Republican Bob Orr is headlining an event for Congressional candidate Dan McCready along with Democrats Jim Hunt and Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles. The GOP immediately condemned him. Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said he’s “detested within our party…He’s as revolting of a political figure as you can have.” Woodhouse’s comments are more a reflection of what has happened to the Republican Party under Donald Trump than anything that’s happened to Bob Orr.

Orr was a North Carolina Supreme Court Justice and former Republican candidate for governor who has been widely respected for his service and his legal mind. In 2016, he chaired Ohio Governor John Kasich’s presidential campaign in North Carolina. He’s a traditional conservative who understands Donald Trump’s threat to our democracy.

Orr says he’s supporting McCready because “we need the kind of constructive leadership and perspective that Dan will provide.” McCready was recently described as a Democrat who “sounds like a Republican.” In reality, McCready sounds more like the pragmatic centrists who dominated both parties in North Carolina until very recently.  McCready’s views probably are closer to Orr’s than those of Republican nominee Mark Harris, a preacher who has wrapped himself around Donald Trump.

Orr probably also sees McCready as the type of leader we need to check Donald Trump. The Republicans in Congress certainly aren’t willing to. They’ve sat silently as the president attacks the leaders of liberal democracies while praising brutal dictators. Trump’s sided with Putin over his own intelligence community and, yesterday, GOP Members of Congress seem prepared to defend the president against any finding of the Mueller probe that might be damaging.

Until recently, the GOP had plenty of people whose integrity and views matched those of Bob Orr. They were the mountain Republicans like Gov. Jim Holshouser who stayed part of the GOP after the Civil War. They’re advocates of small government, free markets and personal responsibility. There aren’t many of them left.

There’s a reason the modern Republican Party attracts the likes of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon David Duke and Russell Walker, the Republican nominee for NC House District 48 who says God is a white supremacist and Jews are descended from Satan. The GOP’s policies like voter suppression laws, locking up immigrant families, banning Muslims, sanctioning LGBT discrimination and usurping the power of local governments appeals to them. The Republican Party has become the party of Trump, dominated by populists who harbor racists tendencies and authoritarian instincts.

I suspect Bob Orr is part of a minority of Republicans who believe Trump’s unchecked rhetoric, demeanor and admiration of authoritarians is more of a threat to our country than a Democratic Congress that might thwart some of the president’s worst decisions. Our country is in a crisis right now. Too many Republicans are in denial. Today, we need more people like Bob Orr who will stand up for the principles that make our country great instead people who will blindly follow their tribe.


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