Iowa Republican Andy McKean announced last month that he was switching parties from Republican to Democratic, and yesterday, his letter in the Atlantic explaining his decision burned its way into the hearts of every other Republican who may be considering that switch as well — because it has everything to do with what the Party has become under the leadership of Donald Trump.
First elected more than 40 years ago to the Iowa state legislature, and a registered Republican during that entire time, McKean has seen the administrations of 7 different presidents — and ten different campaigns for the presidency come through his bellwether state — and many would argue that there have been plenty of opportunities for any given Republican to become disgusted with the Party. But it’s Donald Trump specifically that has driven McKean away.
Despite seeing the attack on unions and the fall of American manufacturing during the Reagan years, along with the expensive and misguided War on Drugs, despite watching as his Party drummed up support for the biggest foreign policy blunder in the modern era — that ended up killing a million Iraqis — and despite the constant encroachment by Republicans on the social safety net, robbing Social Security and trimming Medicare at every opportunity, McKean soldiered on in a Party where he opposed all of this and more.
Many would say that being in a state legislature as opposed to the federal government gave McKean somewhat of a shield from the nasty national politics of partisan fighting. But in his letter, the legislator notes that even within Iowa, that partisanship has reached a fevered pitch.
Now the word “Republican” is inextricably linked to Donald Trump, and that’s what McKean cannot abide:
I also found a very changed Republican caucus. While I have great respect and personal regard for my Republican colleagues, I found myself more and more uncomfortable with the stance of my party on the majority of high-profile issues, such as gutting Iowa’s collective-bargaining law and politicizing our method of selecting judges. I worked for changes to improve legislation that I had concerns about, but also voted against many of these priorities.
I might have limped along—attempting to work within my caucus for what I felt was best for the people I represent—if it hadn’t been for another factor. With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I felt, as a Republican, that I needed to be able to support the standard-bearer of the party. Unfortunately, that is something I’m unable to do.”
McKean goes on to describe a president that the country has come to know all too well — an arrogant bully:
I believe that it is just a matter of time before our country pays a heavy price for President Donald Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies; his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy; and his disdain and disregard for environmental concerns.
Furthermore, he sets a poor example for the nation and our children. He delivers personal insults, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, to those who disagree with him, and is a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, on- and offline.
In addition, he frequently disregards the truth and displays a willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity, and disability.”
But the biggest takeaway is this: The difference between McKean and the legions of Republicans who have simply elected to retire, too exhausted from the partisan fight to go on, let alone to do so while attempting to defend the indefensible in Trump, is that McKean isn’t leaving.
He’s becoming a Democrat.
He’s continuing his political career and his attempt to best serve his constituents and the people of America, and also taking on the man he feels destroyed the Party he loved, driving him from it and into the big tent of the Democratic Party.
That’s one Republican I can actually respect.
Featured image is a screen capture.