Looking Back on My Resignation from the GOP

Three years ago today I submitted my resignation to my local GOP organization. I had been a precinct committeeman for the past decade in suburban Chicago, volunteering on state and local campaigns. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Republican politics in Illinois had been a breath of fresh air after moving from Houston, where the party was a rogues’ gallery of cranks, grifters and racists. That all ended here with the grifters taking full control at the national level, cutting off any avenues of defensible support for the party.

Events of the past three years have only reinforced my decision to resign.

From the resignation letter I submitted:

Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.

I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”

An explanation of why I haven’t joined the Democratic Party and still probably won’t:

What Emanuel did in the Navy Pier case is what the Democratic Party does more generally in the places it dominates. Behind a veneer of populist concern, Democratic officials create legislation granting themselves paternalistic power over other people’s lives. They use that power to appoint their loyal clients as gatekeepers, doling out favors and permissions in a manner that promotes their influence. In a wider economy that is busy ridding itself of its burdensome middle-men, from the stock broker to the travel agent, Democratic politicians are the last dinosaurs in the forest.

And recently, using the Epstein Affair as a backdrop, a glimpse at the scale of our challenge, stretching beyond party labels, to clean up a dangerously corrupt, and increasingly unstable political system:

When Nancy Pelosi rolls her eyes at the naivete of the anti-Trump resistance, she’s not concealing any cold, cynical, 16-dimensional chess approach to fighting Trump. She doesn’t find Trump any more troubling than Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell ever did. If Donald Trump had run and won as a Democrat, she’s be doing exactly what Paul Ryan did for him. Pelosi and her class have already decamped to Moneyland. And if you find the Democrats’ ties to Moneyland troubling, you’re not ready for the briefest glance into the rollicking political brothel being run by Republicans.

These have been tough years for democracy. We have much work to do and few allies to share the load. We will prevail, but not likely in a peaceful fashion, and perhaps not soon. It’s going to be tough, but there’s no price too high to preserve representative government.

42 Comments

  1. My congressional rep (Dan Crenshaw) is an R, as are my senators (Cruz, Cornyn), so their views can be surmised.

    Me, my impeachment views are wishy-washy. I think he deserves to be impeached.

    But since impeachment is a political issue, not a legal issue, it seems a poor use of resources when the senate won’t act on it.

    And an impeached president doesn’t have to leave office. Impeachment is only a big deal to those who view tradition and political norms with seriousness. Does that sound like the current white house resident?

    I’d prefer the Ds keep investigation(s) into legal issues going with the hope that federal investigators will use them immediately after 45 leaves office. May he spend his vast, genius fortune on lawyers.

  2. Meantime, the tyrant was “interviewed” on his personal propaganda network, and stated that the Mueller investigation was “treason”. That was the word he used.

    But you folks keep on discussing how incompetent the Dem’s are (they are indeed incompetent cowards), and how to vote out the fascists. Sorry…..that ain’t going to cut it. For all the intelligent people here, and given the wealth of knowledge of political history, no one here is willing to state the obvious. A vanishingly tiny percentage of times that a country goes this far down the path of authoritarianism does it recover democracy without violence. Look at Brazil, Poland, and Hungary as your most recent examples of democracy wiped out. Great Britain’s ruling party just installed a man bent on destroying the country and the EU as the leader of Great Britain.

    The fascists also blocked measures to improve voting security the day after Mueller unequivocally stated the russians tampered in the election, which should be considered an act of war. But hey, have faith in that system, right?

    Chris, you are the historian. Can you make up a list of countries that had an authoritarian regime and then overthrew that regime peaceably, then compare that to the list that violence was needed to remove said regime?

  3. I have some good political news- my very underwhelming and underperforming Rep, Pete Olson, has decided to “spend more time with his family”, rather than run for re-election. This doesn’t make Sri Preston Kulkarni a shoe-in (and he’ll need to win the primary 1st), but it does help his chances of flipping the seat next year.

    TX-22 is a place where the influx of new people is increasing the diversity and eroding the gerrymandering. But it’s critical to also flip at least 9 TX House seats; then the GOP cannot undo the demographic changes with a new round of uncontested gerrymandering.

      1. I’ve spoken with Sri a few times. He is super, super smart, and also super, super decent. I’m on the campaign mailing list; I haven’t been active in the campaign this year, as last year was pretty draining for this introvert, but I’m psyching myself up for next year.

      2. I hear you about the introvert thing. While I’m not exactly an introvert, during my active career I feel I sometimes twisted myself into a pretzel in order to work with others. Now, all I really want to do is follow my artistic impulses. Then came 45.

        So that ended.

  4. Today Friedman says we need solutions from all sides. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/23/opinion/republican-democratic-parties.html)

    He seems not to realize that solutions offered by the left and the right are not of the same quality and do not have similar problem-solving motives.

    Trump’s budget wants to cut WIC, SNAP, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. — accompanied by racism and cruelty.

    The left offers no cuts to the existing safety net, higher minimum wages, better financial regulation of corporations, lower cost college, and a desire to combat climate change, which will certainly benefit everyone. including the right.

    Anyone who watches Sesame Street can tell you these two things are not the same. They’re not even in the same universe.

      1. Like it or not, compromise should generally be included in the initial attempts. “My way or the highway” usually leads to… well… what we have now.

        Right or wrong, I voted for Hillary Clinton in the Clinton/Obama primary because I felt Obama was going to have to be too centrist. Sure enough, his key promise for closing Gitmo was sacrificed to that alter.

        In my opinion, Obama was a great president. Other than the Gitmo situation and the overuse of drone strikes, I can’t think of anything I felt he handled badly. Even the drone strikes could be explained based on information I didn’t, and don’t, have access to.

        Obama used drones, Trump is opening threatening to nuke Afghanistan off the map. There is a lot of “centrist” room between these two extremes.

      2. Centrism fails as rhetoric and prevails as policy. Political figures like Obama and Carter who sell centrism become impotent, ineffective leaders. Leaders who build a brand around uncompromising policy positions like Nixon, Roosevelt and Reagan, grant themselves enough room to build centrist solutions.

        Nobody remembers that Reagan raised taxes 11 times, including a massive Social Security tax increase, invented amnesty for illegal aliens, did nothing whatsoever about abortion, appointed 2 pro-choice jurists to the Supreme Court, and launched the world’s first cap and trade program for pollution control. He built a brand around fighting big government and supporting conservative causes which gave him enough popular cover for pragmatic compromise on the ground.

        It should also be remembered that Obama won a staggering victory in 2008, even carrying Indiana, when he was running on the most extreme leftist platform in the past century. As it became clear that he had neither the spine nor the desire to fight, that support melted away. He didn’t compromise, he just quit in apparent bafflement at the resistance he’d inspired.

        Democrats’ enthusiasm for centrism is a lingering legacy of 1984, when they saw their entire modern program comprehensively rejected by the public. They remain convinced that they can only promote their agenda around the edges, while lying to the public about their true sentiments. That generation needs to yield some power.

      3. I saw Obama’s backing off of Gitmo as just another “easy to say on the campaign trail, and then you learn how complicated it really is”. I agree with Chris that Obama failed to put up as much fight as he could have and should have. A big reason I’m still an Indy, and not officially a Dem (even though I’ll be caucusing with them for the foreseeable future) is that they are often so bloody wussy!!

      4. Flypusher,

        Can you give a specific example where Obama failed to do something he should have.

        I remind you that ACA was a big accomplishment that wasn’t easy to push through. As I recall, expanding medicare was discussed and, rightfully, recognized as a big step towards “medicare for all”. Considering that the ACA is just squeaking through, I think Obama and the democrats made the right call.

        Dealing with the recession recovery, IRAQ war, IRAN nuclear deal and Osama Bin Laden were biggies too.

        Sorry, I just don’t understand Chris’ accusation about “lying to the public about their true sentiments” and your Obama “should have” been more aggressive. What is more important, looking macho or accomplishing good things?

        I see as good news that over 50% rejected Trump in 2016 and that trend continues today.

      5. EJ

        In a world where Joe Arpaio was running concentration camps before Trump took office, and where the Chicago police department are documented as operating “black site” torture chambers in Obama’s own home town, I think it is short-memoried to say that there are no occasions where hObama failed to act.

        The current activities of ICE didn’t come from nowhere. Like a child acting out, they experimented, and they found that nobody objected, and they grew confident. Obama allowed that to happen. While he can fairly claim that he didn’t understand where it was going, he cannot claim that he was powerless to do something about it.

      6. I think you are both trying to take advantage of 20/20 hindsight.

        Trying to deal with the Russian Interference was an inherently tricky situation. As we have witnessed the Republican’s spin machine would have swamped the narrative with claims that Obama was the one interfering with the election to help Hillary win. The safer bet was to hope Trump would self destruct and then we could sanely deal with the situation under a Hillary Administration. I’ll remind you that Trump didn’t win a landside. Quite the opposite. Chances are if it wasn’t for the last minute Comey surprise, Hillary would have won.

