I have been a Republican my whole life. No more.
Not while Donald Trump remains the head of the party, and the Senate’s Republicans have stood nearly united behind him, rejecting patriotism to protect him.
As an attorney admitted before the illustrious Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, I cannot associate myself with conduct so cowardly, craven, and unpatriotic, so brazenly partisan and so disrespectful of the Constitution’s impeachment powers. The arguments made by the president’s defense team require us to suspend reality and twist the Constitution. Yet, tragically Professor Alan Dershowitz’s argument that as long as the president has a belief that he is acting in the public interest to get re-elected, he can not abuse his power, seems to have worked and pulled a once-admirable man like Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander over to the dark side.
I cannot associate myself with a party that is more loyal to Donald Trump than to the U.S.
This is not the first time I have wanted to bolt from the GOP, but each previous time I’d walked myself back as I remembered why I became a Republican in the first place. I liked the ideals of freedom, economic growth, a strong national defense, family values, faith, and guarding our liberties including the Second Amendment.
I joined the party in 1988 after hearing former NFL great and then GOP congressman Jack Kemp speak as he ran for president in the Republican presidential primary. It was the first presidential election I could vote in and I was taken by his passion, his words, his extended hand up to communities of color, and most of all his sunny optimism about America. He was authentic. He was conservative. And he was a man on a mission to create a Republican party that was open and welcoming to people of color.
I attended college in San Diego, and I had the privilege of being the first African-American intern to ever work for then U.S. Senator Pete Wilson (R-CA) in his Washington, D.C., office in the Senate Hart building. At that time, only two women were in the U.S. Senate, Nancy Kassenbaum (R-KS) and Barbara Milkuski (D-MD). It was a powerful experience for a young black woman from humble roots. My mother would drive down on weekends from New Jersey to get me because I could not afford to stay in Washington all week as an unpaid intern. I knew then I wanted a life in public service.
It was an unlikely journey for a young black girl who grew up in largely Democratic suburbs in southern New Jersey. I knew nothing but Democrats—Bill Bradley was my U.S. senator. Rep. Jim Florio was my congressman. State Assemblyman Wayne Bryant, who worked with President Bill Clinton on welfare reform, was a close family friend. I was supposed to grow up a Democrat. Yet, when I could choose, I chose a different path. When Christie Todd Whitman (R-NJ) almost defeated Bill Bradley for the US Senate in 1990, I was inspired. She would go on to become the state’s first female governor in 1994, and I would go on to work for her when I graduated law school later that year.
I liked what Whitman and Kemp were offering: self-determination; along with urban revitalization, entrepreneurship, wealth creation, strong military defense, Second Amendment rights, religious liberty rights, and family values. It was everything I had been taught in my family and in my church.
That Republican party is gone. This new Republican Party is beholden to a lawless, immoral, godless man. I have watched people I have known for decades twist themselves into human pretzels to defend him, excuse him, exalt him.
The current state of the GOP is not good for anyone in our two-party system that breaks down without lawmakers who can work together, and move legislation forward. The Democratic Party has problems of its own, but that is not my fight. I am not a Democrat, and will never be one. But the party of Trump is shrinking, whitening and aging as it tries to hold onto power in a more diverse America.
I am one of many high-profile black Republicans, like Michael Steele, Kay Coles James and Shermichael Singleton, who have tried for years to educate, inform, engage, and assist our party to become more inclusive and attentive to voters other than white men. Cheri Jacobus—my friend and a longtime GOP strategist who sued Trump and his ilk as they ran her out of the party, blackballed her, sued her and stalked her—started the hashtag #IlefttheGOP, which was trending on Twitter for days.
I cannot belong to a party of grievances, versus optimism, and one that is fueled by anger and demographic fears. The Republican Party is no longer fiscally conservative or socially compassionate. It is a party that promotes crazy “deep state” theories and embraces militia-nationalist fringes that carry guns in the open to intimidate others from expressing their 1st amendment rights. And worst of all, it is a party that tolerates, defends and celebrates a racist, sexist and lawless president.
There’s no place for me in what is no longer Mr. Lincoln’s party. This Republican Party is now Mr. Trump’s.