Although the Republican Party controls both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, it still faces the same identity crisis that divided the party during the 2016 primary. Small government Republicans, as well as mainstream moderates, continue to oppose President Trump’s populism, as they did two years ago. Joe Scarborough represents one of those segments – one that never that hasn’t accepted the Trumpkin takeover of the Grand Old Party establishment.
Joe Scarborough says the GOP betrayed its core values by refusing to condemn a laundry list of controversial statements that Donald Trump has made over the past two years. Trump repeatedly crossed the line. Yet he was never confronted by the Republican party for doing so. Scarborough listed some of the most egregious examples as examples of the GOP turning a blind eye to what he sees as unacceptable rhetoric.
Following that airing of grievances, Stephen Colbert was left wondering what that meant for the Morning Joe host’s political identification. Joe Scarborough replied in a reluctant manner that while he was a Republican, he is “not going to be a Republican anymore” and would “become an independent.” On one level, this is a major departure given that Scarborough was a four-term Republican Congressman from Florida before entering journalism.
On the other hand, many point out that Scarborough leaving the Republican Party comes a little late. He gave extensive and extremely favorable coverage for Donald Trump in the lead-up to the Republican primary. Although Scarborough doesn’t see it as positive, Morning Joe did give an inordinate amount of air time to Trump as compared to other candidates.
If Scarborough’s party registration was ever a barrier to criticizing the GOP before, it won’t be any longer. As an independent he will have even freer reign to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire.