Leslie Murillo is a political rarity. She’s black, Latina, a millennial, and a Republican. That combination of identities may seem incongruous given voting trends, but Murillo insists they’re not. In fact, Murillo has spent a great deal of time over the past few years explaining to family, friends, and others why she, a young woman of color, feels at home in the Grand Old Party. Those conversations are getting a lot harder this year.
“In the Trump days it’s been very difficult to say out loud that I’m a Republican,” says Murillo, a 31-year-old nurse based in Minnesota. “It has interfered with my identity as a black Republican, which was always challenged, always questioned. I can’t even blame the people who are making these insults [now]—I mean, look at who our candidate is."
Murillo has an admixture of beliefs that come together to put her outside of both major parties ideologically: She’s pro-choice, anti-welfare, pro-Black Lives Matter, and against the Affordable Care Act. It’s a set of positions she says she evolved into. Driven by a sense of duty and possibility, Murillo says she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and watched his inauguration with so much gratitude that she wept. During Obama’s first term, however, she began studying the principles of Democrats and Republicans and thinking deeply about her own values. The more she learned about the conservative tenets of small government, individual freedom and personal responsibility, the more she realized that she was a Republican.
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