Farewell, GOP

 

Voter-RegistrationI joined the GOP when I turned 18, just weeks after Ronald Reagan’s re-election. Since I was unable to vote in that race, I accompanied one of my conservative friends to the polling place as a kind of silent vote. I had become a big Reagan fan in high school and began learning more about conservatism through Goldwater, various books on the Cold War, and National Review. (That made me quite the hit with the ladies, as you might imagine.)

These early studies of policy, patriotism, and civic virtue led me to enlist in the US Navy and, once I got to college, challenge my ex-hippie professors. For years I voted along party lines, donated to Republican candidates, and volunteered for their campaigns. I was proud to belong to the party of Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, and, of course, Ronaldus Magnus. Even when Bush Sr. raised taxes, some GOP congressman floated bizarre conspiracy theories about Clinton, and Tom DeLay’s House spent us into oblivion, I still identified with the party’s higher ideals. Limited government. Peace through strength. Personal freedom.

Nominees like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were all way down on my list of preferred primary candidates. (Both Bushes were as well, come to think of it.) But considering the odious Democrats running against them, I voted for the half-a-loaf GOP standard bearer.

But today, after an acrimonious intraparty trench war, I see the GOP as defined less by Reagan and more by Trump. Obviously, a large number of his voters agree. I don’t need to bore you with a catalog of Trump’s personal and policy failures. What’s most distasteful is his contempt for the history and underlying structures of our republic. Ignoring the Constitution while promising easy fixes by a strongman. The majoritarian rule of the “democratic” mob. The base appeals to tribalism.

So the night of the Indiana primary, when Ted Cruz suspended his campaign and Trump’s nomination gained nearly unstoppable momentum, I wondered if the GOP represented me any longer. I obviously was out-of-step with the plurality of its voters and directly opposed to the party’s new leader. I considered waiting until Trump’s nomination was official at the convention, but figured that would merely add two months to the grieving process. Why draw out the disappointment when I could just pull off the Band-Aid and get it over with?

One person changing his party affiliation will make few if any waves among the cubicles at the RNC. But if thousands made a similar decision, I figured it would send a message to Reince Priebus, et al. Maybe over the next month, we’ll see how the party rolls changed.

So, as of Tuesday, May 3, I am an independent voter. I no longer feel the need to champion the GOP’s myriad flawed candidates or spin their horrible decisions once elected. And, although it was rather sad to leave the party of my youth, it’s liberating not to be burdened with their metric ton of bad decisions.

Has anyone else here left the GOP and, if so, why?

There are 135 comments.

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  1. Rick Beideman Inactive

    Not yet

    • #1
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:09 PM PDT
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  2. BrentB67 Inactive

    Welcome into the light.

    From reading your post I think the party left you a while back.

    We can and will do better.

    • #2
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:09 PM PDT
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  3. Kozak Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Has anyone else here left the GOP and, if so, why?

    I campaigned for Goldwater as a child growing up in Chicago. We were the only family on the block to support him. I was a Young American for Nixon. My first vote was for Ford in 76.

    I left the GOP officially in 2006. I couldn’t take anymore of the Immigration push, the Harriet Meyers nomination, and the venom that John McCain spewed at conservatives. I’ve been officially an independent since then. I will be voting for Trump, because I believe Hillary must be stopped, at any cost.

    • #3
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:11 PM PDT
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  4. Arsenal Thatcher

    Yes. The night after Indiana I registered as a Libertarian in California.

    • #4
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:13 PM PDT
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  5. A-plus-plus Inactive

    I’ve been mulling a departure…If Ryan’s ousted as convention chair, I’m out. Of course, if Ryan comes out of the Thursday meeting and endorses Trump, I wouldn’t know what to do…My two best moments of this cycle have been the NRO issue and Ryan’s recent “not yet” statement. I’ve sadly come to realize that that places me in alignment with about 2 percent of the electorate :(

    • #5
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:13 PM PDT
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  6. Douglas Inactive

    I left the GOP in 2013 because I decided they were a bunch of hacks who had no intention whatsoever of doing what they claimed they’d do. That they were, in effect, a giant fundraising scam. It went a long way towards my disillusion with and eventual divorce from what most of you call “conservatism”.

    • #6
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:16 PM PDT
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  7. Lucy Pevensie Inactive

    I have been tempted to do the same thing, but here in NC, with Pat McCrory as governor standing up to the federal government right now, I don’t think it’s the right gesture for me to make.

    My gesture has been to write to Paul Ryan to urge him to continue to stand firm. You can do so as well at this site

    • #7
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:17 PM PDT
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  8. Basil Fawlty Member

    The Commonwealth of Virginia denies its citizens the formal opportunity to do so.

    • #8
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:18 PM PDT
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  9. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    Really, party registration only matters for primaries. I thought for a bit my vote might matter in the primary this year. But no. I might not bother to change my registration (go through with the surgery, if you will), but I no longer identify as a Republican.

