With so much happening in the world, you probably don’t want to read about my own personal dark night of the soul.
But at the risk of sounding narcissistic, I do think there is some value in examining why a person like me would feel compelled to leave the Republican Party.
It was only four years ago that I proudly, defiantly and publicly abandoned the Democrats. I’d left them in spirit many years before, mostly because of their insistence on treating abortion rights as fundamental. Nevertheless, apathy kept me from changing my registration for several years longer than I probably should have.
In 2016, John Kasich was my escape hatch. Changing my registration just in time for the Pennsylvania presidential primary gave me the sense that even if he didn’t win the nomination, I was able to cast my vote for a genuinely pro-life candidate: pro-child, pro-mother, pro-worker, pro-immigrant, pro-faith. He spoke a language I understood, a language that had become mangled in the mouths of Democrats.
Watching the debates this week, I heard that confused rhetoric again, with the candidates all declaring their horror at the carnage of gun violence but completely at peace with legalized abortion. If I needed any reminder of why I stopped supporting the Democratic Party, it was right there on that stage.
But the comfort and fellowship I thought I’d found in the GOP was shattered last week, when President Trump took a phone call from Turkey’s president and decided to withdraw our troops from Syria, abandoning our Kurdish allies. While some GOP lawmakers spouted off righteous indignation and some invoked real pushback, for me, it was too little, much too late. The abandonment of the Kurds and the almost cavalier attitude of some of my Trump-supporting acquaintances was a wake-up call that this was no longer a party I wanted to belong to.
This was supposed to be the party that valued our relationship with NATO, the party of a strong national defense, the party that respected our military. This was supposed to be the party that didn’t take a knee when the National Anthem was played, that wasn’t embarrassed by overt expressions of patriotism.
My angry feelings toward the Republican Party were further compounded this week when two agencies of the federal government — ICE and the FBI — threatened to deport one of my immigration clients. My client has spent the last few years providing valuable information to them in exchange for being allowed to remain in the United States — but now that the investigation has closed, he’s been taken into custody and it is likely that he’ll be deported.
I believe strongly in loyalty. It’s everything to me. That’s why I can’t get behind a Republican Party that is disloyal to everyone from our Kurdish allies, who supported us in the Middle East, to my client, who risked a lot to help America and was repaid by being sent to a detention center. I’ve had enough. I will never return to the Democratic Party, because of how they embrace abortion, play games with identity politics, and think that gender is a matter of opinion. But I no longer feel that the Republican Party represents my morals.
This is my own Declaration of “Independent.” This week, I registered as an Independent. I will never again be a Democrat, particularly not Philadelphia, where that party is filled with people like DA Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney. Their principles are anathema to me. But the GOP abandoned the principles I loved. And so, I abandoned them.
Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.