Any number of well known, articulate conservative thinkers have made the case in the last two months for leaving the Republican Party or, in an appropriate nod of respect to a great Republican at such a time, the case why the Republican Party has left them. For most of them, the nomination of Donald J. Trump was sufficient. For me, that was not the tipping point. A party with bad candidates, even a bad candidate at the top of the ticket, is still worth saving if it is committed to the right principles, to timeless shared values. The GOP is not.
Candidates come and go, some good, some bad, some truly awful. The Republican Party has certainly had plenty of grotesque candidates. The last Republican nominee I could enthusiastically support, and even he had his major sins, was George W. Bush. I grudgingly supported John McCain, despite deep reservations. That was worth doing. McCain is, for his faults, a good man, a devoted public servant, and a genuine American hero. He also was often an articulate defender of conservative principles during that election. Mitt Romney was not a great candidate, but in the last six months has proven that he is a man of principle, perhaps more so than any Republican Presidential nominee since Reagan. As Ted Cruz put it, in one of the best speeches on basic conservative principles in recent memory, “We’re fighting not for one particular candidate, or one campaign, but because each of wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids, our own Caroline’s, that we did our best for their future and our country.”
So, the Trump nomination, while reason to potentially vote for a Democrat for President for the first time in my life, was not sufficient reason to give up on the Party I’ve called home for almost thirty years. His utter ignorance of how government works, aside from spreading bribes to get what you want, left open the hope that he would hire from the ranks of conservative, Republican policy experts. The realistic worst case scenario was that even a Republican Congress would balk at rubber stamping his totalitarian notions. With the overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters voting against Trump, it seemed that the GOP would not enthusiastically adopt the brand of this combination of Wesley Mouch and Buzz Windrip. But they did.
When confronted with the idea that “Freedom matters,” the GOP booed. When confronted with the idea that “Our nation is exceptional because it was built on the five most beautiful and powerful words in the English language, ‘I want to be free,'” the GOP booed. When told that, “We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values,” the GOP booed. When asked to commit to the American people to “defend freedom, and be faithful to the Constitution,” the GOP booed. A bad candidate, even a string of them, is not the end. Cheering for a bad candidate is often part of politics. Jeering the principles we supposedly share, is not. It is proof that the Party has left me.
I am no longer a Republican.