I've always admired this Republican, Steve Schmidt, though I have vehemently disagreed with him. We have polar opposite views of how much government we must have. But he believes in civil society and real democracy. He has been one of the most eloquent as he left the Republican Party.
Schmidt did not leave the Republican Party half-stepping. He stated that he would be voting for Democrats. Ironically we are Democrats for the same reasons; it is the best option for the country now. We differ in that I believe the Democratic Party is not Progressive enough. For him the converse is true, it is too Progressive. Pragmatism has a dictate, however. He acknowledges that the Republican Party, the GOP, has become a clear and present danger to the country.
Rolling Stone recently conducted a candid conversation with Steve Schmidt recently posted in an article titled "Ex-Republican Operative Steve Schmidt: 'The Party of Trump Must Be Obliterated. Annihilated. Destroyed.'" He did not hold back. The article started striking enough.
WASHINGTON – Steve Schmidt has worked at the highest levels of Republican politics. He helped run George W. Bush's 2004 presidential campaign and oversaw the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. He led Sen. John McCain's '08 presidential bid and helped introduce Sarah Palin to the world. The American Association of Political Consultants once named him its "GOP Campaign Manager of the Year."
But today, Schmidt is finished with the Republican Party. He renounced his membership last week in a series of withering tweets that quickly went viral. Under Trump, he wrote, the party had become "corrupt, indecent, and immoral." With the exception of a select few, the GOP was "filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party's greatest leaders." He pointed to the Trump administration's family separation policy and use of detention centers for young immigrant children – "internment camps for babies" – and the refusal of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to repudiate the president.
29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018
In the days since, Schmidt's former party brethren appear to have confirmed his prognosis. First, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted an image of five heavily tattooed Hispanic-looking men – ostensibly gang members – with the message: "Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House." Huckabee's tweet was roundly criticized as bigoted and xenophobic. (He stiff-armed these accusations.) On Sunday, David Bossie, a veteran conservative activist who was Trump's deputy campaign manager in 2016, told a black panelist on Fox News that he was "out of his cotton-picking mind." (Bossie later apologized.) These weren't the dog whistles of yore; this was plain-as-day bigotry and racism.
Schmidt acknowledges that for some time there existed a strain of know-nothingness in the party. He complained about the party based on Trump's lies and the blaming of alleged "conspiracy by nefarious and unseen hidden forces."
Steve Schmidt said there is only one way in which the Republican Party can be redeemed and resurrected. He was as candid as one can get.
If the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan is to be redeemed and resurrected, then the party of Trump must be obliterated. Annihilated. Destroyed. And all of the collaborators, the complicit enablers, the school of cowards, need to go down. Maybe something can regenerate from that.
I don't view it so much differently than I view a forest fire. A forest fire is part of a natural cycle of the forest. The forest burns, and through its burning and destruction, it is regenerated and made healthy again. For the Republican Party and the conservative movement, with its rot, its corruption, its indecency ... before there can be any talk of restoration, there must be a season of burning.
I want to plead this to Progressives, many who are in a mode of no forgiveness or association with any Conservative or Republican. It is true that the current pathology did not begin with Donald Trump. The party has been growing this cancer for decades and Schmidt and all the others like George Will, and many others who are now jumping ship were at least enablers. They depended on know-nothingness to get policies that materially hurt the poor and the middle-class through Congress and to get elected. The rot tends to spread unless we proactively extricated it.
To save this country, however, we must give Republicans, Conservatives, and others who are not necessarily in line with us some space and wiggle room to get us out of this spiral. Let's keep the vigorous but civil debates going but make sure we can coalesce to defeat the fascism, xenophobia, reactionary racism, and just lack of decency that is afflicting this country now
And to my Christian friends, specifically Trump supporting Evangelicals, you will have a lot to atone for and I hope you do so sooner than later. Ignorance is one thing, willful ignorance can be fatal.