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Why I Left the Republican Party

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Former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Sue Wagner is not alone in her courageous decision to exit the Republican Party. Just last August, I made the same decision and resigned my position as Polk County Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chair. I immediately changed my party affiliation to Independent and later moved forward to officially switch my party affiliation to Democrat. Just as Sue Wagner said, I also stated that the Republican Party has left me. Back in 1996 when I registered to vote as a Republican and supported Robert Dole in the Iowa caucuses, I did not expect to some day welcome the opportunity to vote in the Democratic Party of Iowa caucuses, but that is precisely what I did on Tuesday, January 21 of this year.

Several reasons led me to my decision, and they're similar reasons to why Wagner says she left the GOP. Republicans misread the electorate in 2012, and I became increasingly aware that I needed a change because the GOP no longer shared my values. The Iowa GOP holds views that are increasingly out of touch and are too extreme for me, and their unwillingness to compromise is on full display every day from local, state and national Republicans.

My opinion is the "Duck Dynasty Wing" of the Republican Party has taken over the GOP, and they're not about to retreat in their war on science and common sense.

In Polk County, volunteers, activists and party leaders became more interested in saying what the far right of the party wanted to hear than doing anything to change our organization in a way that would broaden its appeal to Iowans. It got to the point that members of the party were throwing around hateful slurs and offensive remarks that made me uncomfortable. More than anything, it deterred me from the democratic process I believe so much in. In fact, it alienated me because I was not raised in a household that would accept such comments.

In the past few years, the Republican Party has been the party of subtraction. When I was younger, I saw my GOP as a big tent. I stood behind the ideals of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Eisenhower because they stood for freedom and justice for all. Now, the only thing I see Republicans embodying is a war on common sense. I am a husband and father of two little girls. As a parent, I see my children's education in a different light. I want my two babies to have the chance to receive the best education they can -- starting right from the days of preschool straight through college. GOP officeholders and candidates have been vocal about putting measures in place that are harmful to education, ranging from shutting down the Department of Education to eliminating state funded early childhood education. Not only will my children suffer from these measures, but all children will be led on the path to mediocrity. Our families deserve better.

I was very disappointed to watch how my party responded to the hateful rhetoric of Iowa's own Rep. Steve King. King has always been an embarrassment to our party, but his latest comments have permanently damaged our party's standing with Latinos and fair-minded Iowans. But what was more disappointing was that leaders of the Iowa GOP refused to stand up to him and only offered bland disapproval. The GOP was founded on the ideas of expanding the rights and freedoms of Americans, but today it seems only interested in protecting the interests of rich, white men.

I believe the 97 percent of scientists who affirm that climate change is a man-made problem. I believe we need common sense gun regulations that will help protect children and adults from deranged gunmen. I believe we have an obligation to make the United States a better place for all Americans. I'm proud of Sue Wagner for taking a stand against the extremists in the GOP. I have spoken with many who have done the same thing and who have also left the Republican Party.

Making this move was not a decision I took lightly. Yet, being a member of the GOP and a leader of the Polk County Republicans has compromised my values, and I could no longer stand behind their mission. I want to support a party that is working to move our country forward. After a lot of soul searching, I have found that there is only one party interested in that work -- the Democratic Party. While I may disagree on some of their policies, Democrats have a vision to move our country forward. I am proud I became a Democrat and work with them to grow our state and help every American reach their fullest potential.

Chad Brown Brown resigned his position as Polk County Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chair in August of 2013. Since resignation, Brown has registered as a Democrat and was elected to the Polk County Democratic Party of Iowa Central Committee in January, 2014.