Why I Just Quit the Republican Party

by Daniel Pipes
Philadelphia Inquirer

The Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for president of the United States – and I responded ending my 44-year GOP membership.

Here’s why I by bailed, quit, and jumped ship:

First, Trump’s boorish, selfish, puerile, and repulsive character, combined with his prideful ignorance, his off-the-cuff policy making, and his neo-fascistic tendencies make him the most divisive and scary of any serious presidential candidate in American history. He is precisely “the man the founders feared” in Peter Wehner‘s memorable phrase. I want to be no part of this.

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What a real conservative looks like: Margaret Thatcher with the author, 1996.

Second, his flip-flopping on the issues (“everything is negotiable“) means that, as president, he has the mandate to do any damn thing he wants. This unprecedented and terrifying prospect could mean suing unfriendly reporters or bulldozing a recalcitrant Congress. It could also mean martial law. Count me out.

Third, with honorable exceptions, I wish to distance myself from a Republican Party establishment that made its peace with Trump to the point that it unfairly repressed elements at the national convention in Cleveland that still tried to resist his nomination. Yes, politicians and donors must focus on immediately issues (Supreme Court justice appointments) but party leaders like GOP committee chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrongly acquiesced to Trump. As columnist Michael Gerson wryly notes, Trump “attacked the Republican establishment as low-energy, cowering weaklings. Now Republican leaders are lining up to surrender to him – like low-energy, cowering weaklings.”

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Fourth, the conservative movement, to which I belong, has developed since the 1950s into a major intellectual force. It did so by building on several key ideas (limited government, a moral order, and a foreign policy reflecting American interests and values). But the cultural abyss and constitutional nightmare of a Trump presidency will likely destroy this delicate creation. Ironically, although a Hillary Clinton presidency threatens bad Supreme Court justices, it leaves the conservative movement intact.

Finally, Trump is “an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard” in the words of Republican donor Michael K. Vlock. That charming list of qualities means supporting Trump translates into never again being able to criticize a Democrat on the basis of character. Or, in personal terms: how can one look at oneself in the mirror?

And so, with Trump’s formal nomination, I bailed.

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For the Republican Party to recover its soul, Trump needs to be thumped in November. Purged of his influence, the party of Lincoln and Reagan can rebuild.

In the meantime, I shall support other Republican candidates, notably Pennsylvania’s excellent Senator Pat Toomey. As for president? Either the libertarian Gary Johnson, a write-in candidate, or no one at all.

Blowback from Criticizing Trump

I published a short article today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Why I Just Quit the Republican Party,” which detailed the reasons for my wanting nothing to do with its presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

Not surprisingly, I received an earful in respond – several hundred notes within hours, running about 3-to-1 against my views. Trump enthusiasts are nothing if not voluble and vehement.

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A sample of the responses, mostly negative.

Focusing on the negative responses, I note with interest that hardly a soul defended Trump from my five-part indictment. In almost every case, the answer to me was Hillary, Hillary, and Billary. Some critics accused me of effectively supporting her (the logic of which baffles me), many raised the imminent Supreme Court appointments, and nearly every one asserted that Trump is the lesser of two evils.

To which I reply:

  • #NeverTrumpNorHillary. I have repeatedly used this hashtag over the past month. Can I be more clear that I do not support Hillary Clinton?
  • I am reconciled to the inevitability of a terrible president being elected this November and am looking beyond this problem. That means focusing on Congress, the governorships, and the state legislatures, as well as building a strong conservative movement.
  • Concern about Supreme Court justices should translate into giving money to and working for maintenance of the Republican majority in the Senate, rather than counting on a mercurial Trump (who has suggested that his very liberal sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, would make a “phenomenal” judge).
  • Trump’s ignorant, wild-man comments put the country at risk. Just today, for example, he undermined 67 years of the NATO alliance by stating “If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, … Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself’.”

For these reasons, the prospect of Hillary does not scare me into voting for Trump. (July 21, 2016)

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Happy times: Donald, Hillary, and Bill.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes), has served in five presidential administrations. © 2016 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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