Rep. Andy McKean, the longest-serving Republican legislator in the Iowa state government, announced on Tuesday that he is leaving the party due to President Donald Trump’s “unacceptable behavior” and “reckless spending.” To put this in perspective, McKean spent nearly half a century as a registered member of the party and served 26 years as a GOP lawmaker. This guy’s seen some sh*t, and he isn’t taking any more of Trump’s.
The retired attorney and square-dance caller will be seeking re-election in 2020 as a Democrat. He originally served in the Iowa House and Senate as a Republican from 1979 until 2003, returning to politics in 2016 after taking a break to spend time with family.
McKean characterized his decision to join the Democratic party as “very difficult,” but explained, “I feel as a Republican that I need to be able to support the standard-bearer of our party.”
For a party that likes to grandstand about morals whenever the questions of same-sex marriage, birth control or any number of topics come up, right-wing lawmakers have either stayed mum on Trump’s conduct (whether it be accusations of sexual assault, having affairs or his mocking a disabled reporter) or continued outright support of him. In essence, being in power is more important to them than standing by their supposed values, because in truth they only espouse these morals to court the religious right.
It’s refreshing to see McKean buck the trend. The Iowan legislator is the latest in a trickle of former Republican lawmakers, most of them from suburban districts, who are abandoning the GOP, citing the changing party landscape, as well as Trump’s behavior and rhetoric. McKean noted that, besides his disdain for our commander-in-chief, he also found politics had become increasingly divided and partisan upon his return to the state legislature in 2017.
“Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is, and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world,” the representative said in his condemnation of Trump.
McKean stated that it is “just a matter of time” until the U.S. “pays a heavy price for Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies.” He also decried the White House’s “destabilizing” foreign and environmental policies.
“He sets, in my opinion, a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children by personally insulting, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying,” he explained.
I believe [Trump’s] actions have coarsened political discourse, have resulted in unprecedented divisiveness and have created an atmosphere that is a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions. Some would excuse this behavior as “telling it like it is” and the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it.
Hopefully others who feel similarly will stand up and show the same courage.