This morning on twitter, I saw a group called TURN, Triangle Urban Republican Network, is having a meet up on Tuesday at 6pm at Tapworks in Raleigh. TURN describes itself as “A group for thinking Republicans, moderates, Libertarian leaners, independents, and anyone else who who wants reasonable discussion of Republican politics.” I certainly won’t be there, but I hope they’re successful. We need center-right party that espouses limited government and fiscal responsibility to provide balance in our political system.

Nothing’s been more disturbing than watching the GOP embrace a right-wing populism that plays on the fear and prejudices of Americans who are losing their way of life. They’ve shifted from the party of ideas that celebrated individualism and the free markets during the Reagan era to one that cheers authoritarianism and uses bigotry as a campaign tool. And here in North Carolina, our GOP has led the way. As I’ve said before, North Carolina’s Republicans embraced Trumpism before Trump.

The GOP fooled itself into believing that it could woo the white working class voters who opposed the Civil Rights movement while maintaining its core conservative principles. They used dog whistles to attract their new base and used resentment as a campaign tool. In the wake of the Great Recession, when too many Americans lost too much, the GOP provided scapegoats by conflating anti-immigrant sentiment based in racism with the need for immigration reform. Donald Trump built a movement around it.

In North Carolina, Republicans tried to use homophobia to divide the state by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban marriage equality. They overrode a local ordinance by passing HB2 in a failed attempt to rile their base against the LGBT community. And in the wake of a massacre of African-Americans in a Charleston church, they passed a law preventing the removal of Confederate monuments from government property.

Let me be clear about a few things. Supporting immigration reform that strengthens our borders and limits people coming into our country is not racist. Demonizing immigrants who come to this country seeking a better life and fearmongering is. Support for Confederate memorials is not inherently racist. Insisting that all monuments stay in prominent places on public property shows an incredible lack of respect for the people whose ancestors were enslaved, especially when a majority of the people in a county or municipality want them gone.

I’ll cheer TURN but I’ll argue with them and criticize them, too. I’m sure I disagree with most of their positions, but I don’t consider them a threat to our democracy or the republic. The party of Trump is. I hope any moderate Republicans will go their meet up or support other like-minded organizations for the sake of the republic.

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