At age 75, conservative newspaper columnist George Will is leaving the GOP, according to CNN. In a Fox News Sunday television appearance, Will, who is a frequent contributor to Fox News, said that he is leaving the party that he has belonged to for over 50 years because of Donald Trump, and has changed to an “unaffiliated” status on his voter registration. Will stated,”after Trump went after the ‘Mexican’ judge from northern Indiana then (House Speaker) Paul Ryan endorsed him, I decided that in fact this was not my party anymore.”
Will is a respected journalist known for his Newsweek, National Review, and Washington Post columns that combine elegant writing, hard facts, and conservative commentary. He is also a Pulitzer Prize winning author and has written three books on political philosophy. “I joined it (the GOP) because I was a conservative, and I leave it for the same reason: I’m a conservative,” Will said. Will, who has been outwardly critical of Trump and who has called him “a real amateur in politics” went on to say that Trump as president with a Republican-led Congress is a worse fate than Clinton as president with a Republican-led Congress. Will has called for fellow Republicans to “make sure he (Trump) loses”. Trump responded via Twitter, saying that George Will is “one of the most overrated political pundits (who lost his way long ago)”.
But what effect does Will’s announcement really have? Will is very respected in the establishment GOP, so many are awaiting the aftermath of Will’s decision. While many conservatives have been openly critical of Trump, and others have even said they will not vote in the upcoming election, or vote for Hillary Clinton, very few conservatives have yet to go as far as Will has by leaving the GOP. A notable exception is longtime Republican strategist Mary Matalin, who changed her affiliation to Libertarian–well before George Will did–shortly after the Indiana primary, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Others say that Will’s decision is a mere ripple on the pond, as George Will is representative of the establishment conservatives that many in the “new GOP” want out of the party. The establishment blames Trump for policies that have been in the making over the last eight years, long before Trump was even a blip on the political horizon. Staunch establishment Republicans view the current candidacy as the “shattering of a great party”, but critics say that Trump is the “fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades” and that Will should have seen it coming.