I was a speechwriter for a Republican senator and worked on Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. Now, I'm leaving the GOP.

  • Though President Trump is out of office, his power over the GOP isn’t going away.
  • As Trumpism takes over the GOP, it’s time for centrists to make a break.
  • Under President Biden, centrists disaffected by the GOP can find a home in the Democratic Party.
  • Nick Pasternak is a Vice President at Firehouse Strategies. Before that, he served as the speechwriter for U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) and worked on numerous Republican campaigns, including Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. 
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The impeachment trial of former President Trump should be a perfect exit ramp for the Republican Party. After five years of being captive to Trump’s divisive rhetoric, conspiracies, and ethno-populism, the Republican Party could convict Trump for his obvious offenses and use the opportunity to build a worthy post-Trump GOP. 

But they won’t. 17 Senate Republicans won’t vote to convict. The party won’t give up its deference to his base. There will be no post-Trump GOP because, despite losing, Trump is the modern GOP.

That’s why I’m leaving the Republican Party for good.

The Republican Party can’t move on from Trump

That’s a hard admission, because from a young age I dreamed of doing great things for the Republican cause. I worked on campaigns, chaired my College Republicans chapter, and later got my dream job as a hill staffer working for GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia. As a centrist, I felt like I had a place in the Republican tent, even if I was to the left of many of my peers.

For the last five years I held out hope that the ideals that first drew me to the party — personal liberty and equality, free markets and free trade, global leadership and moral clarity — would return if we could just get Trump out of the way. 

But it’s now clear that Trump’s impact on the party is too deep. 

Even after Trump clearly incited the January 6 Capitol insurrection, many Republicans are instead pointing their ire at the 10 House Republicans who had the courage to support impeachment.

The Republican National Committee unanimously reelected Trump’s hand-picked leader, Ronna McDaniel, despite the party having lost the House, Senate, and White House in just 2 years.

Fringe voices like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Lauren Boebert are rising unrebuked by most of the party, while decent, pragmatic problem-solvers like my former boss lose their seats.

Inertia seems to be pulling the GOP further in this dark direction, and that’s why it’s time for centrists like me to make a break.

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