It’s no surprise that the Republican party is shrinking.
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Between the demographic changes that bring a larger number of younger and ethnically diverse people to the pool of eligible voters and the disillusionment of that disappearing breed of moderate Republican who made up the never-Trump faction of the party, the GOP is hemorrhaging its membership under President Trump like never before.
Peter Wehner, a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine, is one of the many people who defected from the party after its transformation by the ascendance of Donald Trump as its usurpative leader.
He explained the many reasons for his abandonment of the party that provided him with gainful employment through the administrations of both of the Bush presidencies in a revealing essay in the Atlantic this week entitled “What I’ve Gained by Leaving the Republican Party.”
After establishing his his GOP bona fides, Wehner explains what attracted him to the Republican party of yore:
“I saw in the Republican Party a commitment to human freedom, democratic capitalism, and a traditional social order; to upward mobility through self-reliance; to the dignity of work; to the cultivation of character and respect for the Constitution; and to a foreign policy that placed a high priority on human rights, a strong national defense, and American leadership. Republicans argued for limited government, economic growth, and free trade. The party respected the role of religion in public life and envisioned America as a welcoming society to immigrants and the unborn,” Wehner writes.
Acknowledging that no political party is unblemished by the type of “deeply flawed individuals” that have been known to besmirch the GOP, Wehner credits the rise of Donald Trump for his alienation from the political organization he once so admired.
He laments Trump’s domination of the GOP because “from the moment he announced his run for the presidency, I believed that Trump was intellectually, temperamentally, and psychologically unfit to be president.”
Wehner’s disdain for the president goes back even further than the beginning of his presidential campaign, however. He quotes an op-ed that he wrote for the notoriously conservative Wall Street Journal as far back as 2011 attacking Trump for his birtherism claims against Obama.
“‘From time to time, people emerge who are peddlers of paranoia and who violate unwritten codes that are vital to a self-governing society,’ I wrote, adding, ‘They delight in making our public discourse more childish and freakish, focusing attention on absurdities rather than substantive issues, and stirring up mistrust among citizens. When they do, those they claim to represent should speak out forcefully against them,’” Wehner warned preciently.
Unfortunately, rather than speak out against Trump, the Republican party gave him their presidential candidacy nod and Wehner savages both Trump and the GOP for driving him away from his formerly treasured home.
His article contains jeremiads against Trump that one would expect only from the most fervent opponents of the president on the progressive side of the political spectrum. Take this delectable description of Trump that would fit right in on the pages of any left-leaning publication:
“Trump has shown himself to be a pathological liar engaged in an all-out assault on objective facts—on reality and truth—concepts on which self-government depends. The president is also cruel, and dehumanizes his opponents. He’s volatile and emotionally unstable. He relishes dividing Americans along racial and ethnic lines. He crashes through norms like a drunk driver crashes through guardrails. And he’s corrupt from stem to stern.”
it’s difficult to admit that one heartily agrees with a former member of the Republican establishment, but in this case Trump seems to have inspired the ex-Bush insider to finally see the light.
Despite Wehner clearly seeing the evil mess that the modern GOP has devolved into, he remains “philosophically conservative” and declares himself “politically homeless” with the Democrats now embracing positions further to the left as the Republicans flirt with the extreme right.
While he hopes that someday the GOP will once again return to the values he cherishes, Wehner acknowledges that leaving the Republican bubble has restored clarity to his perceptions.
“The Republican Party, like all parties, has its flaws. While I was within it, those flaws were harder to perceive or acknowledge; from the outside, I see them more clearly,” he says near the conclusion of his essay.
Those of us who have always been on the outside have seen those flaws from the beginning. It’s good to know that Trump’s reality distortion field is not impenetrable and that its effects are reversible at least…and that the shrinkage in the Republican party continues unabated.
You can read Peter Wehner’s detailed explication of his departure from the GOP in The Atlantic here.
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