When President Obama took office in 2009, the right quickly responded. The launch of the Tea Party movement gave a voice to those dissatisfied with his election. But this movement was not solely rooted in political ideology: it created an atmosphere where racial hatred was not merely simmering under the surface. These beliefs were now spoken aloud at rallies.
People all across the nation were energized by this faux populist movement. We know now that the creation of this movement was anything but a spontaneous grass-roots response to a politician. Current analysis indicates that:
‘In successive phases in the 1990s, with the Kochs’ CSE [Citizens for a Sound Economy, a think-tank] as its core mobilization network partner, Philip Morris and RJR [two tobacco companies] helped create state-based anti-tax and anti-regulation propaganda campaigns.’
This was the framework that buttressed the Tea Party movement.
‘According to publicly available IRS records, the five essential pillars of just such a Tea Party movement network were all funded and in place by that spring of 2009—the Sam Adams Alliance to direct grassroots efforts; the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity to direct propaganda efforts in state capitals across the United States; the State Policy Network to coordinate funding and free-market policies at state-based think tanks; hundreds of grants from the Koch foundations to American universities that were linked in through SPN; and, of course, CSE’s successor, Americans for Prosperity, built to coordinate the effort nationally.’
Most of these were funded by large donors, not individuals. So the next part of the plan was to give the Tea Party movement a veneer of populism.
In order to appeal to the people, the GOP began to identify the politicians that would be the faces of this new brand of conservatism. One of these personalities was Brandon DeFrain. He was elected the chairman of the Bay County Republican Party in 2014.
In 2016, he was interviewed by the Today Show. He took this opportunity to explain his support for Donald Trump:
After Trump’s election, he tweeted:
— Brandon DeFrain (@brandon_defrain) November 10, 2016
In February 2017, DeFrain was still on the Trump train, according to this interview with The Detroit News:
‘“I see people from all sides of the aisle wanting to come together,” he said. “They definitely were captivated by his message. It just hasn’t died down since the election.”’
But now, in light of the disastrous first year of the Trump administration, he is immediately stepping down from his position as GOP chair of Michigan’s Bay County, he’s completely abandoning the whole Republican Party.
What could possibly compel a rising star of the Republican Party to make an abrupt decision like this? In his Facebook post outlining his decision (screen capped by M Live), DeFrain cited:
‘More racism in our streets, more people feeling as if their human and civil rights are being violated, more drug overdoses and more people feeling tormented and discriminated against because of who they worship and who they love. I’m tired of attempting to defend a machine that does not defend people I love.’
This assertion is supported by facts: according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes reached a five-year high in 2016.
DeFrain went on to directly address Trump’s performance as president:
‘I do not support the actions coming from the White House.’
Encouragingly, there was an outpouring of support for DeFrain on Twitter after he made his announcement:
A rare backbone sighting in the GOP: In Michigan, Bay County Republican Chairman Brandon DeFrain resigned, arguing racism and hatred on the rise after Donald Trump was elected. A side effect of having a white supremacist as president. #Impeach #TrumpResignhttps://t.co/19RYHnuHbd
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 13, 2018
Dude, I don’t know who you are, I never heard of you before today, but I want to thank you for being a real man in a party that is largely absent of them. I am proud you are of the same species. I will remember YOUR name Brandon DeFrain. I expect we will be hearing from you again https://t.co/P0lJYEbaQS
— lois mcdade (@irishgilly) February 13, 2018
Well, I have to say I'm proud of DeFrain. A man taking responsibility of his party's actions. At least now Dems will have enough respect for u to listen if you do decide to run. At least you have a heart
— Westgate Park (@WPManor) February 13, 2018
— Sass Mouth (@laurahornshaw) February 13, 2018
As usual, there has been no response from Trump. But we do know how he feels about loyalty:
Disloyal R's are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
Featured image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images