Republicans are organizing to defeat the GOP in their own party. We talked to a few of them.
Follow the Lincoln Project, Republicans Voters Against Trump, or any number of the well-known Republican groups that are voicing their disapproval of Donald Trump on social media and elsewhere, and you’ll be treated to a maelstrom of voices speaking out in disapproval of the current administration.
These groups publicly lambast everything from how Trump has handled the Covid-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests, to the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and a second stimulus package for the country.
“Trump sold a lot of people on the fact that he was this business guy and that he would shake up Washington if elected,” Tim Miller, the Political Director for Republican Voters Against Trump, one of the two largest anti-Trump Republican groups (The Lincoln Project is the other) actively rally voters against the president. “His presidency has been none of that. Many Republicans, on a practical level, thought they were getting a business guy and, instead, they got an extremist madman.”
The thing we have lost is the ability to love our neighbors. We have lost the ability to have respectful debates in the current environment.
As the Trump presidency stretches into its sunset days before the election on November 3, more and more Republicans, both well-known and everyday voters, are stepping up and speaking out against the embattled president. Prominent leaders in the Republican party have become increasingly disillusioned with the president’s behavior. Everyone from former Coronavirus Task Force staffers like, Vice President Pence’s aide, Olivia Troye, to former Republican leaders like President George W. Bush and Colin Powell are taking a stand and publicly announcing that they are voting for Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden.
“Trump is just such a disaster that we can hopefully get rid of him,” Miller continues. “He is clearly going to lose the popular vote by a massive number. Whether he can jerry-rig some electoral college victory to create a question remains to be seen, but he will be rejected by the popular vote even more than he was last time.”
Here’s a look at a selection of Republican voters in swing states who say they are voting for Biden, instead of Trump in the coming election.
“I don’t recognize the leadership of this party, anymore.”
Monica Haft is an attorney in the Dallas, Texas area, and she says she’s been a lifelong Republican. “I voted for Trump in 2016 and immediately regretted my decision,” she says. “I have regretted it every day since.” Haft regretted her decision so profoundly that she decided to post a video to YouTube for Republican Voters Against Trump about her regrets.
“I have always voted Republican,” Haft says. “I voted for Trump in 2016, and if I am honest, I voted with my party. For me, at the time, it was a vote against Clinton. I was really upset about Benghazi at the time, but my concerns paled in comparison to what Trump has done. Before Inauguration day, I realized I made a horrible mistake. I had heard plenty of whispers about his bizarre behavior, but I pinched my nose and voted for him.I think he’s dangerous because he has no tethers, and he has no empathy. I had already made up my mind that I wouldn’t vote for him again, maybe that meant that I wouldn’t vote, but I will not vote for Trump again. I’m supporting Biden.”
The daughter of a Cuban immigrant, Haft grew up in New York before college. She says that Trump’s erratic behavior and, specifically, his international policies — especially because she has a son in the military — have made her even more sure of her vote.
“For me, it was definitively what he did to the Kurds last year,” she says. “Telling a Turkish dictator to go ahead and just completely betray these people who have been assisting us for the past two decades, knowing all the atrocities that would happen, that made me sick. My son was in the region at the time, and it infuriated me for the security of all the troops deployed overseas.”
“I don’t recognize the leadership of this party,” she continues, “They are complicit in propping the president up in all of this foolishness. I don’t recognize the posture of these people; this anti-immigrant, anyone not for us is against us, nonsense. I am in a very strange position of being pro-life and pro-woman. I am extremely disappointed in the Republicans and Trump for not passing more legislation to protect women. I don’t feel like Republicans have done anything to unburden women. I don’t feel like a hypocrite in voting for Biden. I oppose the death penalty; I support gay marriage and gay rights; I support two consenting adults’ right to marry and be happy. I don’t really fit anywhere, politically, anymore.”
“Trump is an existential threat to Democracy.”
Glenn Schatz is a former Navy Lieutenant and a veteran who served for seven-and-a-half years. The son of a Taiwanese immigrant, he says he has been actively involved in politics since he was president of his high school Young Republicans group. Schatz feels so strongly against Trump that he too posted a video to Republicans Voters Against Trump, and he’s currently working with a local group in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, Veterans for Responsible Leadership, to bring more moderate Republicans to office, and get Trump out of the White House.
“I always voted Republican,” he says. “I voted for Gary Johnson in 2016, and after that, I became an independent. Trump is all the parts of the Republican party I don’t like. He caters to the Christian Conservative elements for cynical reasons. He’s ignorant when it comes to foreign policy; he doesn’t understand business. He’s a trustafarian, real estate developer. He is not a conservative. He is basically a white nationalist.”
