While my emphasis was on bipartisan legislative undertakings, I was comfortable with my party’s priorities and felt at home in the Republican caucus. Governor Robert Ray, a Republican, was in office when I first served and was a wonderful mentor. I continue to believe that he epitomizes what is best about public service—integrity, compassion, moderation, and a spirit of rational inquiry.
But after 24 years in the legislature, I made the decision to return to Jones County to serve as a county supervisor. My four children were in or approaching their teenage years, and I felt I was needed at home. I had missed some important moments in my children’s lives—school concerts, parent-teacher conferences, sport events—and wished to make up for the time I had lost. And with college expenses on the horizon, I also needed to put more time into my law practice.
I might have limped along—attempting to work within my caucus for what I felt was best for the people I represent—if it hadn’t been for another factor. With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I felt, as a Republican, that I needed to be able to support the standard-bearer of the party. Unfortunately, that is something I’m unable to do.
I believe that it is just a matter of time before our country pays a heavy price for President Donald Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies; his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy; and his disdain and disregard for environmental concerns.
Furthermore, he sets a poor example for the nation and our children. He delivers personal insults, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, to those who disagree with him, and is a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, on- and offline.
In addition, he frequently disregards the truth and displays a willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity, and disability.
I believe that his actions have coarsened political discourse, contributing to unprecedented polarization and creating a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions.
Some would excuse this behavior, claiming Trump is just telling it like it is—and that this is the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it. Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is—and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better from the man holding the highest office in the land.
All of which is to say that my decision to switch political parties has been a very difficult decision for me and has only come after considerable reflection, much prayer, and many restless nights. I had been a registered Republican for close to half a century, a Republican officeholder for 35 years, and the longest-serving Republican currently in the Iowa legislature. I am proud of many good things that the Republican Party has accomplished over the years.
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