Writing in the Atlantic, a former Republican explains why he left the party after decades in the GOP—and the surprising perks of being “politically homeless.”
Peter Wehner, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, explains what initially drew him to the GOP.
“I saw in the Republican Party a commitment to human freedom, democratic capitalism, and a traditional social order; to upward mobility through self-reliance; to the dignity of work; to the cultivation of character and respect for the Constitution; and to a foreign policy that placed a high priority on human rights, a strong national defense, and American leadership,” Wehner writes.
“Republicans argued for limited government, economic growth, and free trade. The party respected the role of religion in public life and envisioned America as a welcoming society to immigrants and the unborn. It was hardly a perfect party. Like all political institutions, it fell short of its ideals; it was also led by some deeply flawed individuals. Yet in the main, it stood for principles that I believe promote human flourishing.”
That all changed with Trump—and the current crop of Republicans willing to do his bidding.
“But since the political rise of Donald Trump, I’ve found myself at first deeply disappointed and now often at odds with the GOP. The party of Reagan has been fundamentally transformed. It’s now Donald Trump’s party, through and through.”
Since leaving the party, Wehner has greatly evolved as a human being, he claims.
“People who are part of a tribe—political, philosophical, religious, ethnic—are less willing to call out their own side’s offenses. That’s human nature. To be sure, some are more willing to show independence of judgment than others, but none shows complete intellectual independence. I certainly didn’t.”
Here’s his hope for the future.
“Here’s what I hope: Detaching myself from my longtime political party means that I find myself more willing than I was to hear the views of people I once tended to tune out, to listen to those I once thought didn’t have much to teach me, and that I now put a greater premium on epistemological modesty than I once did,” he concludes. “Aware of having been wrong in the past, I’m more open to being wrong today, and I trust that I’m more open to correction. “There are truths to be discovered,” in the words of the political scientist Harry Clor, “but truths complex and many-sided.”