It’s tempting to use the analogy of rats fleeing a sinking ship when you learn about the Republican mayor of Sterling Heights, Michigan, the state’s fourth-largest city, ditching any further pretense of supporting Donald Trump and throwing his endorsement to Democrat former Vice-President Joe Biden to become the next occupant of the White House.
However, at the same time, one doesn’t want to do anything at all to discourage other fed-up members of the GOP from joining the exodus and ensuring that the nightmare of four more years of a Trump presidency becomes a dodged bullet.
Michael Taylor is the mayor in question in a city that sits in Macomb County, Michigan, one of the counties whose switch from a place where Obama garnered the majority of votes in 2012 to a solid Trump victory in 2016 helped deliver the swing state and the electoral college to the president.
Taylor himself was among those who cast his ballot for Trump in the last election, but, in an announcement that indicates even formerly ardent advocates of the president’s policies — which, as a former Tea Party darling, Taylor most certainly once was — are reaching new heights of disillusionment, he shocked fellow republicans by announcing to The Chicago Tribune that he will be casting a vote for Joe Biden in today’s Michigan primary, his first vote ever for a Democrat in a state where one needn’t be a registered party member to vote in the primaries.
The mayor explained his thought process in a tweet after The Tribune publicized his Biden endorsement.
How could I look at those three kids and tell them I'm proud to support Donald Trump? I can't. I won't. I'm voting for @JoeBiden tomorrow and endorsing him for President of the United States. I hope you'll join me. #Biden2020#MichiganPrimary https://t.co/GIA3PT5DNS
— Michael C. Taylor (@MayorMikeTaylor) March 9, 2020
“I’m not proud of my vote for him. I’m not satisfied with his leadership. I don’t think the country’s heading in the right direction. I think he’s incompetent. I think he’s divisive. I think he lacks moral character,” Mayor Taylor told The Washington Post.
“I think Joe Biden is the candidate who can unify all of the Democrats, and he’s the candidate who can appeal to moderates and Republicans like me who don’t want to see four more years of President Trump,” he told The Chicago Tribune.
Although Taylor knows that many residents of his city still support Trump because of the strong local economy — telling him that “The economy is great. It’s getting better. We’d better not mess up a good thing.” — the advent of the coronavirus outbreak has shaken the confidence of many of the suburban, middle-class families with children like his own who want to see “sanity and adult leadership in the White House,” he says.
“People want to get back to some sense of normalcy. They’ll look to Biden and say, “Things are going to go back to the way they were before,” He told The Post.
Asked what the most attractive qualities that Biden possesses that inspired his unprecedented decision to cross party lines to support him, Mayor Taylor replied:
“Leadership.The man is a high-character individual. He’s dedicated his life to public service.”
“Trump will try to paint him as corrupt and mentally deficient,” the mayor warned. “What attracts people to Biden is that he comes from a working-class background, too. He’s somebody who a lot of people can relate to. He’s had tragedy in his life. He’s able to connect with people very deeply,” Taylor concluded.
With Donald Trump seemingly only able to connect with people in their shallowest moments of fear, prejudice, and resentment, the deep connection that Biden is able to forge may help him not only to beat his rival for the Democratic nomination — with the help of dissatisfied Republican defectors — in a state where he beat Hillary Clinton in the last primary — but to put the state back in the blue column in the general election in November.
Mayor Taylor’s move is just one more indication that the public perception of Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has driven even life-long members of the GOP to abandon ship. But let’s think of them as refugees in need of resettlement rather than as rats fleeing, and offer them the kind of welcome that the Trump administration denied the real refugees who arrived at our borders.
We’re better than Trump’s policies and now’s the time to show it.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.