“We didn’t leave our party. It left us.”

Back in 1984 when I was running for Congress, I ran into older people who explained why they could not support me, saying, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.”

Even in those days, the Democratic Party still had many conservatives who were loyal adherents. They had grown up in the times when the Democratic Party was more conservative than the other party. Some of those older Democrats were slow to give up their heritage and break away from the group in which they grew up.

But as the support in the Democratic Party for school desegregation, voting rights, Civil Rights, equal treatment in the workplace, and expanding the role of government in providing public resources to meet the needs of poor and underserved communities were viewed with skepticism by once loyal Democrats.

Republicans responded with a “southern strategy” that played to these concerns and, more and more, as time passed, former Democrats left their party. “I didn’t leave my party. It left me.”

Even after more than 35 years I remember that refrain.

Today, in the age of Trump, some North Carolina Republicans are, with regret, leaving their party, explaining, “I didn’t leave my party. It left me.”

In the Aug. 24 edition of The New Yorker, Peter Slevin wrote about three Republican members of the Transylvania board of commissioners who have given up their party affiliation.

Forgive this personal aside. One of the happiest summers of my life was spent in that mountain county in 1958 when I was a counselor at Camp Carolina near Brevard. On overnight hikes I told my campers ghost stories about Dracula. I had them believing that there was a connection between Dracula’s home in Europe’s Transylvania region and the Transylvania County where they were camping.

The three commissioners party change began when the commission’s chair, Mike Hawkins, heard about President Donald Trump’s speech at East Carolina University on July 17, 2019. The president attacked four Democratic congressional representatives and women of color, saying that they were “hate-filled extremists” and “You know, they don’t love our country.”

In response to the president’s attack on Representative Ilhan Omar, the crowd at ECU chanted, “Send her back!”

According to Slevin, at the next board meeting, Hawkins “called out the president saying that what happened was racist. It’s important that people identify hate for what it is – a poison to our state and to our country. And I wanted to say in a very public way that for whatever time I have remaining as an elected official, I will oppose this poison every way I can.”

After Hawkins, two other Republicans on the board, Page Ives Lemel and W. David Guice, offered words of support. Five months later, all three resigned from the Republican Party.

They could have been saying, “We didn’t leave our party. It left us.”

Guice had been a longtime active Republican and served two terms in the General Assembly.

Page Lemel owns and runs Camp Keystone near Brevard, as did her late father, Bill Ives, whom I knew when he served in the General Assembly in the 1990s. Bill Ives was conservative, public-spirited, open-minded and open-hearted, like his daughter.

Another prominent Republican in the mountains, former North Carolina State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, has broken with the president. He spent his life supporting the party and working for good causes until 2016 when he could not support Trump’s candidacy.

This year he is working hard against Trump, but refuses to leave his party. Obviously, he thinks he is more of a real Republican than the president.

Lemel says she has no intention of reversing her decision. “That,” Slevin writes, “raises questions about the future of the G.O.P. History and logic suggest that the Party must pivot toward the center to remain viable in the years ahead.”

Or others will be saying, “We didn’t leave our party. It left us.”

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch” on UNC-TV.

(46) comments

David Collins

People switch parties all the time , so now it is some kind of a big deal ? Oh , forgot . After all it is Chapel Hill the east coast suburb of San Francisco .


In fact gropenfuher trump was a life long democrat, so yes ppl do switch parties. The practice of some to disparage the location of ppls residences, or suggest there is something in the water, that is just a rather feeble attempt to disparage the person, rather then refute an idea. Suggesting that someone should leave the country, esp a vet, because they disagree is downright shameful. Any objective person can see that the GOP needs a bigger tent, and a platform other then trumpism, or its doomed . The orange koolaid must have been extra strong this week?

Carol Hartsoe

Kudos to the writer of this article. It's encouraging to know there are Republicans who stand up to Trump and instead of being bedazzled by him are loyal to what's right for our country instead of having misguided loyalty to party. I hope for more Republicans to grow a conscience. And soon.


Joe: Psst...Hey Jill, am I president yet?

Jill: No Joe, Go back to Sleep. I'll let you know when the numbers are in.


Another good one, David.

First, Mr Martin, thank you for your service as a Green Beret.

Second, I think it may be time for you and Omar to leave the party and the country.