        One of the reasons Joe Arpaio was so well known is because, during most of the Obama’s administration, the news was about him fighting the US Department of Justice or claiming Obama wasn’t born in the USA.

        What did you want, Obama taking to Twitter every morning dressed up as Rambo?

        And, yes, I think your critique of policing the immigration police is also 20/20 hind sight. Obama was having enough trouble policing police killing blacks.

      7. Obama did what he could in the atmosphere he was dealing with and staying in and respecting the constitution. Trump does not respect the power and oversight the constitution provides for, nor do the Republicans who took the oath to uphold.

      8. @dfcord:

        I remind you that ACA was a big accomplishment that wasn’t easy to push through. As I recall, expanding medicare was discussed and, rightfully, recognized as a big step towards “medicare for all”. Considering that the ACA is just squeaking through, I think Obama and the democrats made the right call.

        If President Obama and the Dems hadn’t taken their sweet time in letting Republicans drag the process out, it’s very likely they could’ve had a compromise bill that included a public option and, perhaps, considerably more assistance for people before Sen. Kennedy died and they lost their supermajority.

        Trying to deal with the Russian Interference was an inherently tricky situation. As we have witnessed the Republican’s spin machine would have swamped the narrative with claims that Obama was the one interfering with the election to help Hillary win. The safer bet was to hope Trump would self destruct and then we could sanely deal with the situation under a Hillary Administration. I’ll remind you that Trump didn’t win a landside. Quite the opposite. Chances are if it wasn’t for the last minute Comey surprise, Hillary would have won.

        The “safer option”? Why not just come out and call it what it was: cowardice.

        You don’t give a self-serving jackass like Mitch McConnell veto power when it comes to foreign interference in our election. You take the fight to him with everything you’ve got and rip his political ass to shreds. Power is the only thing he understands, and the worst thing you could do is to surrender it before you’ve even done anything.

      9. @Ryan:

        I think Obama did what he thought was best and did it with good intentions.

        I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this.

        Better yet, you could do what takes to become president and show us all how it is done.

      10. “I think you are both trying to take advantage of 20/20 hindsight.”

        There was no opportunity to look at the 2016 Russian Interference any other way.

        “Trying to deal with the Russian Interference was an inherently tricky situation. As we have witnessed the Republican’s spin machine would have swamped the narrative with claims that Obama was the one interfering with the election to help Hillary win.”

        I totally acknowledge that this was the proverbial being between a rock and a hard place. Obama was going to catch some kind of heat no matter which he chose. But the better choice is still the one where the country gets warned of the danger while there is still time to do something about it. And I concur with Ryan on McConnell; he had shown himself as a hypocritical partisan asshat many times over, and Obama should have literally told him to go fuck himself. Even better had it been in public.

      11. >] “@Ryan:

        I think Obama did what he thought was best and did it with good intentions.

        I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this.

        Better yet, you could do what takes to become president and show us all how it is done.

        With all respect, spare me your whining. No one’s trying to knock Obama given the dire circumstances he inherited and what he still managed to accomplish. However, that doesn’t mean shutting one’s eyes and pretending that he was somehow better than he was. You can have all the good intentions in the world and they don’t amount to s*** if you can’t hack it when the time comes.

        For all his brilliance and successes, Barack Obama just doesn’t like to fight. And in an ideal world, that wouldn’t but a problem – but when it came to the scorched-earth politics of Mitch McConnell and Republicans, it cost him and the country dearly in no small number of ways. We need to learn from that and pick a nominee that isn’t afraid to grab McConnell by the political throat and do what needs to be done.

      12. Ok Ryan,

        How about if we move on from Obama’s woulda, coulda, shoulda analysis and talk about the future?

        I started out with tepid support for Biden’s bid, I am now getting turned off by his centrist attitude.

        I have generally liked Elizabeth Warren since 2010. I hadn’t realized she used to be a republican until recently. I am getting over my previous “electability” bias of her.

        Which candidates our you looking at?

      13. I’ve not commented much lately, but this discussion on centrism hits my button.

        Basically, I do think Obama was a good President. The 110th Congress from 2009-2011 was the most productive Congress we have had in many years, possibly since the 1995-1997 Congress under LBJ. Regardless, that productivity ended when the R’s gained control of the House in 2011. FDR had similar problems with Congress when he lost his overwhelming advantage and effective control in 1943. That being said I believe if Obama had been more of a fighter and a street smart politician he might not have lost control of the House in 2010 and could have gotten more through Congress.

