All happy partisans are alike; each unhappy partisan is unhappy in his own way.
Max Boot, the Russian-born hawkish polemicist, was a deeply unhappy Republican. His cells hurt when Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency in 2015. Then Trump kept amping to 11 the note of racism latent in Republican thinking, and Boot was struck by deeper plasmic horror.
“I had denied that Republicans were racist,” Boot said recently. “I couldn’t deny it anymore.”
Tom Nichols, an author and professor at the U.S. Naval War College, was also an unhappy Republican. Earlier this month, during the Supreme Court confirmation vote, when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) gave her never-ending spiel of sophistry in announcing she was all-in for pity-party Brett Kavanaugh, Nichols knew his party was jacked.
The GOP, Nichols wrote last week, exists only for “the exercise of raw political power.”
David Weissman — a U.S. Army veteran and once, in his words, “a full-fledged, unapologetic, red-hat wearing Trumper” — was an unhappy Trumper. He had bought Fox News’ spiteful gibberish for a long time, but then marquee liberals on Twitter got Socratic on him. He gamely followed their links to reliable articles about Hillary Clinton, Planned Parenthood and gun control.
In 2017, he decided he’d been brainwashed. “I slowly began reevaluating my principles,” he wrote in June in the Forward.
All three of these men have changed parties. Nichols is a newborn independent who has said he’ll vote his conscience. Boot registered as an independent in 2015, and now says he wants Democrats in charge.
Columnist and former Republican member of Congress Joe Scarborough quit in 2017 as the GOP Congress seemed to be losing its mind. Presidential aide Peter Wehner left both the evangelical movement and the Republican Party in December 2017, when Trump backed alleged child molester Roy Moore in a special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat in Alabama.
“There are times in life when the institutional ground underneath you begins to crumble — and with it, longstanding attachments,” Wehner wrote. “Such is the case for me when it comes to the Republican Party and evangelicalism.”
James B. Comey, who was FBI director until Trump fired him last year, was a Republican until 2016. Then, after Trump’s obsequious joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, Comey tweeted, “All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall.”
Michael R. Bloomberg, the financial-services/media mogul and former mayor of New York, was a Republican until 2007, then he became an independent. Now he’s moved to the left, and on Oct. 10, he announced (on Instagram) that he’s a registered Democrat because “we need Democrats to provide the checks and balances our nation so badly needs.”
I know what you’re thinking. Boot, Comey, Bloomberg? These are all freethinking white men of accomplishment and high intelligence. (Freethinking figures of all other genders and races gave up on the GOP ages ago.)
But what about the blind loyalists who follow Trump like bots, through thick and thin, Fifth Avenue shootings and family-shreddings at the border? Surely there are still Republicans who’d die for Trump?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
On Thursday around noon, as Internet sleuths observed, a middle-aged voter in New York fired up the website of the state’s Albany-based Board of Elections. No one quite knows what the man was thinking, but he can’t have had heart eyes for Trump as he navigated to his voter profile.
The voter then tapped a couple of keys. As of last week, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who once said he’d take a bullet for the president, is a Democrat.