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Black Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton announced on Twitter this weekend that he’s leaving the party.
On July 4, Singleton tweeted that he's been associated with the GOP since middle school when he started a chapter of the Teenage Republican Society. He contemplated the decision to split with the party for two and a half years before deciding he doesn’t support President Trump.
Trump has supported policies that even the most traditional Republicans would such as tax reform, deregulation and strengthening the military, he says. But Singleton started questioning if Trump’s policies justify his behavior and character as an individual — and concluded that they don’t.
The values the president maintains are not consistent with what Singleton believes conservatism should or can be, he says.
“To be a conservative has to be more than just passing a piece of legislation here or there,” he says. “There has to be a certain level of temperament associated with it. There has to be a certain way of being the way one carries him or herself, the way they treat others, the way they view the world.”
Singleton had to change his phone number after making his announcement. While most of his friends knew about his dilemma for some time and have been supportive, he’s spoken with the few people who were upset.
“I respect your right to support the president. I would hope you respect my right to disagree with the president,” he says. “The party is just going in a direction that I'm just not comfortable with.”
A new Gallup poll this week shows the president's approval rating at 38%, but that it also went up in the past month among Republicans from 85% to 91%. Republican support for the president is increasing because the country is segmented by tribalism, he says.
Trump’s overall support is decreasing because Independents who voted for him in 2016 are growing concerned, Singleton says.
Middle-of-the-road voters supported Trump because they wanted to see something different in Washington or for legislators to pass policies such as deregulation, he says. But now, he says these people are questioning whether these things are worth dividing the country, increasing racial tensions and decreasing morale from a lack of leadership.
The president will need to win these people’s votes in November if he wants to stay in the White House. While he hopes the party’s recent paradigm shift is temporary, Singleton thinks the upcoming election could shape the future of the GOP.
“I think if the president wins in November, he will have permanently shifted the Republican Party into his brand of what Republicanism is,” he says.
If Trump loses, Singleton predicts a reckoning for the party.
Many people who voted for Trump in 2016 were not traditional Republican voters — nor traditional voters at all. These people came out to the polls in 2016 to vote for Trump, so if he loses in 2020, these voters will dissipate, Singleton says.
This would give the GOP a chance to reset itself, he says, though the party would also need to sell many different groups of people on its ideology to move forward.
While he doesn’t want to share how he plans to vote in November, Singleton respects former Vice President Joe Biden as a man of character despite disagreeing on some policies.
If Biden beats Trump, that would allow the GOP to restart — which is necessary for the party’s long-term survival, he says.
“On the alternative, if [Biden] does not win and President Trump does win, then all of my concerns, all of my fears will really become actualized,” he says, “as I do not think that there will be a party for me to return to.”
This segment aired on July 7, 2020.
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