IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Growing number of Republicans decide to walk away from the GOP

As a lifelong Republican and former fundraiser for Bush and McCain put it, "Enough. I'm out."
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington
The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building is reflected in a puddle on a rainy morning in Washington February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) - RTR2X7LP(C) Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / REUTERS

To a degree without modern precedent, the Democratic presidential ticket enjoyed considerable support from prominent Republicans in the 2020 elections. As regular readers know, former RNC chairs backed Joe Biden. So did former Republican cabinet secretaries and some Republicans who worked as members of Trump's own team.

The list included former GOP governors, former GOP senators, former GOP House members, and several dozen Republican national security officials -- from the Reagan, Bush/Quayle, and Bush/Cheney administrations -- all of whom endorsed Biden.

There was some question at the time as to what would happen after Election Day had come and gone. After all, we were talking about lifelong Republican voters who'd been disgusted by Donald Trump, who ended up losing. Perhaps they'd return to their partisan flock?

Perhaps not. Reuters reported this morning that many Republican veterans of the Bush/Cheney administration are leaving the party, "dismayed by a failure of many elected Republicans to disown Donald Trump after his false claims of election fraud sparked a deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol last month."

These officials, some who served in the highest echelons of the Bush administration, said they had hoped that a Trump defeat would lead party leaders to move on from the former president and denounce his baseless claims that the November presidential election was stolen. But with most Republican lawmakers sticking to Trump, these officials say they no longer recognize the party they served.

Jimmy Gurule, who was undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Bush/Cheney administration, told Reuters, "The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I'd call it the cult of Trump."

Kristopher Purcell, who worked in the Bush White House's communications office for six years, added that he knows of dozens of former Bush/Cheney officials who've decided to leave the party or are cutting ties with it, from conversations he has been having. "The number is growing every day," Purcell added.

This comes, of course, about a month after Colin Powell, who served as the secretary of State in the Bush/Cheney administration, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria, "I can no longer call myself a Republican."

Meanwhile, Jacob Monty, a lifelong Republican who was a major fundraiser for Bush and John McCain, wrote an op-ed the Houston Chronicle a few days ago denouncing the GOP.

"Both political parties have always had their fringe elements, but without any guiding principle beyond mindless adherence to Trump, the GOP has surrendered itself to them," Monty wrote. "QAnon conspiracies have become mainstream in a party that has now unquestioningly adopted Trump's fantasies about the 2020 election.... Enough. I'm out."

A day later, NBC News ran this segment highlighting thousands of former Republican voters in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, and Florida who changed their voter registration in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The segment quoted former RNC Chair Michael Steele dismissing those who see these shifts as irrelevant. "When you're losing Republican members and you're left with QAnon and Proud Boys, you've got to reassess whether you're even close to being a viable party," Steele said.

All of this comes with some relevant caveats. For example, the reports about Bush/Cheney veterans giving up on the party are notable, but largely anecdotal. Even the data NBC News flagged from secretaries of state points to relatively small numbers given the overall size of the states.

The fact remains, however, that as Republicans come to terms with the fact that they've lost all control over the levers of federal power, they're simultaneously embracing their corrupt former president, crackpot conspiracy theories, and an indifference toward meaningful governing. Some in the party have noticed, and they're headed for the exits.