By Arnold Schwarzenegger - I've been writing my memoirs recently, and looking back at how I came to my political identity has reminded me that this election cycle marks my 44th year as a Republican. I can't imagine being anything else.
That's why I am so bothered by the party's recent loss of two up-and-coming Republicans: San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, currently a state assemblyman, and former assemblyman and current Congressional candidate Anthony Adams, both of whom left the party to become independents. On the one hand, I respect their standing up for principle. On the other, I hate to see them go.
I'm sure they would have preferred to remain Republicans, but in the current climate, the extreme right wing of the party is targeting anyone who doesn't meet its strict criteria. Its new and narrow litmus test for party membership doesn't allow compromise.
I bumped up against that rigidity many times as governor. Not surprisingly, the party wasn't always too happy with me. But I had taken an oath to serve the people, not my party. Some advisors whose opinions I respect urged me to consider leaving the party and instead identify myself as a "decline to state" voter. But I'm too stubborn to leave a party I believe in.
It's time for the Republicans who are so bent on enforcing conformity to ask themselves a question: What would Ronald Reagan have done? He worked hard to maintain a welcoming, open and diverse Republican Party. He would have been appalled to see Republicans like Fletcher and Adams conclude that they had no other option than to leave the party.
We need to remind the Republicans who want to enforce ideological purity that if they succeed, they will undo Reagan's work to create an inclusive party that could fit many different views.
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