When people have asked for our recommendations in prior election cycles, we have always prided ourselves on supporting candidates regardless of party, gender, race, or ethnic background. We look for the most qualified candidates to serve the public. We study the issues and the candidates' backgrounds and qualifications.
This year, we have been appalled that the most unqualified, vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist candidate to ever seek the presidency continues to receive support from local Republicans. We were also appalled that no local Republican state legislators sought to oust the despicable State Representative Jeremy Durham before the state attorney general's report revealed the depths of Durham's depravity.
These two sexual predators do not deserve to be in elective office. Thank goodness the GOP finally grew a spine and ousted Durham. It should have happened much sooner. They only did it after there was a public outcry. Republicans running for state and federal office continue to state their support for the unqualified and embarrassing GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Shameful.
In response, we are recommending that this year you vote only for Democrats. It is the only way to show disgust with what the Republicans have done. We think they deserve to be defeated for their support of two sexual predators. The legislature wouldn't have ousted Durham if they hadn't had to do so in order to keep him from receiving a legislative pension. Lots of people knew about his antics and turned a blind eye, including our local GOP legislators.
It has been extremely disappointing to see the Grand Old Party and all of our elected Republican officials, with the exception of Governor Bill Haslam, twist themselves into knots to support their presidential nominee. They want to have it both ways. They think they can disavow what Trump says and still endorse him, so as to keep his supporters voting for them. The Republican nominee's campaign has normalized the abnormal.
These are troubling times, politically. The history of the Republican Party was once a proud one. It was the first party to support abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. The grandfather of Alice Paul, a prominent suffragist, helped found the GOP in New Jersey. U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican who represented Maine for 24 years in the Senate, believed in compromise and governing. She also called out Republicans when they were wrong.
Senator Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" in 1950 condemned Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. Smith stated she didn't "want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear." Those words are just as important to heed now as they were back then.
Two of the three of us whose bylines are above — Happy and Jocie — were once active Republicans. We all now see Donald Trump's nomination and support as a culmination of racist overtures dating back to the late Lee Atwater's Southern strategy. It was appalling back then, and the GOP deserves the meltdown it is experiencing now.
There used to be liberal and conservative ways to solve problems. Now we are seeing a complete failure by the GOP to even acknowledge a problem exists or that government has a role to help solve it. We grieve this turn of events and hope the Republican Party can reconstitute itself and its legitimate role in our democracy. They don't need another sham "autopsy," such as the one written after the 2012 election. They also need to stop the obstructionism and begin to participate in governing again. We believe in robust debate among the parties. We also believe reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable.
The November 8th sample ballot is posted online at shelbyvote.com. Read it and learn more about who is running, and for which offices. Early voting starts October 19th and runs through November 3rd. Election Day is November 8th. Please vote. It's never been more important. Happy Jones is a retired family therapist; Jocelyn Wurzburg is a professional mediator; and Paula Casey is a speaker/writer/editor. An original, shorter version of this column appeared on MemphisFlyer.com.