Steve Schmidt was a lifelong Republican who worked at the highest levels of Republican politics. Because of Trump, he has left the GOP. And he now says that Trump’s Republican party must be obliterated. He’s right.
Steve Schmidt has been involved at the highest level of Republican politics for decades. He ran George Bush’s 2004 campaign and oversaw the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. He also ran John McCain’s campaign in 2008 and introduced us to Sarah Palin, which he now acknowledges was a big mistake. But, after spending his entire adult life as a Republican, he has now left the party, thanks to Donald Trump.
29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2018
Last week, Schmidt gave an interview to Rolling Stone. And he didn’t pull any punches.
When Rolling Stone asked him why he left the Republican party he said,
“I think it’s fair to say I’ve been estranged from the party on a number of issues going back to my advocacy and support for marriage equality in 2009 and then my opposition to the populism and the nationalism that we’ve seen. The reality that I’ve come to is that the party stands at an hour at which it is irredeemable, where it has died and bled out because of the cowardice and fecklessness of its leaders.
When Trump was elected, there were three parties in Washington: the Trump party, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Republican Party had every chance to put a check on his vile personal conduct, his administration’s outlandish corruption, his fetishizing and affinity for autocrats around the world and his undermining of the western alliance.”
Schmidt also talked about the cancer that has always lived inside the Republican party.
“This cancer has always been there. This dormant cancer. But it has become fully embraced in this moment. We’re seeing at this moment a president of the United States do five things. He is using mass rallies that are fueled by constant lying to incite fervor and devotion in his political base. The second thing we see him do is to affix blame for every problem in the world. Many of them are complex, not so different from the issues faced at the end of Agrarian age and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We see him attack minority populations with words like “invade” and “infest.” The third thing he does is a create a shared sense of victimization caused by the scapegoated populations. This is the high act of Trumpism: From Trump to Sean Hannity to Laura Ingraham, everyone is a victim. The fourth thing he does is he alleges conspiracy by nefarious and unseen hidden forces – the “deep state.” And the fifth thing is the assertion that “I am the law, that I am above it.” He just said immigrants don’t get a hearing; they don’t get a court representation.”
“The two parties for a long time were not homogeneous ideologically. There were plenty of conservatives in the Democratic Party, and there were no small number of liberals in the Republican Party. Now, culturally, we’re in thrall to theocratic crackpots like Mike Huckabee and Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, where you’re able to justify the candidacy of a Roy Moore because you want to keep the Senate seat. The theocracy and crackpot sewer conservatism has taken over.
What you’ve seen is this rapid devolution over the last 18 months of the Republican Party becoming a white ethno-nationalist party, a blood-and-soil party that is protectionist, isolationist, that is rooted in resentment and grievance.”
Then Schmidt was asked if the Republican party can be saved. He replied,
“If the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan is to be redeemed and resurrected, then the party of Trump must be obliterated. Annihilated. Destroyed. And all of the collaborators, the complicit enablers, the school of cowards, need to go down. Maybe something can regenerate from that.
I don’t view it so much differently than I view a forest fire. A forest fire is part of a natural cycle of the forest. The forest burns, and through its burning and destruction, it is regenerated and made healthy again. For the Republican Party and the conservative movement, with its rot, its corruption, its indecency … before there can be any talk of restoration, there must be a season of burning.”