    • #9
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:19 PM PDT
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  10. Hammer, The Member

    I’d love to, but I never officially joined.

    This will mark the first election where I don’t vote Republican, though.

    • #10
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:21 PM PDT
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  11. Marlowe Inactive

    We do need a national liberty oriented party, the GOP is not that party.

    • #11
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:23 PM PDT
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  12. Hammer, The Member

    Douglas:I left the GOP in 2013 because I decided they were a bunch of hacks who had no intention whatsoever of doing what they claimed they’d do. That they were, in effect, a giant fundraising scam. It went a long way towards my disillusion with and eventual divorce from what most of you call “conservatism”.

    Maybe you will find that conservatism is not necessarily what you thought it was, and that it really is worth preserving. Seems worth a shot.

    • #12
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:24 PM PDT
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  13. Creepy Cat Guy Member

    I’m still a Republican for another 4 weeks or so, until after NJ votes on June 7. I’ve been looking forward to voting against him for too long and I’ll do so even if the other 85% of the state is on the other side.

    On June 8 or 9th, depending on when I get the paperwork in, I’ll be an independent for the first time in my life.

    • #13
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:26 PM PDT
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  14. John Walker Contributor

    I used to live in the U.S. Got better.

    In 1980, I registered as a Republican in order to vote for Ronald Reagan in the California primary. From that moment on, I was bombarded by direct mail solicitations which insulted even my modest intelligence by their manipulativeness. To put an end to this, in 1982, I changed my registration to independent. The trash continued to arrive in the mailbox.

    In 1991, I left the U.S. I’ll bet that the Republican “surveys” and “urgent action notices” continue to pollute the mailbox of whoever was stupid enough to buy my house.

    • #14
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:26 PM PDT
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  15. Valerie Rhodes Inactive

    No. I’m not a quitter. I’ll stick it out with Trump and take my chances that we can keep him in check. I have no doubt that SCOTUS will be safer in his hands.

    Trump is 1 man and 1 man will not forever damage the GOP. His presidency should we be fortunate enough to defeat HRC has an end date. The GOP does not. Whatever the outcome it will be a learning opportunity . Paul Ryan is the person who I want to see leading us into the future.

    • #15
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:28 PM PDT
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  16. James Jones Member

    Until June 7 when California votes, then I’m out.

    • #16
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:30 PM PDT
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  17. Dave Carter Contributor

    I left during George W’s time in office when, even with a majority in Congress, the GOP’s link with the Constitution became so tenuous as to be nonexistent. I thought of leaving the party back when George H.W. Bush’s lips collapsed, but hung in there longer than I should have.

    • #17
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:31 PM PDT
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  18. Publius Inactive

    I actually left the GOP during the Gingrich era after I realized that I had been taken for a sucker by the 1994 “Revolution”. Once they worked their way through the Contract items, they basically got down to the business of expanding the size and scope of government, but slower. My memory is fuzzy, but I think the last straw was that first transportation bill they cranked out that was my moment of truth.

    Like Jon, I voted for every singular presidential candidate that the GOP offered up as an independent voter even though they always conflicted with my classically liberal world view in substantial ways. I agonized whether I’d bring myself to vote for candidates like McCain, but #NeverTrump was an easy call this time around.

    • #18
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:34 PM PDT
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  19. Joe P Member

    I’ve been out since 2008. I felt betrayed by Dubya over TARP, and I couldn’t vote for McCain. Held my nose for Romney but I didn’t feel particularly “Republican” anymore. Almost came back this time. Almost.

    • #19
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:34 PM PDT
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  20. Homer Member

    Agreed.

    I’ll cast my last vote as a Republican on June 7th, then I’m out. I respect the argument that we should fight from within the party to bring it back, but I think the party is too far gone, and fighting from within just sends the message that we’re not serious and can be kept in line.

    Nope. I’m out.

    • #20
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:36 PM PDT
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  21. Lily Bart Inactive

    I registered as “unaffiliated” in Colorado a few years ago out of frustration with the Republicans failure to stand for limited government and fiscal responsibility. My husband registered Libertarian at the same time. I’ve continued (mostly) to vote Republican, but have held great hope that they’d move back toward limited government principals. I support individual candidates with campaign donations, but have never since given to any organized Republican PAC or similar group. And, in the last election, I voted 3rd party rather than for my (R) representative with whom I’ve grown weary (he was re-elected without my vote). (added: I didn’t withhold my vote casually from my congressman. I actually met with the man and talked with him for a while – after which I was satisfied he was not a good representative of my interests.)

    One downside in states with closed primaries: unless you’re registered with the party, you cannot vote in the primaries and help shape the party’s nominee. So, we re-registed Republican this time around – it didn’t help. I’ll move back to the ‘unaffiliated’ category.

