It’s not news that Donald Trump has forced a number of sane Republicans out of the GOP–and in some cases, pushed them all the way into the arms of the Democrats. But it’s not every day that you see a former staffer for one of the most noxious sites on the right hop the fence and join Team Blue. That’s what happened earlier this week, when Breitbart News’ former spokesman announced that he is becoming a Democrat.
USA Today columnist Kurt Bardella spent most of his adult life as a Republican communications staffer. He served as spokesman for Senator Olympia Snowe and Congressmen Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa. He was also a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when Issa chaired it. In 2014, he joined Breitbart as a media consultant. His Republican leanings date back to his time growing up in Escondido, California; he cut his teeth in the era of “compassionate conservatism.”
Bardella was one of a number of Breitbart staffers who resigned after then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski assaulted Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. He was appalled at how Breitbart brass left Fields twisting in the wind. It started what Bardella calls “a long period of self-reflection about my own political compass.” That period led him to become a never-Trumper. He was increasingly critical of his former boss, Steve Bannon, as he and Trump turned a deaf ear to “legitimate issues” in favor of throwing red meat to “a lunatic fringe that subscribes to an ideology of hate and fear.”
It was a big change from when he first started in politics; as he wrote in September, before leaving Breitbart, his only concern was “my team against theirs.” However, Trump’s short tenure has led him to see some “ugly realities about the GOP” that he previously hadn’t seen. He slammed Trump and other Republicans for ignoring the evidence for climate change, not owning up to their role in “furthering the racial divide in this country,” as well as an immigration policy that enabled the likes of Joe Arpaio.
Over time, he realized that much of the Republican platform was “out of alignment with what I believed.” But what finally knocked the last scales from his eyes was the GOP circling the wagons around Roy Moore. He was appalled that Trump and other Republicans were willing to give their stamp of approval to “a sexual predator who preys on underage teenagers at the local mall” in the name of keeping Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat out of the hands of a Democrat.
For Bardella, this was the end.
The #RNC is following #Trump's lead and getting behind #RoyMoore in #ALSEN. The Republican Party is officially funding a sex predator who preyed on underage teenagers at the local mall. I NEVER want to be affiliate with the #GOP ever again. I'm joining the Democratic Party.
— Kurt Bardella (@kurtbardella) December 5, 2017
The RNC’s embrace of Moore made Barbella realize that the GOP “no longer stands for anything.” He now believes that the Democrats will do more to “create equality,” protect our First Amendment freedoms, and “ensure the survival of our planet and its natural resources.” After looking at both parties’ visions for this country, Bardella likes the Democrats’ vision more, ” and I want to be a part of it.”
Bardella dropped by MSNBC’s “Velshi & Ruhle” on Friday to talk more about his switch. Watch here.
Bardella said he was disgusted by the “collective silence” from Republican Senators when it became apparent that Moore still had a chance to win.
Not surprisingly, Bardella has been flooded with congratulatory messages on Twitter.
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) December 8, 2017
Much respect for what you said on MSNBC. Welcome to the Democratic party.
— Shirley Jackson (@mousejax) December 8, 2017
I made a similar transition, to a lessor degree, as you. As an undergrad I used to intern for Laura Ingraham at the Heritage Foundation. Two years ago I was Co-President of the Democrats Club at Harvard Business School. My conscience is clear. You’ve made the right choice.
— James A. Correa (@jamesacorrea) December 8, 2017
Welcome to the party @kurtbardella – I always knew you had it in you. Also, ignore those who say since you weren't always with us you aren't welcome – I'm a proud progressive and I say you are. Change is good. https://t.co/pB7WIoLXNy
— Yuri Beckelman (@YuriBeckelman) December 8, 2017
Let’s send him some more. Welcome to the party, Kurt.
(featured image courtesy Bardella’s Twitter)