I’m not voting for any Republicans this year. I imagine many readers are sarcastically thinking that’s hardly news given my obvious political tendencies, but most years I do vote for a few Republicans, especially in non-partisan races. I won’t do it in 2018.
There are some decent people who are still with the GOP who normally would earn my vote. One is Chris Hicks, our District Attorney, who is light years more progressive than his predecessor who was also a Republican, Dick Gammick, someone I never voted for. Hicks is running unopposed this year so he’s already won, but I’ll leave my ballot empty on that race as a protest against a party that has gone so far off the rails it’s likely never to recover.
No one is even pretending any more to change the Republican Party from within. There will be no coup by moderate Republicans, determined to oust the racist, misogynistic, anti-science people from power. There is not even a meaningful movement to denounce or criticize a president who is gleefully destroying our civil culture along with environmental protections and our right to quality, affordable health care. It doesn’t make sense for a rational, intelligent, modern person to be a Republican.
In Nevada, registering as a non-partisan means you give up your right to vote in the partisan primary races, which is the reason some people choose to stay and rebel against the far-right anti-everything candidates. Unfortunately, previously moderate Republican candidates are now pandering to the GOP base, becoming ever more extreme in their rhetoric, leaving their supporters to wonder if they’ve been hiding their extremism all these years and only now are revealing their true selves.
Even worse are the so-called moderate Republicans who are silent about their party’s transgressions, with no clearer example in Nevada than the defeated Republican State Senate effort to recall three female senators for the “crime” of voting against the Republican agenda in the last legislative session. Washoe County Senators Heidi Gansert and Ben Kieckhefer were complicit in the effort, led by their floor leader, Michael Roberson, never condemning the affront to voters, not even when Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison made money on the doomed plan by using his law firm to represent the recalls in court. Gansert and Kieckhefer have forever stained their political reputations by quietly endorsing the manipulation of the recall process to give their caucus better odds of controlling the state senate. It was a despicable and shameful political tactic that the courts rightly rejected.
Republicans across the nation are leaving their party in droves, choosing non-partisan status to rebuke the GOP and stake out a more rational political position. In Washoe County, non-partisan voter registration continues to rise, making campaigns less predictable, especially in light of the constantly changing national political landscape.
One former Republican who left the party back in 2000, Purdue Professor Sheila Kennedy, said her students “have overwhelming animus for today’s GOP and its priorities,” finding it “hard to believe that the party wasn’t always a refuge for anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-science, anti-government know-nothings.” She reflects that “Right now, the GOP is dominated by a relatively small group of white, elderly political and religious fundamentalists. If it weren’t for highly successful gerrymandering and the Electoral College, the GOP would already have been consigned to permanent minority status.”
Those are strong words from a former member of the Grand Old Party who left with her integrity intact. Time is running out for other Republicans of good character to escape the racist, xenophobic, authoritarianism of today’s GOP. We can encourage them by refusing to vote for any candidate with an R after their name.