Opinion: As a Republican, I'm tired of Trump's division, discord, vitriol and hate
I am a lifelong Republican. And I am exhausted.
Nearly all my career, I have worked for Republican candidates and conservative causes, managing campaigns, organizing coalitions and raising money. In 2010, I helped lead the Michigan Republican Party to its most successful election cycle in history. And for nearly two years, I served as U.S. Department of Education chief of staff in the Trump administration.
But this is 2020, so of course this year is different. I cannot vote for the Republican nominee for president. For the good of the party I have supported my entire life, but more importantly, for the sake of the country I love, I implore all patriotic Republicans to join me.
There is no need to relitigate this president’s well-known and well-documented transgressions and shortcomings. Nor am I interested in refuting my friends’ hollow attempts to justify their continued support for the president based on the rare policy victory of the day.
The presidency is more than advancing any individual policy or political appointment; bigger than any party or individual; more important than “winning.” Its platform is the most influential and consequential on the globe. What a president says, and doesn’t say, matters.
President Donald Trump thrives on purposely sowing strife and discord. I have seen it up close and in person. He does so at the expense of the nation’s interests, the health and prosperity of our fellow citizens, alliances forged through generations of sacrifice, and the personal safety of public servants.
Michigan residents have become too familiar with the latter through the foiled plot to kidnap and harm our governor. Instead of a prompt and unequivocal denouncement, the president responded with a chuckle to his supporters’ “Lock her up!” chants in Muskegon, then decreed: “Lock them all up!”
“The woman in Michigan” has demonstrated more character than we have ever seen from this president. While I disagree with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on many issues, I respect her. No governor or governor’s family should ever live in fear that a Twitter tirade from the president could encourage, exacerbate or inflame hostilities against them.
The Republican Party has allowed Trump to mortgage its soul, devolving into nothing more than a morally bankrupt conduit to propagate the president’s politics of division and destruction.
I ask my fellow Republicans: Is this honestly who we are? Are the Pyrrhic victories worth it?
I strongly contend they are not. I have worked to advance education reform and school choice throughout my career. I am gravely concerned this president’s toxicity may sour a generation on those causes and many others I hold dear — causes that once united and defined the Republican Party.
Our Founders were not perfect. But they knew for the American experiment to endure, the underpinning of our institutions of government must be more than words on paper; that government also must be led by women and men of character. In Federalist 57, James Madison wrote: “The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society…”
Trump lacks even a modicum of the character the Founders recognized as requisite for the proper functioning of our self-governing Republic.
So, yes, I am tired. But I am not “tired of winning,” as you claimed I would be, Mr. President. I am tired of the division, discord, chaos, vitriol and hate. I am tired of your failure and refusal to lead.
Our party can — and must — do better. America deserves nothing less from us.
Josh Venable serves as an adviser to the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (RePAIR). He previously was chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education, deputy finance director for the Republican National Committee, and chief of staff for the Michigan Republican Party.