John McKager “Mac” Stipanovich, a lifelong GOP operative, spoke with FloridaPolitics this week over his thoughts about the Trump presidency and how he feels about his party bowing down to Donald Trump.
Stipanovich did not hold back when calling out Trump and the Republicans who have enabled him.
“When I say I have Trump Derangement Syndrome I mean it literally,” Stipanovich said. “I admit it freely; it is an ever-present, influential factor in my daily life. He’s literally changed my life. I thought he was a damn fool before he ever ran for President. I was a Never-Trumper from the moment he descended from on high on his golden escalator and I have not wavered since. He has confirmed my worst expectations — and then some.”
He went on to call it a “unique moment in American history” where the country’s own leader is a threat.
“And I do consider him to be an existential threat to American democracy,” he explained. “He attacks the very concept of truth. The idea that there’s no truth, that we have no shared epistemological framework as a people — that there are literally at least two entirely different realities where we can’t even describe what happened and understand each other when we speak even though we speak the same language — is very dangerous, very dangerous.”
Calling Trump “dangerous” and “frightening,” Stipanovich said the president is “the ultimate con man” and “carnival barker.”
“It’s just amazing how many rubes there are in the country,” he explained.
Stipanovich explained that he’s stayed silent because he was required to by his employer, but he can’t take it anymore, so he decided to retire instead.
“This derangement syndrome has cost me friends, lifetime friends. It has cost me money. And ultimately, because a business can’t have somebody offending a substantial number of their clients, it cost me a job,” he told FloridaPolitics. “My law firm does not want me giving interviews and writing op-ed pieces, tearing into Trump, tearing into congressional Republicans, tearing into Republicans in Tallahassee. It’s bad for business, but I can’t not do it. So, it’s better for me to retire.”
He explained that he joined the GOP in 1983 in the throws of Ronald Regan’s presidency, but he’s always been aware of worst of the Republican Party.
“There’s always been a nasty underbelly in the Republican Party since World II. Basically, a virulent strain of right-wing populism, beginning with John Birchers who thought Dwight Eisenhower was a communist to the Trump people today who think that John McCain was a traitor,” Stipanovich said. “They’ve been movement conservatives, they were Tea Party people. And now they’re Trump people. The Trump party now is isolationist. It is protectionist. It is nativist. It is xenophobic. And it is so far from a shining city on the hill that it’s hard to remember that’s what we used to stand for — and I can’t stand it. That progressed over time. As I said, there was always roughly 20 to 30%, maybe a little more, of the Republican primary vote that were right-wing nuts.”
The transition from an industrial economy to a service economy has resulted in “increasing economic dislocations and distress,” he said. That along with the “browning of America, which was exacerbated by the Obama presidency” has only fueled the fire.
“White fright increased exponentially until it is probably the dominant feature of Trump Republican Party today,” Stipanovich explained. “What had been a relatively stable minority in the Republican Party metastasized. And it became this majority. Trump’s genius was that he recognized the rot in the Republican Party. He didn’t transform the Republican Party, he reveled it. He could have gone the way of Ross Perot or George Wallace and had a third-party candidacy and been defeated. But his genius was to commandeer the party of Ronald Reagan. Which obviously I have not gotten over yet. And I’m unlikely to get over.”
Stipanovich said he doesn’t believe that the GOP will return to normalcy while Trump is in charge.
“All I know is he’s got to go and then we’ll sort it out after that,” he said. “I don’t know how long it would take for the Republican Party to recover from Trump, if it ever will. Because I think Trump is as much an effect as he is a cause. There was something wrong with the Republican Party, and there is still something wrong with the Republican Party.”
The Republican operative closed by comparing the fight against Trump to the first great war the world faced.
“I remember reading some history a long time ago about a French order of the day issued at the beginning of World War I when the French offensive on the Rhine failed,” he closed. “The Germans were rushing toward Paris in the west, shattered French units were streaming back. And the order the day was: ‘Stop where you are, dig in and fight.’ And that’s what I’m doing.”
You can read the entire interview HERE.