David Collins

Not meant to be a zinger , just so obvious , especially when one considers the source . A town chock full of highly intelligent elites that purport to know a little bit more than the average Bear .



The first mass exodus from the democratic party is the “Never Biden” movement that vows not to vote for Joe. “I can’t vote for Joe Biden,” said Bryan Quinby, a left-wing podcaster in Ohio, saying that “it feels like the party doesn’t want us”.

The rationale for us is that our votes need to be earned and that we’ve been taken for granted by the democratic party, and the party never moves to us,” said Alyson Metzger, a 54-year-old writer in New York City.

Cathy Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago who studies black youths’ political views, summed up this attitude: They’ve seen the election of Black Democratic Mayors, they’ve seen the election of the first Black Democratic President, and they’ve also seen that their lives have not changed. They feel black democrats have left them.

The recent endorsement of Trump’s reelection by the prominent Louisiana Democrat Vernon Jones is one indicator that democrats are leaving the party in droves.

The second mass exodus from the Democratic Party is coming from the hashtag #WalkAway movement. This is a movement founded by Brandon Straka, who is a gay hairdresser and once a liberal.

The third major trend we are seeing is a comparable movement known as Blexit, a term that signifies Black Americans declaring their independence from the Democratic Party.

“It is with deep regret that I announce my inability to serve any longer on the Washington Parish Democratic Executive Committee and my leaving of the Democratic Party after being a member for 30 years”, said Perry Talley, Bogalusa. LA . “The Democratic Party takes part in race baiting, fear mongering, misinformation, and other unscrupulous practices that literally make me sick to my stomach”.

With the tactics of the Democrats, cultural Marxists, social justice warriors and the cancel culture of looking for any “ism” to attack, the #WalkAway from the Democrat party movement grows stronger and larger every day. Keep walking or running away. Patty Jenkins, New Castle NCMedia

And so, while the mainstream media would have you think that the world is turning away from President Trump, these trends actually suggest the opposite.

Despite the wishful thinking so prevalent among the left-wing activists disguised as journalists, the Democrats are actually hemorrhaging major constituents in their traditional voting bloc. Put these three groups together, you have the makings of a disastrous 2020 for the Democrats!

I agree with Carol, it’s good to know there are Democrats standing up to Biden, Pelosi, Shiff and Schumer, etc….


Wishful thinking indeed, citing 5 or 6 individuals and or groups in a country of 330 million as a trend.Cant say i am impressed with that ... survey sez: let's see what the popular vote is in nov. If unlikeable hrc can beat trumpby 3 mill, Joe biden who is very likeable, should whup trump by 5 million plus.

Latest poll that I found credible showed the majority of Americans think both our options are unfit to be potus. Well 3 options since the genius kushner got Kanye in there as a spoiler. How's that working out?


Well, drew, you agreed with Martin when he only gave 4 or 5 sources for leaving the Republican party. Sorry you don't like the same dance.


The Democrat Party has left the country & gone in a direction of darkness. Hopefully the country will leave that crazy party behind to die for lack of sunlight.

Anybody who supports an Omar or the party who accepts her must hate the country like she does or they have a serious head problem.


You know what they say about assuming jeep, I dont just jump in with apocalyptic declarations, I do a lil research on what is said, ponder it ,and they speak. in this case. Gallup. As of May 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 40% as Independent. If you look back over the numbers, independants are the fastest growing party, However republican numbers are falling faster then dem numbers. that suggests to me that ppl are tired of the far left and far right, and are choosing independent as a more centrist option/affiliation. The fact that gop numbers are falling faster suggests to me that the author is correct, and your assumptions of a mass exodus from dnc to gop are incorrect.


Or drewski, if you would just research more than one source......

“Governing Magazine” which has a left of center bias in reporting say:

“GOP holds voter-registration advantage in races for governor and president”.

“More people are registering as Republicans than Democrats in states with gubernatorial elections this year and in some 2020 battleground states. Democrats still have the lead in local elections.”

As old Democrats are dying off, their replacements identify more as Republicans, says John Couvillon, a pollster and consultant in Louisiana. Even as those old people identify as Democrats, but voted Republican, the generation that’s replacing them is Republican in fact and in registration.

Only 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, register voters by party.The number of people registering with parties or declaring themselves independent continues to rise.


“As old Democrats are dying off, their replacements identify more as Republicans,” says John Couvillon, a GOP pollster and consultant in Louisiana Gee, jeep did you deliberately cut the" GOP" pollster out of that quote? That makes everything you quote suspect ya know.

