I’m not one for these sorts of grand public gestures that some other conservatives are fond of making whenever they get angry. I haven’t repeatedly (or ever) threatened to quit the party before. I’ve believed in fixing a damaged vehicle from within. Conservative in the primary, Republican in the general. Heck it’s been a site rule at RedState for many years.
But at some point recently, it just got to be too much. Probably, it happened while I sat in Cleveland a couple weeks ago watching the party that has been my political home almost since birth embarrass itself in support of a joke, and fall over itself to condemn the one man of conscience who attended, along with all his supporters. I just don’t want to be associated with a party that’s cheering such a patently unserious man on to the Presidency, and so I won’t. I’m not expecting anyone to take pity on me or view this as any sort of momentous event whatsoever. I’m sure many people will scoff and say, “who cares what Leon Wolf thinks?” Fair. There’s nothing more or less to this announcement than my own personal belief that I should try to correct the record publicly if I’ve said something in public that I no longer believe in, and for years I publicly said the GOP was a force for good in this country.
Tennessee is one of the 20 or so states that doesn’t even have official party registration rolls, so I don’t have any sort of card to burn and I won’t even be calling my Secretary of State or County Election Commission to change my registration to Independent or unaffiliated or anything. I just am not really invested in the success or failure of the GOP anymore. I don’t feel any sort of obligation to support the party’s nominee for President (not that I did in the first place), so you can save your “he won the primary, you have to vote for him” speeches. I’m a conservative independent now; supporting this corrupt party’s unfit nominee isn’t my problem.
I had hoped that I would still be able to support the party in spite of Trump’s nomination, but the capitulation to Trump has been too total and too craven. You can count the elected Republicans who have not bowed the knee to Baal (and have had the courage to explicitly state as such) on your fingers and toes, and I’m not sure that you even need the toes. The Republican party now stands for shallow, empty xenophobia, trade policy ignorance, an unserious and uninformed foreign policy, massive hikes to the minimum wage, and the pathological avoidance of personal responsibility. It stands for all these things because Trump stands for all these things, and if you oppose Trump, the party has made it plain that you oppose the GOP.
I oppose these things, I oppose Trump, I oppose the party’s craven capitulation to Trump and their open contempt for conservatives. I support the few good conservative candidates and office holders who exist in this country, who haven’t prostrated themselves before the magnificent, tremendous golden Trump brand calf. These people will still receive my support, for whatever it is worth, and my votes, and my petty donations whenever I am able to make them.
I respect people who believe that the party is still a vehicle worth protecting, and that Trump is a momentary aberration that will pass after November. I respectfully disagree but I hope they are right and I am wrong. I suspect that a party that has been shorn of its conservative conscience – that has actively jettisoned the voice of National Review in favor of the voice of Breitbart – will not be capable of the sort of reflection and serious change that will cause them to get better rather than worse in the future. Trumpism and all its perverted glorification of ignorance and small-minded and thinly-veiled bigotry is likely here to stay within the GOP, if not get worse.
None of this will change any of the things I think or believe, but it does change the way I think about the long-term viability of the two-party system, or my perpetuation of one of the two parties currently contained within it. If I had some way to make it more official, I would. Since I don’t, this declaration will have to suffice.