Former Congressman Mickey Edwards served in U.S. House of Representatives from 1977-1993 and was a Republican for more than 60 years. But following the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building, Edwards has decided to leave the GOP — and he discusses his decision in an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark a week after that attack.
Edwards, who was elected to the House in 1976 via Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District and now teaches at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, opens his article by discussing his decision to join the GOP after graduating from the University of Oklahoma in the late 1950s. The conservative ex-congressman notes that because Oklahoma was so heavily Democratic in those days, registration officials tried to "talk me out of" registering as a Republican.
"I have been a Republican for 62 years," Edwards explains. "I have been a Goldwater conservative, a Reagan conservative, and a W conservative. And 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."
But Edwards goes on to say that the GOP, in the Trump era, has become "the opposite of what it was" and "has become a cult idolizing a ruler, a trasher of institutions of democracy driven by falsehoods and hatreds." And his decision to leave the GOP after 62 years was inspired by the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building and Trump's refusal to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Edwards explains, "The governor (of Arizona), a Trump supporter and conservative, (Doug Ducey), certified that Trump lost a fair election in his state. The governor of Georgia, a Trump supporter and conservative, (Brian Kemp), said Trump lost a fair election in his 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."
The former GOP congressman adds, "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."
Edwards concludes his Bulwark piece by stressing that although Ducey and Kemp did the right thing and accepted President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory, way too many other Republicans were afraid to stand up to Trump.
"For the most part," Edwards laments, "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."