    • #21
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:41 PM PDT
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  22. Pilli Inactive

    I read Kozak’s comment above and thought it was mine! I actually voted for Nixon his first term. He disappointed me deeply with his Wage/Price Controls. Watergate, too. I bounced back with Reagan. I was GLAD to be a Republican! Then Bush 1. Not so good. Then Dole, ugh! Then “W”. No child-spend, spend, spend. Then McCain. Really? I held my nose voted for these guys anyway because…Democrats.

    McCain is the one who broke me. I decided the GOP couldn’t count on my vote any longer. I changed to Independent. The GOP really is the party of stupid. I may vote for Trump (still holding nose) because, Hillary. Not committed to that though. May leave that choice blank or vote for Gary Johnson.

    • #22
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:41 PM PDT
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  23. Lily Bart Inactive

    John Walker:I used to live in the U.S. Got better.

    In 1980, I registered as a Republican in order to vote for Ronald Reagan in the California primary. From that moment on, I was bombarded by direct mail solicitations which insulted even my modest intelligence by their manipulativeness. To put an end to this, in 1982, I changed my registration to independent. The trash continued to arrive in the mailbox.

    In 1991, I left the U.S. I’ll bet that the Republican “surveys” and “urgent action notices” continue to pollute the mailbox of whoever was stupid enough to buy my house.

    Now they send emails – it’s cheaper. You can ‘unsubscribe’ easily. Because I do donate, I get on everyone’s list (as no good deed goes unpunished.) In fact, I just ‘unsubscribed’ to a Donald Trump fundraising email today! Felt good.

    • #23
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:53 PM PDT
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  24. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    Might I offer something to those of you hating Trump and looking for a new Party? There is no doubt that the GOP hasn’t been the Party of Reagan since around 1989-just read Parliament of Whores. But it should also be of little doubt that the Democrat Party is now actively and openly engaged in destroying the country as founded. So I propose that we work to prevent Hillary from winning and then while Trump does what he is going to do, we register as Libertarians and start sending Libertarian House and Senate members to DC. We start electing them to State legislatures and in local governments. And build them into a viable, freedom loving national Party.

    • #24
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:54 PM PDT
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  25. BastiatJunior Member

    Lucy Pevensie:I have been tempted to do the same thing, but here in NC, with Pat McCrory as governor standing up to the federal government right now, I don’t think it’s the right gesture for me to make.

    My gesture has been to write to Paul Ryan to urge him to continue to stand firm. You can do so as well at this site

    Did that, too.

    • #25
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:55 PM PDT
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  26. Instugator Thatcher

    I am keeping my registration in the party – because we have closed primaries and I would like to have some say in my local races.

    But the GOPe don’t represent me.

    • #26
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:57 PM PDT
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  27. Lily Bart Inactive

    Robert McReynolds:Might I offer something to those of you hating Trump and looking for a new Party? There is no doubt that the GOP hasn’t been the Party of Reagan since around 1989-just read Parliament of Whores. But it should also be of little doubt that the Democrat Party is now actively and openly engaged in destroying the country as founded. So I propose that we work to prevent Hillary from winning and then while Trump does what he is going to do, we register as Libertarians and start sending Libertarian House and Senate members to DC. We start electing them to State legislatures and in local governments. And build them into a viable, freedom loving national Party.

    We do need a strategy for the future. My husband thinks we’ll never turn this around with(out) educating the people around us on the Constitution and limited government. The people seem to have forgotten about liberty and why it’s to be preferred. They won’t like the future we’re headed for, but won’t even understand how we got there.

    • #27
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:58 PM PDT
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  28. T-Fiks Member

    I’m not sure what message it would send to the GOP, whoever they are, if people leave the party. Those Republicans in visible positions might assume that those jumping ship resent their foot-dragging about Trump–or everybody scurrying might, like John Gabriel, be unhappy about the GOP’s timid response to the left. Lots of people are sending messages these days, but they’re pretty muddled.

    People like Paul Ryan are getting pushed from multiple directions. I prefer not to send a message if half the recipients interpret it one way and the other half interpret in a diametrically opposite way.

    I’m hoping we get a responsible leader who can articulate the conservative message and unify large numbers of liberty-loving people. Maybe I’m dreaming.

    • #28
    • May 9, 2016, at 4:58 PM PDT
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  29. Douglas Inactive

    RyanM:

    Maybe you will find that conservatism is not necessarily what you thought it was, and that it really is worth preserving. Seems worth a shot.

    I’m quite aware of what it was. I just stopped believing in it. It was a years-long process, spurred in part by reading the histories of Angl0-American conservatism, from the old English Tories all the way up to the present. I’d argue now that what we’ve called conservatism since Goldwater isn’t really all that conservative. But that’s a completely different subject unto itself, certainly a different post topic, and I don’t want to hijack Jon’s thread. So let’s leave it at that for now.

    • #29
    • May 9, 2016, at 5:00 PM PDT
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  30. BastiatJunior Member

    I understand the feelings of all those who are checking out.

    But I would prefer that the good people stay and the bad people leave.

    Guess I’m naive.

    • #30
    • May 9, 2016, at 5:02 PM PDT
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