In mid-January, before any of the Republican presidential nominating contests, columnist George Will speculated about the consequences of a Donald Trump nomination. “[In 1964] I cast my vote for Barry Goldwater who valued that classic, creative defeat of his because he took the Republican Party and said, ‘Henceforth it will be a conservative party,’” Will said at the time. “Those of us who feel that way are not about to sit idly and … let it disappear in 2016.”
Five months later, Trump is the GOP’s presumptive nominee, and Will, one of the most recognized Republican pundits in the nation, has officially walked away from his party.
Conservative columnist George Will says he’s changed his party affiliation, and during a speech urged Republicans not to vote for presumptive party nominee Donald Trump.“This is not my party,” Will reportedly said Friday during a luncheon held by the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian organization.
Will, who added that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Trump pushed him over the edge, has changed his Maryland voter registration to “unaffiliated.”
Asked to comment on the news during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Will elaborated on his unexpected decision. This was the exchange between Will and host Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Well, before we get to Britain leaving the E.U., George, I want to talk about you. You announced this week that you have left the Republican Party. Why?WILL: I left it for the same reason I joined it in 1964 when I voted for Barry Goldwater. I joined it because I was a conservative. But I leave for the same reason, that I’m a conservative. To give you a time line, shortly after Trump became the presumptive nominee, he had a summit meeting with Paul Ryan where they stressed their common principles and their vast shared ground, which is much more important than their differences. I thought that was puzzling doubly so because Paul Ryan still didn’t endorse him.After Trump went after the Mexican judge from northern Indiana, then Paul Ryan endorsed him. And I decided that, in fact, this is not my party anymore. I changed my registration to unaffiliated 23 days ago. I hardly made an announcement. I just mentioned this in a meeting with the Federalist Society. So the long and the short of it is, as Ronald Reagan said when he changed his registration, I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.WALLACE: Now, not surprisingly, Donald Trump has tweeted his reaction to this news today. Let’s put it up on the screen. He says that you are “overrated” and that you lost your way a long time ago. Would you like to respond to Mr. Trump?WILL: Only, he has an advantage on me because he can say everything he knows about any subject in 140 characters and I can’t.
I’ve been keeping track of some of the GOP officials who’ve officially left the Republican Party, unwilling to remain part of a team that includes Trump, and Will’s announcement is every bit as surprising. The syndicated columnist has made no effort to hide his partisanship over the years, and Will has been a leading voice in Republican media. For him to give up on the GOP, five months before Election Day, is a striking reminder that all is not well in Republican politics.