My question is, what took so long?
I’m a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsically into the very fabric of my being.
Today, however, I am a registered Republican no longer.
I came to the decision to leave the GOP not with a heavy heart, but with a broken one.
I reached this point through a long series of awakenings and realizations- a path marked by literally years of wrestling with, and finally accepting, the political implications of a number of difficult truths. It involved ever-increasing levels of cognitive dissonance, as I tried to square my experiences, concerns, and knowledge, with my continued loyalty to the GOP.
As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies.
In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.
Republican economic policies are also indefensible. The GOP constantly claims that its opponents are engaged in “class warfare,” but this is an exercise in projection. In Republican proposals, the wealthy win, and the rest of us lose- one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget to see that.
Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity. Leaving is also a public act of personal protest. I am under no illusions about its broader significance- it will have no impact on the trajectory of the political narrative in this nation. But that does not make it futile. On the contrary, as the shadows lengthen, such minor individual acts of defiance and dissent are more critical now than ever before.
Perhaps, one day, a reformed and responsible Republican Party will reemerge.
But until then, the GOP and I have reached a parting of the ways. In the poignant words of “Kathleen Mavourneen,” an old Irish ballad: “It may be for years, and it may be forever”
The move by the Republican Party to the dark side is not a recent one. It has been a steady march to the hard right since Reagan’s time in office, although it must be said that it has sped up exponentially with the election of Barack Obama. That said, my thinking is that while skin color plays some part in the right’s politics of lunacy during the last four years (e.g. birtherism), I’m not sure it would be all that different if Hillary had won in 2008. A look at the last thirty years of Republican
evolution devolution indicates that no matter which Democrat won in the last election, the GOP and their media minions were primed and ready to forgo their last shred of integrity and go for an all out assault on anything and everything that blocked their way to power. And it goes without saying that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United made that job much easier.
It is not likely that the Republican Party will come to their senses at any time soon, if ever. The right’s indoctrination process has been a successful one which is why any attempt at reasonable, fact-based debate with most conservatives is, for the most part, an exercise in futility. They can’t hear you.
They really can’t hear you.