Why I quit the GOP

Not that anyone should care, but I changed my party affiliation the other day.  For many years I was a registered Republican. Now I’m an independent, or “unaffiliated,” as they call it in the state where I live.

I left the Republican Party because I finally had had enough — enough of the Marjorie Taylor Greene crazy wing of the party, enough of the extremists who won’t even allow for rape or incest exceptions in abortion laws, and enough of the toadies who sound like Donald Trump’s ventriloquist dummy — the ones who even now, two years after he lost, are still telling voters that he really won the presidential election in 2020 and would be in office at this very moment if only the Democrats hadn’t rigged the election.

But I left the party not only because of people who continue to believe Trump’s lies and delusions, but also because of those who don’t believe them — the ones who know better, the ones who know he lost but don’t have the guts to stand up to his loyal followers and tell them, flat out, that the election wasn’t rigged, that the Democrats didn’t steal it, and that for the sake of the party he should just do the honorable thing and shut up.

If they did that, of course, they might not get re-elected. But sometimes I wonder: What would they be willing to lose their seat over? Who knows, but it sure isn’t standing up and telling the truth about the presidential election of 2020. Profiles in courage are hard to come by. But in the world of politics, profiles in cowardice are a dime a dozen. 

A profile in courage lost her congressional seat this week in Wyoming. On Election Day 2020, Liz Cheney won her House race with 73 percent of the vote. This week she lost in a landslide to Harriet Hageman, who was enthusiastically supported by Trump. This time around, Cheney — Trump’s most prominent Republican critic and so, his number one target — won less than 30 percent of the vote. 

“The repudiation of Ms. Cheney,” the New York Times reported, “made clear Republican primary voters’ appetite for retribution against officeholders who openly and aggressively confront Mr. Trump, even as the former president remains embroiled in multiple investigations. Just two of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump last year will advance to the general election this fall.”  

Never underestimate the power of Donald Trump’s vengeance.

Surely, Liz Cheney knew that standing up for her principles and running against a Trump acolyte in a state where the former president is still immensely popular would cost her in the election.  But she obviously felt there were more important things than winning. In her concession speech she told her supporters that, “I could easily have done the same again,” referring to her massive victory two years ago. “The path was clear. But it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic.”

Cheney wanted Trump and his supporters who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to be held accountable. She was one of only two Republicans on the House committee investigating the riot. For this, and for her vote to impeach Trump, she was called a “turncoat” and a “traitor.” In her opening statement she said, “If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system.”

Who knows what’s next for Liz Cheney. I suspect we’ll know soon enough if she wants to run for president in 2024. That’s another race she almost certainly couldn’t win. But if Trump decides to run, you never know what Liz Cheney might do — maybe run as an independent and siphon off enough GOP votes to make sure he loses and never gets anywhere near the Oval Office again?

At the House hearings, Cheney spoke eloquently when she took aim at those in her party who remain loyal to Trump. “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

She’s right.  

“She may have been fighting for principles, but they are not the principles of the Republican Party,” Taylor Budowich, a spokesman and adviser to Donald Trump told the Times.

He’s also right. And that’s why I left the party, if anyone cares.

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.

Tags 2020 election claims Liz Cheney Liz Cheney reelection Republican Party trumpism

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