Joe Scarborough is leaving the Republican Party.
“I am a Republican, but I am not going to be Republican anymore. I’m going to become an independent,” said the MSNBC morning show host who was a vocal critic of President Bill Clinton during his time as a Republican Congressman from Florida.
I certainly understand Scarborough’s contempt for de facto leader of his now former party. Even if you can make it past President Donald Trump’s Muslim bans and border walls, his campaign and administration’s consistent ties with Russia and failure to report them has to be troubling.
Scarborough said his problems with Trump went back to when he was one of many GOP candidates in 2015. You wouldn’t know it from his allowing Trump to be an almost daily call-in guest on his television show. I guess he never believed Trump could pull it off, so he collected the ratings bonanza while he could.
But the Republicans’ lack of reaction to Trump’s recent actions — including personal attacks on Scarborough and his co-host, cohabitator, Mika Brzezinski — forced Scarborough to leave the party.
I get it. I have left parties before.
I don’t fit perfectly in any party. I’m a Southern Baptist so most people see my views on social issues as pretty conservative. But most Southern Baptists know I’m really a moderate — even though they call me a liberal because failure to check every box on the TEA Party Platform is defined as a liberal in 2017.
Fiscally, I am a “good idea” guy. Trickle down economics is silly. I have worked for enough corporations to know that in bad times, they cut and in good times they have good times. In my experience and for several of my friends in other fields, the experience is the same. After a couple of bad months, you are being asked to tighten your belt. But after a few good months, no one is asking you to find ways to spend more money to get closer to budgeted projections.
That is where trickle down economics fails the working class. Giving rich people more money doesn’t encourage them to expand, it only makes them even richer.
But that doesn’t mean I look at Democratic plans and think all plans to increase taxes and put more services under the umbrella of the government is wise either.
I do believe government can provide a safety net in addition to infrastructure, public safety and education. However, I know that those safety nets can become a hammock if we don’t hold governmental agencies accountable for efficiency.
It is true that my beliefs tend to put one of my feet on each side of the political fence and make me feel like an outsider, no matter the party with which I am affiliated.
I registered as a Republican in 1988 and 2 days later cast a vote for George H.W. Bush. Barack Obama was the only Democratic presidential candidate I have ever voted for and I only voted for him once. In 2012 I voted for myself — which looking back was a smart vote.
In 1991, I switched my affiliation to Democrat because I was running a State Senate candidate for a friend and wanted to be able to vote for her. Also, in Oklahoma in 1991, being a Democrat allowed you to vote in local races. It was the opposite when I moved to Kansas and I soon switched back to the Republican team so I could vote for a friend who was running for a State House of Representatives seat.
When I moved back to Oklahoma, the political tide had turned and now a Republican affiliation is the best bet to get to vote in local races.
I have to admit, watching national politics too closely makes you want to leave both parties. Both sides are experts on what is wrong with the other guys and neither does anything to inspire confidence in their own ideas.
Recent events, where seemingly nothing President Trump or his surrogates do can even raise the hackles of elected Republicans, make you wonder what illegal or unethical act they wouldn’t be complicit in carrying out or covering up if it meant holding on to their legislative majorities.
“You have to ask yourself what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do,” Scarborough said. “How far are they willing to go?”
I think you do have to ask yourself that. I asked that in columns during the campaign. I have asked it in columns after almost every Trump scandal since he took office. Is there a bridge too far that the Republican media machine and Republicans in Congress won’t cross with him?
Judging from recent actions, it doesn’t seem like there are limits. After every scandal, I think, “This is the one that ends the blind support.” Every time I am disappointed.
The limit will be reached one day. I’m not sure if I really believe that or if it is merely hope. I guess it is good that I haven’t completely given up hope in the character of those leading our country — at least not yet.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at email@example.com.