On Point / WBUR (10/11/18)
Conservative luminary Max Boot explains why he left the Republican Party and is urging people to vote against the modern GOP.
On the moment he decided to leave the Republican Party
“That moment occurred the day after the last presidential election. I was somebody who was viscerally and instantly opposed to Donald Trump from the moment that he came down that escalator at Trump Tower attacking Mexicans as rapists and murderers. I couldn’t believe that you had a mainstream candidate who was talking like that, and I never imagined that he would win the Republican nomination, much less the presidency. So I was very dismayed to see Trump’s progress first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. It was the shock of my life — and I think many people’s lives — to see Donald Trump actually win the presidency. And the next day I knew what I had to do which was after a lifetime as a Republican, as a movement conservative, I re-registered as an independent because I knew — I just knew at that point — I could not be part of this Trump-ified Republican Party.
“I was part of what was know as the conservative movement a fairly early age. I was a conservative columnist at the University of California, Berkeley, I was an op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, I was a regular writer for Commentary and The Weekly Standard, I was a foreign policy adviser to three presidential candidates, so I was fairly deep within the conservative bubble working for what I thought was the good of America, and I was shocked — and perhaps I shouldn’t have been shocked, I should have seen this all along — but I was just so dismayed to see the kind of message that Donald Trump won on, which was completely antithetical to the brand of conservatism that I championed which I associate more with people like Ronald Reagan or George Will. Kind of a much more optimistic, open and inclusive brand of conservatism that doesn’t stigmatize minorities, that focuses on American global leadership, on free trade, on limited government at home. That’s the kind of conservatism that I signed up for, but that’s not the kind of conservatism that Donald Trump espouses. I mean he is someone who uses bigotry and prejudice, caters to racism and sexism and xenophobia, divides America and spreads conspiracy theories. It was truly a soul-crushing event for me to see somebody like that take over the Republican Party, and in fact, the conservative movement. And that’s why I exited the Republican Party and I’m not even sure I want to call myself a conservative anymore, because I don’t know what Conservative means anymore other than ‘Trump toady.’ …”
- Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Columnist for the Washington Post. Analyst for CNN. Author of “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right.” (@MaxBoot)