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How Roy Moore helped me leave the Republican Party and join the Democrats

For years I championed the Republican Party's political vision. But not anymore.
Image: Roy Moore Rally
The final countdown.Andrea Morales / for NBC News

Ever since I was 16 years old, I have identified as a Republican. For years, I have worked for Republican elected officials across the ideological and leadership spectrum. When Republicans talked about the need for a more transparent government that was accountable to the American people — I believed it. When Republicans talked about balancing budgets and living within our means — I supported it. When Republicans talked about adhering to a governing vision outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights — I championed it.

I still believe in those things, but the Republican Party does not.

For decades, the Republican Party has marketed itself as the “rule of law” party. From immigration to police brutality, the GOP falls on the side of “law and order.” It is a theme that lies at the very heart of the Republican Party’s moral foundation and rhetoric.

And yet, in the case of Roy Moore and this week’s Alabama Senate race, morality has been abandoned for political expediency.

How else can you explain the president of the United States calling former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones — a man who successfully prosecuted the Birmingham bombings — “soft on crime?”

What is happening right now in Alabama illustrates everything wrong with the Republican Party and it’s a big reason why I’ve made the personal decision to leave the GOP and join the Democratic Party. The reality is there is no moral compass guiding the Republican Party. There is no leadership or courage.

In the case of Roy Moore, morality has been abandoned for political expediency.

The Republican Party would rather put in the United States Senate a person who preys on teenager girls at the local mall then a crime-fighting prosecutor who happens to be a Democrat. You can’t get more morally bankrupt than that.

Of course, given his own history as an alleged serial sexual harasser, it’s not surprising that President Donald Trump would align himself with such a deplorable candidate.

And given his stated goal to “bring everything crashing down” and to “destroy the state,” it’s even less surprising that Steve Bannon would stand by Moore.

What is most disheartening about this current moment is the overwhelming silence coming from most the Republican Party’s elected officials.

Trump is arguably the least transparent president we have ever had in the White House. The Republican Congress has passed a so-called tax reform bill that they can’t pay for and many haven’t even read. Much of the Republican Party now seems to think the Constitution consists of only the 2nd Amendment.

Before Roy Moore’s accusers came forward the former Alabama state Supreme Court judge argued against evolution, said homosexuality should be outlawed, referred to Native Americans and Asian Americas as “reds” and “yellows” and suggested America was last great during the period when slavery was legal.

What did Republicans do? They embraced him.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Moore would “proudly defend Alabama values.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) declared that he was “proud to offer my support to Judge Moore.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) signed fundraising agreements with Moore.

Silence is a form of endorsement. Silence makes you complicit. Silence is the enemy of truth.

Some of this did change when allegations of sexual misconduct began to surface. Both Cruz and Cornyn withdrew their endorsements. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), the head of the NRSC, called for the Senate to expel Moore if he were to win. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called on Moore to drop out of the race entirely.

For a few days, the GOP did the right thing. But when it began to look like Moore would win either way, they capitulated.

The RNC announced that it was back on Team Moore and would send money to the campaign. When Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked about Roy Moore a week ago, he punted and said, “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.” Meanwhile, everyone else not named Jeff Flake or Ben Sasse seem to have gone quiet or are hiding behind the voters in Alabama.

And it is this silence that has compelled me to speak out. The GOP’s silence on Roy Moore is deafening, but so is its silence on a host of other issues that Republicans refuse to acknowledge have reached national crisis levels.

Silence is a form of endorsement. Silence makes you complicit. Silence is the enemy of truth.

Remember this silence the next time a Republican tries to dictate what you can or can’t do with your body. The next time they tell you to doubt scientists. The next time they tell you what bathroom you can or can’t use. The next time they tell you racial profiling is okay. The next time they tell you guns don’t kill people. The next time they tell you who you love is immoral. The next time they tell you they are above the law.

Kurt Bardella is a political commentator and former spokesperson for Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and Breitbart News.