‘If this is the new normal, I want no part of it’
Iowa’s longest-serving Republican legislator, state Rep. Andy McKean, ditched the GOP on Tuesday as he offered a searing renunciation of President Trump, saying he could no longer support Trump as the party’s standard-bearer due to his “unacceptable behavior” and “reckless spending."
McKean revealed he would join the Democratic Party, a decision he described as a “very difficult” after spending nearly a half-century as a registered Republican and 26 years in the Legislature. But ultimately, he said, “I feel as a Republican that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party.”
And “unfortunately,” he said, he could not bring himself to support Trump.
“Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is,” he said during the news conferenceat the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines, “and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world.”
McKean now joins the ranks of state Republican officials who have fled the party amid a divisive presidency and shifting political landscape. From Kansas to New Jersey, a slow succession of state lawmakers and officials, largely in suburban districts that have become less red, have both startled and appeased constituents by crossing the aisle, oftentimes citing Trump’s rhetoric, policies and a disagreement with their party’s responses to his behavior.
In explaining his decision, McKean said he returned to the Iowa Legislature in 2017 after a long hiatus to find the party-line divide more gaping than ever. Upon his return to politics, he felt “increasingly uncomfortable” siding with the GOP on many high-profile issues, he said.
McKean said he believed it was “just a matter of time” before the country “pays a heavy price for Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies," as well as his administration’s environmental and “destabilizing” foreign 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,” McKean said.
He continued: "I believe his 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.”