For many years, I voted Republican. I was an Ultra-MAGA, four-time Donald Trump voter (twice in the primaries, and twice in the general elections). I voted for Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial primary and general elections. I was a right-wing pundit whose writings were read by millions. I wrote text for Trump’s voter outreach call scripts pro bono. I made volunteer calls to voters on behalf of the Trump and DeSantis campaigns.
And I am here to tell you that I was wrong about all of it. Through a slow and painful process, I went from Ultra-MAGA to Never Trump and Never DeSantis. How? My personal and political epiphany occurred gradually and then all at once, to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway.
For a long time, I sincerely believed in “Make America Great Again.” I convinced myself that a Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden victory represented the end of the United States as we knew it. The intensity of my MAGA feelings strained my marriage and my relationships with my children. I severed ties with some of the most important mentors and influences in my life, all because I believed Democrats were malignant and nefarious.
What changed? It started in Summer 2021. Children and young adults began falling ill more frequently to COVID-19’s Delta surge. Governor DeSantis handled the pandemic as well as he could in its first 18 months. But he abruptly pivoted from advocating the life-saving, hospitalization-reducing COVID vaccine to virulently opposing it for young Floridians and those under 65. I had fully expected DeSantis to lead by forcefully encouraging vaccination for our youth; instead, his persona seemingly changed overnight, and it was then that I began to question my support for him.
DeSantis’s reversal on protecting vulnerable people from COVID opened my mind, and suddenly I started questioning other things. For example, I had always chalked up the January 6 riot to fringe actors from QAnon, the Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys, whose influence I considered minimal at best. But deluged with Trump’s ceaseless rhetoric about the 2020 election being “stolen,” I started to look more closely at the myths and conspiracy theories promulgated by these groups. I was horrified to find that much of what they believe is standard propaganda in MAGA world, very much a part of the MAGA ethos.
I could no longer deny what my eyes were seeing, and I had to acknowledge my error in supporting Trump.
I never believed the election was stolen, or that the COVID vaccine was a bioweapon the federal government was using against its own people. But I had wrongly assumed that I was the norm in the conservative circles I belonged to. Over the course of 2021, I was forced to reckon with the uncomfortable truth that I was the anomaly, which meant that my support for DeSantis and Trump was in effect a support for these conspiracy theories.
Over the next several months, I went through the process of politically de-MAGAizing myself. I challenged all of my beliefs in a process that was personally and existentially tumultuous; mind, spirit and emotions warred with each other. There were many quiet nights of just myself and my thoughts.
Nowadays, that man who so nonchalantly dehumanized Democrats is unrecognizable to me. But that does not absolve me of my responsibility for my choices and votes. Though I cannot reverse time, I can control how I make amends in the future.
Now I refer to myself as a “born-again human being.” Some have labeled my transformation miraculous. I have since sought to repair some of the damage I caused to friends; thankfully, they have mostly welcomed me back.
I am currently registered to vote, though not with any party. But I cannot support the GOP in its current form. Irrespective of my ambivalence toward the Democratic Party, I cannot—I will not—support a party that formally declared the January 6 insurrection as “legitimate political discourse.”
I will solely vote Democrat, not because I want one-party rule, but because the GOP in its current form cannot be saved. A healthy, highly functional democracy requires that both parties concur on basic sets of facts. I’m fine with mild partisanship, but I am unconvinced that many Republican leaders believe the mythologies about socialism, communism, and Marxism that they use to exploit millions of Americans.
Trump, DeSantis, and MAGA supporters are mostly, good decent people who had valid reasons for voting how they did—how I once did. My purpose in writing this is to implore you to think inward—to candidly ask yourself: What if some of my non-negotiable conclusions are mistaken, or incomplete, or too black and white in a complex world of gray?
Healing is not a painless endeavor, but it is liberating.
Rich Logis, a former member of the Republican Party and right-wing pundit, is the founder of Perfect Our Union, an organization dedicated to healing political traumatization; building diverse, pro-democracy alliances; and perfecting our Union.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.