LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioner Hunter Taylor said Monday he is quitting the Republican Party because, under President Donald Trump, it has abandoned conservative values. The party, he said, hasevolved “into a cult of personality that embraces bigotry in this country and tyranny abroad.”
In a letter to state Republican Committee Chairman Steve Stepanek and Belknap County Republican Committee Chairman Alan Glassman, Taylor said facts and truths have been replaced by “unhinged tweets.”
Glassman said he was on vacation, had not received the letter and would only add, "the Belknap County Republicans are very supportive of President Trump and we are working hard to support his re-election." Stepanek did not return calls seeking comment.
“Policy positions change daily, and prior statements are repudiated or denied,” Taylor stated in the letter. He is changing his party affiliation to undeclared.
“The institutions upon which our form of government was built and has long operated have been compromised and corroded. Our Constitution, the rule of law and separation of powers have all given way to presidential impulses.
“Governance by reason has been replaced by edicts via twitter. Fiscal responsibility is a thing of the past as the national debt has skyrocketed under the Trump administration. Financially endangered social programs, like Social Security, have gone unaddressed.”
He said he did not vote for Trump in 2016, did not indicate support for another candidate and hoped Trump would grow into the job.
“It is now apparent he will not and those in his administration in whom I had confidence have left,” he wrote.
“Passage of a sensible comprehensive immigration statute, which appeared on the brink of happening, was abandoned by Mr. Trump and replaced by continued harangues about building the wall, by inhumane treatment of refugees at the border, by cruel separation of families and by ongoing threats of deportation of undocumented individuals who have been longtime law-abiding and productive members of our society.
"Campaign promises of a significant infrastructure overhaul and improvement of our national healthcare program have been abandoned. Our foreign policy has been turned upside down. Longtime allies are demeaned and ignored. The work of our intelligence agencies is rejected by a president who insists on bragging that he is a stable genius, while his closest international friends are a Russian dictator, a North Korean tyrant and a murderous Saudi prince.”
Taylor, 77, a retired attorney, said the Republican party has ceased to be the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and John McCain.
“At home, the Republican party does not seek to unite, rather it has become the party of ‘us’ and ‘them,’ Taylor said.
“On the world stage, the party no longer champions the cause of democracy, rather the party seeks a seat for America at the table of international autocrats. This is not the Republican Party I embraced and the America it now seeks is not the America I want for my children and grandchildren.”
In a telephone interview Monday, Taylor said Trump’s comments at a Social Media Summit at the White House last week was the final thing that persuaded him to leave the party.
At the summit, the president seemed to say First Amendment free speech guarantees don't apply broadly.
“I don't think the mainstream media is free speech either because it is so crooked, it is so dishonest,” the president said. “So to me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me that's very dangerous speech and you become angry at it but that's not free speech.”
Taylor said he would vote for a Democrat for president in the next election.
He has been a Republican for decades and recalls voting for Republican Barry Goldwater for president in 1964.
This time around, Taylor said he would favor a Democratic ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.
Another vocal critic of Trump is former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, who was a supporter of Republican John Kasich in the last presidential race.
Humphrey left the Republican Party in November 2016 and became an independent. In 2017, he called for Trump’s removal from office and said Trump is “sick of mind.”
Trump won the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary with 35.6 percent of the vote. Kasich finished second with 15.9 percent.