“I believe that Trump is an existential threat to democracy,” he says. “The reason we moved from Taiwan to the U.S. was because my dad believed very strongly in what the U.S. stood for. I grew up loving the U.S. and the values of the Constitution, and I joined the military because of that. There is a piece of me that views Trump as a threat to everything that I thought was right about America, and I’m not naive about it.”
“The Republican Party is a joke right now.”
Emily Matthews has always loved politics, but unlike her other friends, she’s always been Republican. “I grew up in a conservative suburb of Atlanta. My family was conservative. That was my background,” she says. She was drawn to politics and spent some time in Washington, D.C., working for various efforts prior to the 2016 election. When Trump ran, she says she thought it was a lark.
“I laughed it off like everyone else did,” she says. “I thought Trump’s whole candidacy was a ploy to just start a new network, and I figured he would just go away.”
When Trump did win, Matthews says that she was a bit shell-shocked but hopeful, and she moved to D.C. from Georgia after working for Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign in 2016. “I figured Trump’s win would be a protest against the party, and what the leaders had nominated. It was just sad, post-election, to watch Congress fall into line.”
After the election, Matthews says she couch-hopped with various D.C. friends for a while, trying to figure out how best to apply her skills to affect change. Eventually, she landed at Stand Up Republic, a conservative-leaning group started, in part, by McMullin. While there, the group focused on the Mueller investigation and Russian influence in the presidential campaign. One night while walking home from work, Matthews says she got a phone call on her cell from an unknown Russian number, and it spooked her. She decided that she needed a break from D.C. for a while and moved back to Atlanta, where she resides and works today.
During her time away from D.C. she stayed connected with a friend and former coworker, Reed Howard, and continued volunteering in politics.
“This spring, Reed suggested that we start Biden Republicans. I was ready to get back on the field, I was ready to fight for something, not against it. There is nothing that is going to change Trump, and I wanted to be able to change and pave a new way,” she says. Biden Republicans currently has more than 22,000 followers on Twitter. Matthews says that she and Howard considered trying to monetize the group, but decided against it, instead opting to manage it as a movement against Trump, and volunteer their time to get him out of the White House.
“The Republican Party is a joke right now,” Matthews says. “I feel like I always have to say that I am fighting for the conservative values we used to fight for, and I would like to come back to that. It’s hard when your ambassador is a dope. Trump has hijacked any sort of good sense policy.
“It’s so tribal now. We all want the same thing. We all want a flourishing country. The thing we have lost is the ability to love our neighbors. We have lost the ability to have respectful debates in the current environment.”
“I was duped. Most of the American public was duped.”
Terrell Comwell says he’s a bit of an anomaly in his home state of Maryland. “I believe that a lot of people think that there aren’t any young, Black, Republicans, and almost no Christian, Black Republicans in Maryland,” he says. “I’m still the only Republican in my family.”
Many Republicans feel like this is the first time they need to vote for Democrats. We are in this time of change in the party and that’s what I think is driving this.
Cromwell grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and at 26, he’s a debt settlement agent and a minister at his church. In 2016, he says he voted for Trump because he’s been a registered Republican since 2012, but says that Trump’s behavior has changed his mind in 2020.
“The tipping point for me was Trump’s response to race relations,” Cromwell says, “Especially as an African American and a young Black male. It was really hard for me to support President Trump any further. I was 100 percent a supporter.”
Cromwell felt strongly enough about his choice to not vote for Trump in this year’s election that he decided to post a YouTube video to Republican Voters Against Trump, as well.
“I have 100 percent enthusiasm for Joe Biden in this election,” Cromwell says. “He has shown that he is willing to listen, and that is a big deal to me. It’s about understanding that African Americans have and will continue to experience systematic racism. Until that is communicated into Trump’s platform, I will not be able to vote for him.”
Yet Cromwell says he’s not abandoning the Republican party altogether. “Donald Trump will not make me leave my party,” he says. “I voted for Trump because I thought his business mind, even though he was a fraud, was going to be good for the country. I was duped. Most of the American public has been duped, but I am going to stay a Republican until they have left every value I stand for.”
A changing Republican party
As more registered Republicans, both everyday people and well-known figures begin to speak out about their anger, disillusionment, and disdain for Trump in the upcoming election, the party faces yet another tipping point. It’s not the first time that the Republican party has seen revolution in its ranks, but as Miller says, it’s about a lot more than a divisive president.
“A lot of people feel homeless, politically,” Miller says. “They have never voted for Democrats but they no longer recognize their own party. These Trump-aligned people have come in and Trump has made the party in his own image. Many Republicans feel like this is the first time they need to vote for Democrats. We are in this time of change in the party and that’s what I think is driving this. It was a slow-moving trend that Trump put on steroids, with his grotesque character and behavior. He basically executed a hostile takeover of the country and there are plenty of Republicans who don’t support him. I am hopeful we can sweep him out.”