I used to be a republican. My journey away from the republican party began several years ago and was the result of the party changing in ways I believed ill-advised. It was also becoming evident to me the party was losing touch with what many would call a moral compass. The election of Donald J. Trump was the culmination of almost all of the reasons I left the republican party. It is my belief many have made this decision and many more will follow. The direct result of Trump and his morally bankrupt and incompetent administration. The excerpt from an article by John J. Pitney says what many are undoubtedly coming to grips with.
Until last year, I was as Republican as you could get. My family had belonged to the GOP since the 1850s, and both my grandfathers labored in local Republican politics. I started volunteering for the party nearly a half century ago, handing out Nixon pamphlets in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at the age of 13. I went on to work for Republican politicians in the New York State Legislature and both houses of Congress. And for a couple of years, I served in the research department of the Republican National Committee.
But early in the morning of Nov. 9, shortly after Trump claimed victory in the presidential election, I took out my laptop and changed my registration to independent.
From the start of the campaign, I knew that I could never vote for such a person. Trump is a mashup of all the sorriest parts of Republican history: Herbert Hoover’s trade policy, Warren Harding’s incompetence, Charles Lindbergh’s dictator worship, and Joseph McCarthy’s dishonesty. Still, until election night, I was hoping that that he would lose, and that the GOP could rebuild itself. This hope died as big states tipped into his column. It was painfully evident that the Trump brand would stick to the party for years.
And it really was painful. It has become commonplace to say that the parties are “tribal.” The term is apt. Especially for people who have worked in campaigns and government staffs, a party is a social network. Many of my friendships grew out of winning together and losing together in Republican politics. I still count these people as friends — and hope that the feeling is mutual — but the election cut an important connection.
I don’t disparage those who voted for Trump. Economic change has left millions of working Americans behind. They think that an increasingly affluent professional class pushes them around. Voting for Trump was a way to push back. I get it. My father was a milkman in a college town. It was full of people with advanced degrees who looked down on people like us.
Those words represented the Republican Party at its best. By nominating Donald Trump, the GOP chose its worst.
Of course, the GOP was not always at its best. During Watergate, Republicans learned about Nixon’s dark impulses and crimes. But as the scandal unfolded, key party figures declined to march in lockstep. Months before the “smoking gun” tape came to light, Sen. James Buckley of New York called for Nixon’s resignation. He wrote: “Inevitably the president is the focus, the essence of the crisis of the regime; the linchpin of its entire structure. It could not be otherwise. The character of a regime always reflects and expresses the character of its leader.”
Republicans don’t talk that way anymore. As Trump’s presidency confirms some of the worst fears of his critics, most party leaders are either defending him or expressing vague concern without holding him to account. House Speaker Paul Ryan backed the firing of FBI Director James Comey. In response to the news that Trump had spilled secrets to the Russians, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell merely called for “a little less drama.”
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