In the wake of the failed but still deadly MAGA coup on Wednesday, the Republican party has been in tatters. Those who’ve long supported outgoing president (and social media pariah) Donald J. Trump, or remained silent as he shredded norms, have been jumping ship, suddenly welcoming his successor, Joe Biden, with open arms. One prominent Republican who’s never been fond of Trump — quite the opposite, in fact — is Colin Powell, former secretary of state during George W. Bush’s first term. On Sunday, a visibly vexed Powell went on CNN to announce he was finally done with his longtime party.
Powell was speaking to host Fareed Zakaria, who asked him, bluntly, about the state of the GOP, who have “refused to condemn him,” who have cozied up to him, and allowed the horrors that erupted on Wednesday to grow.
“They did and that’s why I can no longer call myself a fellow Republican,” Powell replied. He continued:
I’m not a fellow of anything right now. I’m just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I’m just watching my country and not concerned with parties. I do not know how he’s able to attract all these people. They should’ve known better. But they were so taken by their political standing and how none of them wanted to put themselves at political risk, they would not stand up and tell the truth or stand up and criticize him or criticize others. And that’s what we need: We need people who will speak the truth, who will remember that we are here for our fellow citizens, they are here for our country. They are not here simply to be re-elected again. Come on, guys, you can make it in private life if you don’t get re-elected. But right now we need you to be real Americans who we can trust, who will tell the truth, who will argue on the basis of facts and not just argue on the basis of what their primary looks like.
Powell has been critical of Trump from the very start and, as someone who’s been more or less out of politics for the last 15 years, he never had worry about enraging him or his base to keep a job. Still, he’s clearly not sympathetic to those who did just that, and especially those, like Ted Cruz and Matt Gaetz, who contributed to his misinformation about voter fraud, which led to the violence seen on Wednesday.
Of course, it’s not like Powell has exactly been in lockstep with his now formally former party.
No one has gotten more attention for not being a Republican anymore than Colin Powell has.
He has has voted for and publicly endorsed Democrats for 12 years and every time he speaks it's treated as some major news.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 10, 2021
I suspect Colin Powell has felt this way for much longer than anyone realizes. https://t.co/oNzapc8N4n
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) January 10, 2021
(Colin Powell hasn't been a Republican in well over a decade)
— Drew Savicki 🦖🦕🦖 (@SenhorRaposa) January 10, 2021
Colin Powell hasn’t been a Republican since before 2008. He didn’t support McCain or Romney. Hard to take him seriously now… https://t.co/h8nWYb2R9X
— kaitlin, holy RINO batman (@thefactualprep) January 10, 2021
Maybe that’s why he’s one of the most respected people who, until the other day, called himself a Republican.
Colin Powell is arguably the most widely-respected living Republican. He just announced on CNN that he is no longer a member of the Republican Party.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) January 10, 2021
There was a lot of “welcome to the resistance” talk.
Welcome to the resistance Colin Powell. https://t.co/qyP1KbfhfS
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) January 10, 2021
And, inevitably, there were reminders that Powell played a key role in the misinformation campaign that erroneously got America into the Iraq War almost two decades ago.
How ironic hearing Colin Powell on Fareed Zakaria’s show talking about Trump: “There must be accountability for people who have done things that are wrong.” Uh—what about YOU being held accountable for lying us into a devastating war with Iraq????
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) January 10, 2021