        Regarding centrism as a policy, I basically concur with Chris. The Democrats do need to be firmer, more effective fighters and completely overhaul their messaging from the DNC down. They do need to take some strong progressive positions, stand behind them and support them. Though compromise will ultimately be required, DO NOT BROADCAST THAT THE PARTY WILL CAVE. Trump often ultimately caves but he makes a lot of threats and noise even though his positions cannot be supported logically. He ultimately caves, but claims victory. The Dems need to adopt a fighter’s attitude, more suited to the progressive agenda. The great progressive presidents were all fighters.

        In 2016, I did support Hillary, even though i concurred with Sanders in most areas. My rationale was because Hillary was less extreme she would more likely have been able to accomplish some progressive actions despite the current extreme environment. The 2016 election and the following nightmare have thoroughly cured me of that illusion. This election I will select a candidate that is progressive, will stand behind their message and will not stop fighting. I am also looking for a candidate that has significant charisma and can engender a lot of support in the public. Additionally, I prefer a candidate that is younger and has not necessarily been on the national stage for more than 10-15 years. The two, at which I am looking most closely are Harris and Warren. Harris because she is a fighter, she is progressive, will not tolerate any BS from Trump, and I believe has considerable charisma and is capable of generating a wave of public support. Furthermore, she is from CA and I am from another lefty state on the Left Coast, WA. I like Warren because of her policy thoroughness and willingness to listen to people. She is also a fighter. In my conversations with various people (given they are fellow members of my bubble), I perceive that she is beginning to pick up a lot of support, far more than Sanders ever did in 2016. Accordingly, her stock is rising in my estimation. Currently, I am making equal and small monthly donations to both. I’ll probably make my decision around the time of the WA presidential primary on March 10, 2020. At that time, I expect to cancel one donation and transfer the funds to the other.

      14. I’m leaning towards Warren at the moment, tbh. I like Harris, but she’s far and away a better prosecutor than she is a politician. She doesn’t have either the killer instinct (see Biden, Joe) or the long-term campaign strategy needed to duke it out with Trump in 2020.

        Warren’s proven herself a lot stronger than I’d have given her credit for. She’s still got a ways to go with the African-American community, but as long as she works her way up and proves she’s going to sweat blood and tears getting every vote she can to the polls, I’ll vote for her in the primary.

  5. Maybe the answer for someone who was invested in the Republican party, is to quit thinking in terms of parties. I’ve tried to redefine the divisions in the US in my mind. It seems to me there is a segment that have given up on reality, which I guess is a definition of insanity. And then there is everyone else.

    We have to be on the side of reality which probably means supporting the political party that is more sane. If only until we can claw back power long enough to bring about proportional voting. At least long enough to get rid of the gangsters in the White House.

    1. unarmed,

      Agreed. Ideally, we all should not be invested in either party.

      Mary,

      I did a little research on this. I found that…
      While unions. in general, tended to be racist in the ’60s and ’70s, teacher’s unions had a mixed record depending on whether or not they were fighting local community control.

      So I concede teacher’s unions were unique. However, I argue that the general population was less concerned with the “common good” than they are now.

      The Vietnam War was indefensible to anyone but the “Anerica First” crown. You probably remember all the “America, love it or leave it” bumper stickers. Despite the clear evidence of corruption and lies, 60% of American re-elected Nixon.

      https://images.app.goo.gl/APmBLujvnrPXbYxF7

  6. Never was a GOP’er. Despite the problems in the Democratic Party, at least the stated goals were noble.
    The GOP doesn’t want to serve anyone but the rich, and will do anything and everything to destroy the government and the American dream for anyone else.
    There are far too few of those who can recognise the problem and start to do something about it.
    Once the GOP has lost power (and they will before too long), they won’t get it back without a massive reorg, both structurally and ideologically.

  7. The saddest thing about your resignation letter is that there are far too few similar ones. The GOP is 100% dead to me. They will never again get a vote from me, nor will I listen to anything they have to say. A future sane center-right party? Sure, they’d be worth my attention. But the Trump stench is never coming off the GOP.