I don't doubt a surge of republican registrations, the fear mongering coming from the white house I am sure has its intended effect, After all some ppl really do believe that an angry brown mob is coming to the suburbs to assault grandma in her bed, and Joe Biden is leading the charge with a torch, KAMMILLLA Harris just finished a child sacrifice to invoke SATAN. Details on tucker carlson tonight.


Man, drew, for having a full-time job you are on here a lot. I do enjoy debating you. Cheers!


Here's one you won't like either, drew!

On Spetember 10, Texans and Chiefs stayed in their locker rooms during their first NFL game. Fans Booed when they came onto the field, After the National anthem played.

Why don’t we Stop playing the national anthem for these overpaid, mostly uneducated, spoiled millionaires?

Nice touch losing your fan base because you shove your political opines in our faces and now pretending not to understand our rejections. I say defund the NFL by not attending games. Include the other sports as well.

Stop injecting politics into a game. Play the game on the field and leave the virtue signaling to your own personal time. Using stadiums and arenas as a political platform is ridiculous

If America is such an awful place, go play in ANY other country and see how much they pay you.


You did not answer if you deleted the "gop" out of that quote jeep. Again you assume that I care if NFL players are booed. I don't . At the end of the day being a great professional athlete is a nice individual accomplishment, perhaps it leads to vast sums of money or endorsement contracts selling overpriced sneakers to the masses. It has zero effect on my life. I would rather do just about anything productive, then sit and watch other people play sports. If the whole professional sports thing collapses due to politics, I just don't care. In my world now that fall is here its time for compost, firewood,and cider, maybe some axe throwing if I feel the need to be " sporty"


And the answer is Yes.


Guess I’m just a lying dog-faced pony soldier that belongs to Trump’s cult.

I’m also a registered republican voter in Carteret County, but I will not vote for Thom Tillis.

David Collins

The parallel of today’s professional sports and the blood sport games the Romans held in the Coliseum is interesting . All designed to provide distraction for the masses from a decaying society .


Every time Biden walks out of his house to speak, he ambushes himself.


At the risk of supporting imperfection & peace versus revenge & something resembling anti-American warlike domestic forces & purposefully & unrecognized peace-making only because who the the peacemaker is. So, let's honestly admit this peace-making president's record compared to his self-declared enemies. Four years of fewer beheadings & high numbers of Americans shedding blood over many years in the blood-soaked sands of the Middle East. Real peace-making efforts & results with zero recognition from the D media complex formerly known as the mainstream media. What's worse is the D Party has created a domestic uncontrolled monster which even if they regain power will go after them with as much viciousness as it has the D Party's "evil" opposition which has been & could very well be the only obstacle to this country's evident & eventual destruction. So, vote for the "Harris-Biden ticket of destruction" to expedite the process.


Like nafta renamed, the current mid east peace deal is a nothing burger with a side of trump sauce. 2 "tame" states that already do lots of business ith Israel agree to make it formal.. meanwhile the major players have clearly said NO to lil jared's overtures. Meanwhile trump beats the panic drum, antifa, socialism. They are stealing your vote. They will take your guns, biden will personally take your granny's teeth and sell them to give money to blm. Fear not, if biden wins faux news will go on a mind bending crusade, condemning him and the dems all day and all night. VOTE sanity - Vote Biden.


Sanity? Since when? Your crowd did a better job in the ME?


I agree with AG Barr who said state-issued coronavirus lockdown orders are only surpassed  by slavery as a historic intrusion on civil liberties.


jeep you should look at the 1918 pandemic, quite interesting and scarily similar to today, people refusing masks based on their rights. I suppose everyone is entitled to their beliefs, the earth is flat, vaccines are evil, joe biden has bigfoot in his basement. trump is a good thing for america.AG barr is not a danger to a free society, What ever crazy thing you need to believe. Typhoid mary is another interesting subject, locked away cause she wouldn't follow public health orders.


drew, Biden, this week, said if Trump had done his job, not one single person would have died from Covid-19. Surely, even you don't believe this statement.

Even the Washington Post and NY Times called Biden out for lying.

