Saturday, January 27, 2024

Tonight is the Davidson County Republican Party Reagan Day Dinner, and I will not be attending.

by Rod Williams, Jan. 25, 2024- Tonight is the annual Davidson County Republican Party Reagan Day Dinner.  I say "annual," but some years the party does not have the dinner, just like some years the party skips the "annual" Davidson County Republican Party Summer Picnic. Nashville is a Democrat town and Republicans hold no seats in County government. In the non-partisan elections such for mayor and Metro Council, the party attempts to help elect conservatives but with very little success. Also at the state level, we are overwhelmingly represented by Democrats. Only in the U. S. House of Representatives is Nashville represented by Republicans, except of course those seats which represent the whole state such as senator and governor. With the party being the perpetual party losing elections, it is hard to keep party members energized. Between election seasons, sometimes party participation shrinks to the point that a dinner or picnic would have a hard time finding attendees. 

I have been active in the local party for some years. I guess I got active about 2010 or so.  While I did not hold an office in the local party, I served on committees and did lots of volunteer work. For a couple years I was responsible for planting and coordination of local Republican breakfast groups. At one time there were as many at twelve or more groups meeting each month.  One year, maybe about 2012 or so, I was given the award by the local party for the most valuable party volunteer or some such designation. I don't actually remember the name of the award, but I was recognized at the annual picnic and presented with an autographed copy of Govenor Windfield Dunn's From a Standing Start

In addition to the volunteer work I did for the party, I always attended the party conventions. I also was a financial supporter and for a few years I was a member of the "Chairman's Circle," which was for those who contributed at least a thousand dollars to the local party. By anyone's standards I have been an active party member.

Anyway, tonight is the Reagan Day Dinner, and I will not be attending. I thought about it.  I assumed I was going to go, but as the event grew closer, I just did not have the desire to attend.  The truth is I feel estranged from the Republican Party. I am not speaking of the local party in particular, but I feel estranged from Republicans in general. The Republican Party is now the party of Trump. I don't want to attend an event where people are going to cheer the mention of Trump's name.  

Being part of a party, your candidate does not always win.  When my candidate did not win, I have always been willing to unite behind the Party's nominee and put aside the sting of defeat. I would stand and cheer for the eventual nominee and work the phone banks and give money despite the candidate selected by the Party not being my first choice. I can't do that with Trump. Trump is not a normal Republican.  Being in a room full of Trump Republicans I feel about as comfortable as a whore in church. I feel like I wondered into a meeting of a religious cult. I think Trump is a threat to democracy. While I like some of his policies, I think he is reckless, uninformed, delusional, and has authoritarian tendencies. I also think he is a habitual liar, a bully, and an all-around jerk.  

This process of breaking with the Party is not easy. Being a Republican has been part of my identity. Being an active Republican has been my social life also.  I feel much like I assume one feels when they are estranged from their family, or a marriage is falling apart. My tribe has moved off and left me.

This break has been building for quite a while. This past year while doing my end-of-year giving, I did not give to several Republican organization to which I normally give and two "conservative" organizations that have gone Trumpinista. I skipped this year's State Republican Party's Statesmen's Dinner. I have in the past always attended.  This purposefully skipping of the Reagan Day Dinner tonight is another step in my recognition that I am no longer at home in the contemporary Republican Party.  

I want to make it clear, that I am not angry at any local Republican.  I like Party Chairman Lonnie Spivak and think he is doing a good job as chairman. He is a good person. No one has made me feel unwelcome.  It is just that I no longer feel a connection with Trump cultist and that is how I see the Party. Now, it seems, being a Republican means nothing more than being an unthinking Donald Trump loyalist. Given the way I feel, I think it best if I step away. I am not ceasing to be a Republican but am suspending my financial and moral support of and active participation in the Party. I am hopeful that over time, the Republican Party will lose its appetite for demagogues and return to normalcy where thinking and sane people can feel comfortable. 

 I don't fault anyone else for not coming to the same conclusion as me. In fact, I am not so sure I shouldn't have just sucked it up and gone ahead and went to the Reagan Day Dinner.  There is an argument to be made for staying engaged and attempting to pull the Party toward sanity again. Also, I want to state that the Davidson County Republican Party is not an example of a really nutty local Party. There are much worst county parties.  Unlike the Wilson County Party, we have not changed the "Reagan Day Dinner" to the "Trump Day Dinner," and we have not had nut-job Congressman Marjorie Taylor Green as a keynote speaker. Still, I know that tonight's keynote speaker, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs who campaigned in Iowa for Trump, will say a lot of laudatory things about Trump and the room will stand and applaud. I can't do that.

As part of my recognition that I am no longer comfortable supporting the Republican Party or a lot of what are consider conservative organizations these days, I am going to be more judicious about which events I promote.  I have used this blog to inform readers about opportunities for political engagement. I have always had a disclaimer stating that simply posting an announcement did not constitute an endorsement of an event or a speaker, but I no longer want to even help make people aware of organizations that promote Trumpism and the more fringe elements that have obtained mainstream conservative status in the age of Trump. There is really a dark element that is part of the right-of-center spectrum, and I don't want to associate with it or promote it. 

I am not ready to make a complete break.  I still consider myself a Republican, just not part of the Trump cult. I am not going to be attending events that make me uncomfortable. I am not going to promote events that spread conspiracy theories and promote an authoritarian position.  I am not going to give money to organizations that promote election denialism and oppose the peaceful transfer of power or oppose civil discourse, or democracy. I am not going to help elect people who would subvert our democracy. I am not going to give money to organizations that do not align with my values.

I will continue to attend events that provide value and do not make me uncomfortable. I am not totally dropping out; I am just freeing myself of a self-imposed sense of obligation to support things that no longer align with my values.  I hope to be around long enough to see the Republican Party again be the party of Reagan where a normal Republican can be comfortable again. 

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  1. It is unfortunate that you temporarily are estrange from this part of your life, Rod. However, I respect what you are doing and, apparently, you have kept an important part of yourself intact by not joining the Trump cult. Good for you.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Rod. You can always be proud of your public stance on Trump.