  8. For the most part, I stopped voting Republican after Reagan, but remained registered R until 2 years ago. I thought maybe by voting in primaries for a moderate republican, the party could change. That certainly did not work out:-)!
    That said, for a lot of reasons I am not happy with Democrats. But there is a basic difference, at least in my aged mind, between the two parties. The Democrats are basically for equal rights, for helping those with less! The Republicans are for increasing their power, for helping the wealthy. Republicans as a party, the entire bunch of them, do not give the rear end of a rodent about the environment, the deficit or, for that matter, the truth! Their tax policies are abysmal! Anyone who thinks the rich pay too much in taxes should read up on the Panama Papers! (Full disclosure, i spent my adult life as a tax accountant. I know how much the rich pay! Not all that much!)
    Just my opinion but this mess the GOP has gotten us into will last a long time and be the downfall of this country. Just look at where Great Britain is now. It is virtually ungovernable!
    Russia must be very happy with the return they are getting on a very small investment!

      1. Sorry Mary,

        But just like Trump’s “Make America Great Again”, I have to ask when did this magical time of caring for others happen?

        It was my personal experience to be surrounded by union-card-carrying Democrats who derided all non-whites as unamerican, lazy people. They also felt Vietnam war protesters deserved to be jailed and/or shot. This included the Kent State protesters who died.

        While I am intrigued by the idea of a Warren presidency, it isn’t because she is on the “right” team.

      2. I’m 75 and have lived through decades in which America was a kinder nation. My exposure to unions had been limited but positive. (Teacher unions). I have witnessed our nation coming together for the common good. To be clear, I have also seen ugliness but throughout time our democratic institutions and norms held. There were more good people than bad. Today they are on life support.

  9. Question for you folks. When the tyrant re-ups in 18 months for at least another 4 years, and will have zero political restrictions holding him back, what do you think will happen? And for those that think an election will stop him and his cadre, I am sure I can provide you a list of so-called “fair elections” held across the planet that have maybe not been so fair.

    The only thing stopping the tyrant is old age, a bad diet, or the option that no one wants to discuss.

  10. I think your problem is that you want politics to be leading society to a better place. In reality the people go where they want to go, and politics follows at some distance.

    Political “leadership” is all about making money above some level. It’s the same with corporations, bureaucracies, any large organization really. People who go into politics are some of the worst in society, and you will be forever an outsider there because you don’t appear to have a cluster B personality disorder.

    If you want to change the world, be the change in a small, authentic, grassroots role. Twitter changed politics, for good and bad, more than any consultant or advisor. That is an extreme example though, while most will effect local, demonstrable change and probably get zero credit from anyone except those they directly help.

    Do you want to help, or do you want to get the credit for helping?

  11. Sad that some statements continue to be relevant indefinitely.

    I have never felt Democrats were without blame. History tells us that. The difference between the to parties is the extreme to which they will go to achieve they goals. Maybe I am not being harsh enough in my criticism of the democratic leadership, but their perfidies appear more singular in focus than republicans whose skill and deceit have a far broader reach. I cannot recall any other place in political history that one party has been so openly derelict nor transparent in their selfish motives and exposed democracy to such danger.

    I don’t think I am alone in my fear.

    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/17/how-trojan-horse-project-rewrite-our-constitution-could-actually-happen-if-trump?fbclid=IwAR0BTOr6dlsD-qLMracQVJRhtncMcH5iQ_1aFh85UOj23OJC5iL52YmIICM

  12. Chris,

    Thank you for this post.

    I have several conservative friends whose opinions I respect. You a quickly becoming part of this group.

    While we may differ in our biases and general impulses, we agree that our primary focus needs to be understanding “objective reality”.

    1. I’d like to do an informal poll here. I’m happy to say I know my Representative supports impeachment inquiry. How about everyone else?

      On a related note, the way I see it, one of two basic things have to happen for us to get movement on impeachment. Either the Dem caucus pushes the Speaker or a new Speaker pulls the caucus. Chris, who do you think would be a good replacement for Pelosi?

      1. My Representative, Pramela Jayapal, WA 7th CD, does.

        Personally, after much soul searching I have concluded that Trump should be impeached even though I know that the Senate will not convict. I feel that he has committed impeachable offenses and that the process of impeachment will put the issue front and center for the American people. More importantly it will force all Senators to vote rather than hiding behind McConnell and the Orange One. The process of voting will clarify the issue. On Friday Pelosi and Nadler stated that they are essentially in the preliminary stages of impeachment without actually calling it an impeachment investigation.

        I will make a post in ‘Off Topic’ on Sunday or Monday describing my thought processes. I need to make some minor revisions due to the Mueller Testimony, but otherwise I have drafted it.

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