Former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards was not a typical Republican lawmaker, having first been elected to the House of Representatives in 1977 at a time when Democrats dominated politics in the Sooner State.
But as of Wednesday, after devoting more than six decades of his life to the Republican Party, Edwards – who identifies as a “Goldwater conservative, a Reagan conservative, and a W conservative” – decided that he has had enough.
I have now left the Republican party. A party that has been at the center of my entire adult life. A party that defined me to others and to myself. It has become the opposite of what it was. It has become a cult idolizing a ruler, a trasher of institutions of democracy driven by falsehoods and hatreds.
Consider the big issue of the last two months: The “steal” of the 2020 election. Who are the supposed forces of evil who have perpetrated this “steal”? Take Arizona. The governor, a Trump supporter and conservative, certified that Trump lost a fair election in his state. The governor of Georgia, a Trump supporter and conservative, said Trump lost a fair election in his state. The conservative Republican Trump supporters who lead the Michigan legislature said Trump lost a fair election in their state. Dozens of courts—including judges appointed by Trump—said there was no evidence of fraud. The Supreme Court, dominated by conservatives and including three Trump appointees, tossed out Trump’s claim of a stolen election. Unanimously. Bill Barr, the attorney general and Trump loyalist, said there was no evidence of anything that questioned the validity of Trump’s loss.
Despite all that, Trump supporters attacked the United States Capitol. A police officer was killed by the mob; another took his life after the fact. Staffers and members feared for their lives. Journalists were assaulted. And after all that, nearly 150 Republican members of Congress still fed the falsehood that the validity of the election was in question. These were not citizens with no access to truth; they are not ignorant of the facts. They knew everything I’ve spelled out about the validity of Donald Trump’s electoral loss. They knew—but they fed the falsehood; they provided the fuel for an attack on the heart of American government, an attack that killed an officer trying to protect them. An attack by Americans against America. Supported and cheered on by Republicans. My Republicans. There were Republicans who refused to play along with the charade – men like Governor [Doug] Ducey in Arizona, Governor [Brian] Kemp, and election officials in Georgia – but for the most part even those Republican members of Congress who didn’t join the attempt to overthrow the election remained unforgivably silent out of party loyalty and fear, making them complicit nonetheless in this bloody attack on their own country.
I’ve left the Republican party. I will not be going back.