'Morning Joe' Host Joe Scarborough's Big Announcement Reminds Us That Some Things Are Bigger Than Political Parties

"I’m not going to be a Republican anymore."

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinksi, hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday night. According to Adweek, the hosts' appearance gave Colbert his best ratings in two months, possibly because, earlier in the evening, the show had teased Scarborough's announcement that he is leaving the Republican Party.

The conversation began when Colbert pointed out that the hosts had changed their opinion of President Donald Trump — a shift which came to a head last month when Trump posted a string of insulting tweets about them. The hosts, who announced their engagement earlier this year, went on to pen an op-ed for the Washington Post in which they questioned Trump's fitness to be president.


Colbert asked Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, why he thought other Republicans have been slow to reject Trump's controversial policies and behavior. The host called it "inexplicable," and went on to share that he thinks many Republicans have "betrayed their core values."

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski arrive at the White House Corespondents Association Dinner on April 25, 2015. Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

Scarborough mentioned his party's silence on issues such as Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the country, his refusal to condemn David Duke of the KKK, and his claim that a federal judge couldn't be fair because of his Mexican heritage — all of which were brought up before the election. "You have to ask yourself, what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do? How far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?"

At this point, Colbert asked Scarborough, "But aren't you a Republican?"

"I am a Republican, but I'm not gonna be a Republican anymore," Scarborough told him. "I've got to become an independent." His announcement earned applause from the audience.

Scarborough acknowledged that he still agrees with many Republican stances. "I want lower taxes," he said, "I want less regulations, I want a more competitive economy, I want the government taking less money from me. But not at this price."

Although Scarborough expressed disappointment over many Republicans' continued refusal to speak out against the current administration, there are others who have made the same decision to leave the party behind. Last year, HuffPost shared that several conservative politicians had registered as independents or become unaffiliated, even before Trump was elected.

That includes Iowa state Sen. David Johnson, who told the publication he hoped other members of the GOP would follow suit. "It's not enough to say ... 'I believe that what he said was inappropriate' or perhaps a stronger condemnations, which they don't often do," he said. "What I'm looking for are elected officials who are willing to change their vote of registration to independent."

A Pew report released earlier this year also found that nearly a quarter of Republicans under 30 had shifted to the Democratic party since December 2015. These choices, like Scarborough's, may not have an enormous impact in the short term, but they're an important reminder that some things are more important than sticking to party lines.


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