by MICHAEL STAFFORD, Cagle Post
I'm a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsically into the very fabric of my being.
My first political act was passionately lobbying my fourth-grade classmates to vote for Reagan over Walter Mondale in a mock election in 1984. As an adult, I continued to be a rock-solid Republican- I helped run my law school's chapter of the Federalist Society and its Republican club. And after the election of President Obama in 2008, I served as an officer in my state Republican Party. For the next two years, I devoted substantial amounts of my time, my talent, and my treasure to supporting local candidates running for office and to building the Party organization.
Today, however, I am a registered Republican no longer.
I came to the decision to leave the GOP not with a heavy heart, but with a broken one.
As a local GOP official after President Obama's election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies.
In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.
Republican economic policies are also indefensible. The GOP constantly claims its opponents are engaged in "class warfare," but this is an exercise in projection. In Republican proposals, the wealthy win, and the rest of us lose- one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan's budget to see that.
As Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein have written, "the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition." Its reckless behavior helps drive the political dysfunction crippling our nation.
In the end, it offers a dystopian vision of our future- a harsher, crueler and more merciless America starkly divided between the riders, and the ridden.
From the moment the Tea Party emerged on the scene, I had a premonition that I would eventually have to leave the GOP. [MORE]
Michael Stafford is a former Republican Party officer and the author of “An Upward Calling.” Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org