In just a bit less than a month, I will resign from the Grand Old Party. And it's not because of Donald Trump.
I’ve tried. Lord, how I’ve tried. I held my breath when W. won his second circuit of the oval. I choked back gasps of sorrow and amazement when McCain chose an illiterate, geographically challenged accidental politician as a running mate. I watched Romney magic away decades of moderation in order to get his shot at the brass ring, and then sat amazed as Marco Rubio failed even the London bookmakers (who had him as the odds-on favorite) even as our own press re-cast him as a moderate. And then, when it seemed nearly all was lost, the party mainstream found itself hoping and praying that a hard-line, xenophobic, theological nutcase would somehow manage to cruise in and save what little was left of the party. (And during all this time I watched good men like Jon Huntsman and John Kasich fall like red-shirted Star Trek ensigns do, well before the first commercial break.)
And so we’re left with a misogynistic, racist, hateful neo-fascist as the titular head of it all. The. Grand. Old. Party.
I don’t think so.
But as I said, Trump’s not the reason I’m leaving. He’s the result of the problem, not the problem itself. Here’s the list of those who have sent me overboard while the ship sinks: Paul Ryan; Mitch McConnell; Kelly Ayotte; Chris Christie; Rudy Giuliani; Reince Priebus…
And any other Republican that refuses to acknowledge their own creation and to repudiate him, to admit that four years of Hilary Clinton is far better than four days of Donald Trump, that it’s time to really take stock of the party’s position and messaging and to fight back, finally, for responsible conservatism.
(And yes, I do believe that “responsible conservatism” doesn’t have to be the oxymoron it’s become.)
These former public servants have for years morphed into party servants, but must now finally, cleanly, and irrevocably disavow a man who flaunts the Constitution, degrades honorable military heroes, mortifyingly taunts the poor, disabled, and disaffected…and doubles down on all of it, every day, more and more and more.
How do you NOT disavow what’s been going on? Even the few of you who have stayed out of the public discourse—Rice, Powell, Bush—how do you sleep at night? Is the White House more important than the country itself?
Not long ago Jon Stewart popped up to take over Stephen Colbert’s Late Show desk (quite literally: Stewart had been under the desk during the opening parts of the bit), and for a bit more than 10 minutes or so went off on the GOP and their mouthpieces (we’re talking to you, “Lumpy” Hannity), describing the circus-worthy contortions so many were going through to find any way, any way at all, to suggest that maybe Trump wasn’t that bad, was even a good (!) choice. Despite the misogynistic, racist, hateful neo-fascist behavior that daily lampooned across our media landscape. When you watch the bit, the oh-so-reasonable brief evisceration, you can see, quite clearly, what has happened.
And so I can’t any longer wear the badge. Tarnished as it’s become, I’ve worn it with relative pride for a great number of years in the hopes that somehow, somewhere, somewhen my fondly remembered Grand Old Party would remember where it came from. But it’s apparently not to be. And so I’m out. Almost.
So why am I waiting, you may reasonably ask?
On the 5th of August I went to the internet for instructions on how to drop my party affiliation. My town’s website told me that I needed to come to the town offices, so off I went. It’s only a few miles from where I live, and comfortably housed in the town’s historic district just down the road from a lovely church and an excellent library. I pulled in to the small parking lot, shut off the engine, and marched myself up the few steps to the entranceway. Just across the lobby were two small windows and behind each, teller-like, were administrators from the town clerk’s office. Standing at the right window was an elderly woman looking to register her car and at the left a middle-aged man apologizing for having waiting so long to get his dachshund licensed. The dog licenser finished up first, and I quickly stepped forward.
“I’d like to change my party affiliation to ‘Independent’,” I said.
“You can’t do that until September.”
I didn’t know why, and didn’t ask. The words, spoken with the casual bureaucratic finality so common to meaningless rules, floated Kafka-like from her to me, where they simply rested. I turned and left.
For just a moment I thought that perhaps there was still enough time for a miracle, enough time for something to happen that would offer me the tiniest shred of redemptive hope. Perhaps Paul Ryan would finally come to his senses and endorse the Johnson/Weld ticket, as so many other moderate GOP’ers were starting to do. Or W. himself would avoid the fence-sitting and publicly confess that he doesn’t believe Trump is fit for the office. Or maybe even (and this is a long-shot here, folks) Chris Christie would suddenly come to his senses, admit that he’d basically spent the last six months in some sort of fugue state, and take back every weasely worded bit of support he’d ever uttered.
But no. It’s too late. I’m out.
Or I will be. Very soon.