Just another example of Biden getting carried away while talking and letting the lies fly.


yes Biden did say that. I make a distinction between lying, and mis-speaking. So are we approaching 200,000 dead from covid, or as some like to say / need to beleive " they were sick anyway so its not covid that killed them" if we accept that some ppl have in fact died, how many of them would not have died if trump and fox news had taken a different approach? hmmmm. As I have already said Joe biden is no giant prize, as i believe mr collins said several months ago on a different thread, In a country of 330 million these 2 choices is the best we can come up with? Sadly it comes down to who is more unfit and to me trump is a dangerous demagogue who divides the country, lies like a rug and would say or do anything to remain in power. So Biden despite his many faults in LESS unfit then trump. thats not a terribly high bar i know.


Whether you vote for a Harris-Biden or a Biden-Harris ticket you're voting for a bad joke.

David Collins

Interesting Mr drewski , that you predict that the conservatives will do exactly what the left has been doing since November of 2016 . Welllll , suppose it is possible due to observing how the left has honed that type of behavior into a fine art . Hope not .


Finely honed by the left? I am honest enough to admit both sides are guilty of partisen gaslighting. 2008 Hannity said that President Barack Obama’s "willingness to meet with North Korea is one of the most disturbing displays of Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience." But in 2018, Hannity said President Donald Trump’s "willingness to meet with North Korea is a huge foreign policy win."

Don't let actual quotes or facts sway you. Biden bad trump good. Hannity want a cracker?


Don't let facts sway you? Right!

David Collins

Drewski , Obama was willing to give away the farm to give the impression of advancing relations with the Hermit Kingdom . Trump advances with caution ,trust the words but verify . NOKO is not worthy of anyone’s version of trust . Sooner than later , Boom . Just like Iran . Stay tuned .


Is there a verifiable example of what portion of the farm Obama was going to give to North korea? Or are nebulous accusations enough?


Again, merely saying something does not make it true, A busy person such as myself, searching for what specific items obama exported to N korea such as food. All I could find was sanctions, not shipping. So if you have a specific example you could cite?? IE: 30 million tons of soybeans arrives in N korea?

Obama-era sanctions included a blanket trade and investment ban, and freezing of North Korean government property within the U.S. In 2016, the administration also introduced individual sanctions against specific North Korean officials associated with "serious human rights abuses and censorship." North Koreans on the blacklist, including Kim, had their assets frozen and were additionally barred from transactions with American citizens.


Obama administration adopted a "strategic patience" policy toward North Korea.

Silence is acceptance!

David Collins

Bush , Clinton and Obama fell for the old bait and switch game with NOKO PROMISING TO HAULT NUCLEAR THIS AND THAT IN EXCHANGE FOR FOOD AND OTHER GOODS OLNLY TO BEGAIN ANEW IN ANOTHER AREA . a trick little Kim learned from his father . so far , Trump has resisted taking the bait . This has been reported before and is no secret and easy to find . Even for a busy person as yourself .

David Collins

For some reason my reply failed to post but basically it came to giving away “public treasure” , another term for taxpayer money , just like Bush the younger and Clinton did to appease , kicking the can down the road .

Little Kim gleaned this ruse from his Father and it worked .

David Collins

By golly , it appeared . Must be Russian meddling , again .


I've had the same thing happen to me 2 times, David, with post showing up 2 days later. Weird. Thought I forgot to hit the "post comment" button.


2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had another gaffe on Sunday when he said an estimated 200 million people have already died from the coronavirus, even though the number of American casualties is closer to 200,000.

David Collins

The question is , did they die with the virus or from the virus ? Some say it doesn’t matter but it does . Food for irrational hysteria and the usual calls for someone , anyone , just do something . Music to a politician’s ears . After all, we still have Ebola , Tuberculosis , SARS and the people’s favorite the common cold .


It does make a big difference in how people died. I suspect many doctor's just put Covid on death certificate. Not everyone has an autopsy.

I know it's a very, very serious pandemic, but I bet there's some fuzzy math going on.

David Collins

Hey , what’s a few zeros to a guy like Joe ?


That would be good for Joe, if he wins. 2 million dead means 2/3 of the country, so he wouldn't have to worry about unemployment. Plenty of jobs to go around.


On Sept. 19, 2020, Trump said at a rally in North Carolina, "You can't have this guy [Biden] as your president ... Maybe I'll sign an executive order, 'You cannot have him as your president.'"

David Collins

Trump was correct . It will be Harris , Pelosi and Schumer .

Welcome to the discussion.

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