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I quit the GOP; here’s why

By Daniel Pipes

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for president of the United States — and I responded by ending my 44-year GOP membership. Here’s why I 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.

Second, his flip-flopping on the issues (“everything is negotiable”) means that, as president, he has the mandate to do anything 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 immediate 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.”

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 would leave 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.

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. As for president? Either the libertarian Gary Johnson, a write-in candidate or no one at all.

Daniel Pipes (on Twitter @DanielPipes) has served in five presidential administrations. He wrote this for the Inquirer.

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