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Letter: Former Republican: Only way forward for GOP is to ditch Donald Trump

The Detroit News

It was the night of Nov. 7; the year was 2000, and I remember popping the popcorn as my family watched the election results come in. After a much longer-than-expected wait and plenty of drama, our preferred presidential nominee, George W. Bush, would take back the White House for the Republicans that year.

That was one of my first political memories as a kid. I was a young and naive 12-year-old, but it was memories like that election that began to ignite my flame for politics, and more specifically for the Republican Party.

In my political life, I’ve put countless sweat and tears into doing my part to advance the GOP platform. I’ve volunteered on multiple political campaigns, knocked on doors and made phone calls, supported countless Republican organizations and been elected to three terms as precinct delegate at the grassroots level in the Michigan Republican Party.

This Republican Party defends its leader while  looking the other way on his controversial past, Helderop writes.

In my experience, the GOP has changed significantly in the last 10 years, beginning with the rise of the tea party, moving into the era of President Donald Trump in 2016 and eventually evolving even further right in the last couple years.

The GOP I grew up admiring taught principles and values centered around life, family and personal responsibility, as well as a strong national defense among others. Furthermore, that party encouraged the free exchange of ideas and subscribed to Ronald Reagan’s “big tent” vision, because diversity of ideas and people makes the party stronger and, therefore, the country stronger.

Reagan famously said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” The Republican Party I grew up wanting to be a part of the day I turned 18 looked vastly different than Trump’s Republican Party. Today’s GOP follows Trump’s lead by taking divisive stances on issues such as immigration and race, while failing to lead when issues call for bold stances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

And when it comes to foreign policy, Trump’s approach of appeasing dictators and leaders of countries who don’t like America while diminishing our relationships with longstanding allies has the complete support of his Republican base. In fact, a recent report said the president was briefed as early as February about Russia paying bounties for the deaths of American soldiers. Rather than speaking up to defend our military, he has instead opted to remain silent.

Today’s GOP finds itself at a crossroads. There are many people like me who used to call themselves Republicans but find themselves politically homeless in 2020. According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans dropped from 47% in February 2020 to 39% in June 2020. In an election year when millions of dollars are spent on bringing people into the party, Americans are fleeing the GOP. To re-elect Trump would be to affirm not only his actions but also this version of the party.

The future of the GOP is at stake this November, and the only viable way forward is without Trump.

Brandon Helderop, Northville

former Republican