Good-bye GOP, I hardly know ye



I served on the staff of two Republican presidents, one Republican Cabinet member and four Republican National chairmen, as a Republican myself. Today, I quit the Republican Party and registered as an Independent (technically, “unenrolled” as the call it in Massachusetts).

Why? Donald Trump may think he’s attracting more to the Republican Party but he also is pushing many from the party. I also question how many of his crossover voters in the primaries are actually registering with the GOP — I’m guessing not many. He claims to be expanding the party. He’s not but there are millions of voters drawn to him. He is a candidate of convenience for them. A candidate with whom to place their anger and their hopes.

And the GOP is a party of convenience for him. He is saying it would be nice if the party were unified behind him, but he says that isn’t necessary for him to win. Then why did you seek its nomination? The GOP for him is not unlike how he has treated women through his life — use them and lose them and, in his rhetoric, abuse them. Just as he’s doing to the GOP.

Trump is a false prophet. He will not — cannot — keep the promises he’s making. As soon as he became the presumptive nominee, he began breaking those promises — backing off his own tax plan, backing off self-funding his campaign, backing off his opposition to Super PACs (because now he has one) and backing off his opposition to a rise in the minimum wage. And that was just one day last week. He can do that without paying a price, apparently, because his supporters believe he “tells it like it is.” Doesn’t matter if what he told you yesterday is the direct opposite of what he is saying today and who knows what he’ll say tomorrow?

As Catherine Rampell said in the Washington Post — Trump is the most politician-y politician out there. He says what some want to hear, and then says the opposite the next day. I cannot be a member of a party whose presumed nominee is ignorant of the Constitution, doesn’t study the issues, picks on opponents based on their size, their personality — anything but their positions on policy or their vast more experience than he has to be president. He will not all of a sudden become presidential — it’s not in the head of a narcissist to change who he is.

Trump is unfit to be president.

He says he admires Putin and the Chinese Politburo but he has disdain for those who have preceded him as the party’s presidential nominee. He promises to use the presidency against businesses who dare to leave our borders. He will start a trade war rather than do the hard work of negotiating with our trading partners and explaining how trade works to his constituents. He threatens his opponents, encourages his supporters to physically hurt his detractors. A key supporter and friend of his threatened anyone who opposes him at the convention with revealing their room numbers so Trump’s vigilantes can pay them a visit. He threatens party donors, the press, and the speaker of the house, anyone who dares speak against him or, as he puts it, “be nice to me.”

He wants to roll back the First Amendment so he can go after reporters he doesn’t like. He says he wants to restructure the country’s debt; negotiate with our debt-holders for a lower interest rate, just as he has done with his many businesses — run up the debt, then run out on the debt. In other words destroy the full faith and credit reputation of America that has existed since Alexander Hamilton’s days. And, by the way, the result would be to destroy the U.S. and the world’s economy. But, fear not, tomorrow he’ll ignore what he said last week. Making him the most inconsistent, lying candidate in our history — and that’s quite a ladder to climb.

He’s not the only reason I left the party but he is the catalyst. The after-Trump — win or lose — won’t be pretty.

If he wins, we will have a president whose word you cannot trust because he flip flops from beginning of a speech to the end of the same speech. If he loses, the GOP returns to a battle of the righest-wing people against more reasonable people. And the rightist- wing people will feel even more emboldened to keep this country from any progress because, once again, they will argue that the party lost because it didn’t nominate a “true conservative” which, in their minds, is defined as someone who wants to stop progress in this country or push the country backwards rather than find middle ground with their political opponents. I’ve had it with that gridlock and insanity. (And that’s not to let the Democrats off the hook.)

Despite my many years of working for the party and its elected officials, no one will lament my leaving the party. In fact, few will even notice. But I didn’t quit to be noticed. I quit because I like to think I have some integrity and I have beliefs in a set of principles (not entirely conservative principles) that have been abandoned by the Republican Party. I didn’t have to agree with the party all of the time but I want to agree with it some of the time. I can’t agree with Trumpism or be a Trumpet, or whatever the cute name is that hides the true, ugly views of this man.

I have huge respect for George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and others for saying they will not endorse Trump. I also have great respect for Paul Ryan for withholding support for Trump, something Trump apparently sees not as an issue to try to fix but as another opportunity to say, I’ll meet with him, but maybe he shouldn’t chair the convention either. That’s the fellow who calls himself a “uniter.”

I can’t say who I’ll vote for yet. Part of me says that it has to be Hillary because a vote for anyone else is a vote against Trump, but no one but the Democrat can beat him. So a vote for a third party is basically a vote for Hillary. I’d rather she have the nuclear codes in her hands than Trump having them. And voting seems to be often to choose the lesser of evils, and the evils are huge in this election. But that’s a decision for another day.

I am grateful and proud of all the work I did while in politics and government. Each person I worked for I was proud to work for. I spoke my mind when I didn’t agree with things and was always heard, if not agreed with. I worked with many people I have deep respect for.

I, as many like me, have endured insults from those who think that everyone in the party thinks alike and believes the same things. A pox on those people for being ignorant and not understanding that each major party includes people who believe different things. As one former boss put it, a “big tent” that could have under it many views.

Just because I was a registered Republican doesn’t mean I was anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-gay marriage and a bigot, I don’t “hate” because of someone’s ethnicity or religious beliefs or sexual orientation. I do believe in small government, in a strong defense, especially in these uncertain times; and I believe in keeping taxes low. I’ve always been an economic conservative but more liberal on social issues. Folks like me still exist but we are a dying breed — we do not live on the extremes of the political spectrum but in the middle, where the real life and challenges of the American people exist.

But I do reject the party’s constant march to the far right and I do reject the embrace I’m witnessing of Donald Trump, a despicable human being and the most unqualified person a major party ever nominated to be president.

Most importantly, I couldn’t look my grandchildren in the eye and say I tried to leave them a better world by being a member of a party that would nominate Donald Trump.

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog:

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