pete Wilson, a moderate Republican mayor of San Diego, who became much more conservative after he was elected governor. Though he'd previously indicated an openess to supporting workplace and housing protections for lgbt, he vetoed several measures. I was disgusted. Moderates in the Republican party were dead. The party had sold its soul to the Religious Right. I'm pretty sure Wilson was the last Republican I voted for.
I'm open to voting for a Republican in the future. I did not vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor, I wasn't living in California at the time when he was up for election. If Wilson had been the kind of Republican Arnold is, perhaps I would have stayed in the party a bit longer. That said, I doubt I'll be voting for Arnold when he's up for reelection.
The Republicans have to throw off the Religious Right if it ever wants to get my vote in the future. And, needless to say, they have been a complete failure at fiscal conservatism, too.