I am not afraid to be uncomfortable. I learned fourteen years ago to embrace it and even ask for it. I spent 2007 asking God to make me uncomfortable because that’s when growth occurs, that’s when we see changes we need to make. I wouldn’t live in PA had I not spent 2007 praying for – and experiencing – discomfort.
But I didn’t ask for it this time. I didn’t ask to be put into a position where reevaluating what I believe became a necessity. And I write this because I firmly believe it’s a process through which we all need to go.
I can trace my political reevaluation process back to a specific moment in September 2019 (though it started a few years earlier than that, I just didn’t recognize it for what it was). I had been speaking at a Newborn Screening awareness event at the Pennsylvania State Capitol and decided to stop by the Speaker of the House’s office afterward to ask for HB730 to be sent to the floor. I ended up meeting with the policy advisor and was told that HB730 wasn’t going to go anywhere because they “don’t want to give a Philly Democrat a win.”
The Republican party – the one that claims to be pro-life, pro-family – was going to allow babies to die because a Democrat had sponsored our bill to reform the Newborn Screening program. I was speechless and frustrated. I struggled to reconcile how “my party” could do this on a nonpartisan bill (and also wishing I had received this intel with our first bill, HB1081).
(As a quick side note, the policy advisor was instrumental in helping me behind the scenes of SB983 – he believed in what we were setting out to do and was merely the messenger about the death of the bill. It is because of him that we succeeded.)
There’s no way to know how many babies lost their lives because of the actions of the Pennsylvania Republicans during those five years. And it was those very actions that led me to consider for the first time, “what if I’m wrong (about Republicans)?”
In addition to that, I watched so many in the party embrace a man I believed to be dangerous and unfit for office. When I went on national news in October 2020 as an undecided voter who simply could not vote for Trump, I was met with disbelief and even hostility from Republicans (both in real life and online). I watched Republicans place Trump on a pedestal, even to the point now of calling January 6th “legitimate political discourse” instead of calling it what it really was – an attempt to overturn an election – because Trump said so. Despite being faced with thousands of pieces of evidence, directly from those involved, proving that this was actually a planned event to undermine our democracy, they deny the truth and continue to embrace him.
What universe are we living in?
I posted this on Facebook this week:
Tonight I did something I never thought I’d ever need to do: change my political party affiliation officially.
I have felt politically homeless for much of the past six years, but especially in the last two years. I have watched as the Republican Party became unrecognizable to me.
Me, the same one who convinced her kindergarten class to vote for George H.W. Bush because we could spell his name. The same person who was part of College Republicans, helped on many campaigns, attended Bush’s second inauguration (and was on national television) and inaugural ball. I worked for Newt Gingrich in D.C. – I was all in.
For five years I watched the Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature refuse to move my #NewbornScreening bills forward because they “didn’t want to give a Philly Democrat a win.” That’s verbatim. That was the day I began deconstructing politically. The merit of the bill didn’t matter, but the sponsor did. I played the game and got the third bill through but I was so frustrated knowing that their delays were costing lives.
I never dreamed I’d be anything but a Republican. But then things changed and I can no longer in good conscience call myself a Republican. I felt politically homeless before but now I am, officially.
Why am I announcing my departure? In hopes that it will give others the courage to do so.
The actions of the Republican National Committee today in downplaying January 6th and continuing to hold to the lie that the election was stolen sealed the deal for me. I refuse to be part of an organization that disregards Rule of Law and the Constitution. I refuse to be part of a group that is seemingly embracing authoritarianism.
Our democracy is at stake and the Republican National Committee would rather seek power than confront difficult truths and work together with other parties. Unacceptable.
So, as of today, I’m officially unaffiliated. And it feels right.
This was not a decision made out of anger, but instead one made out of deep disappointment. It wasn’t hasty (nor is it irreversible), but rather the result of years of watching the GOP slide down a very slippery slope to the point where they are now praising the authoritarian leader of Hungary, thwarting any progress in Congress because of partisanship, continuing to lie about an election being stolen and denying that they tried to overturn an election. The dangers to our democracy cannot be overstated.
I am now politically homeless because I respect (and understand) The Constitution, I believe in upholding The Rule of Law, and I believe in accepting the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is or how much it hurts to find out I was wrong. I’m politically homeless because I believe that both major parties bring good ideas to the table and I want to listen to the merits of the ideas, not what a party tells me to think about them.
Partisanship is blinding and I’m beginning to see the dangers of it, as well.
My journey to nonpartisanship has had other ramifications as well, which I will discuss in part two of this post. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are some posts I’ve written in the past about this journey to nonpartisanship and objectivity: