Crist Drops Out of GOP, Cites Political Health Reasons
Everyone’s bemoaning Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s “political” decision to run for Senate as an Independent instead of a Republican, since he knows he’d lose the primary to Marco Rubio.
Everyone’s missing the point.
The political rule-bending is tied to the ideology. Liberals and centrists are more likely to bend the rules to win elections and votes than conservatives. It’s part of their political philosophy.
Behold the following Democratic party-hoppers in recent years:
• Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republicans in 2001 to swing the balance to Democrats early in George W. Bush’s first term, after being promised cushier arrangements by Democratic leaders
• Liberal Mayor Mike Bloomberg switched from Republican to Independent in 2007 to garner greater support for his nanny-state governing style in New York
• Arlen Specter left the Republicans for the Democrats last year in anticipation of a difficult primary race
• New York Senate Democrats Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr. became Republicans temporarily last summer in an attempt to enhance their leadership positions, then switched back to being Democrats when their bid failed
• RINO Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democratic candidate Bill Owens over conservative Doug Hoffman after dropping out of NY-23 last November
Also witness the following liberal rule-bending over the last decade:
• Al Gore’s campaign pushed for hand recounts using loosened standards in select counties in the 2000 Florida presidential recount
• Democrats won other elections by finding judges to approve different counting standards in Minnesota (Al Franken, Senate) and Washington (Christine Gregoire, Governor)
• New Jersey Democrats put Frank Lautenberg on the ballot in 2002 after their candidate Robert Torricelli was hit with corruption charges, despite a law on the books against changing candidates so late in the election
• Massachusetts Democrats withheld the right of Republican Governor Mitt Romney to appoint a successor in 2004 if John Kerry became president, then changed the rules in 2009 so Governor Deval Patrick could install a Democrat to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat until the special election
• Mayor Bloomberg successfully pushed in 2007 to change the rule he had argued for in 2001 that had prevented Republican Rudy Guiliani from serving more than two terms, so that Bloomberg could go on to serve three terms himself
• Democrats recently maneuvered to pass their health care bill, including using budget reconciliation to overcome a non-filibuster-proof Senate majority and an unenforceable executive order banning abortion funding to overcome their absence of a House majority in favor of the bill
In contrast, whenever a conservative abandons Democrats, it’s almost always due to newfound disdain for the party’s agenda. It also almost always seems to happen at a completely inconsequential time, when there’s no crucial vote at stake or favors to be handed out, or even when the candidate has something to lose.
Alabama Representative Parker Griffith switched parties last December, citing revulsion over the direction in which House leaders were taking the country. Griffith did not switch to join a majority party like Specter or improve his electoral chances like Crist—he did it because, as he put it, Democratic leaders “continue to push an agenda focused on massive new spending, tax increases, bailouts, and a health care bill that is bad for our healthcare system… [A]fter watching this agenda firsthand, I now believe that the differences in the two parties could not be more clear, and that… I must align myself with the Republican party.”
New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg rejected President Obama’s offer of Commerce Secretary last year, after having met with Obama about the position and coordinated with Governor John Lynch to name a replacement Senator. When Gregg got a closer look at Obama’s massive stimulus proposal and plans to politicize the Census, he ran for the hills. There was nothing opportunistic above Gregg’s move—if anything, it cost him a prestigious position and soured relations with the new administration.
Texas Representative Ralph Hall became a Republican in 2004 after 54 years of being a moderate Democrat. Rumors had been circulating since the Republican Revolution that he would switch parties, but he didn’t do so when it was expedient, preferring instead to “pull my party back toward the middle.” Hall was instrumental in forming the moderate coalition of Blue Dog Democrats. After years of watching his party bash President Bush over Iraq, Hall changed parties, explaining, “When the country is at war you need to support the president. Some of my fellow congressmen have not been doing that.” Far from showering him with plumb assignments, Republican leaders refused to allocate funding for Hall’s district—as Hall said, “the only reason I was given was that I was a Democrat.” The party eventually embraced him; but the point is that Hall did not switch for political opportunism, but rather at great cost to himself.
Virginia Representative Virgil Goode switched parties in 2000 after Democrats gave him hell over voting for three of the articles of impeachment against President Clinton. Goode is rather ideologically conservative anyway, having voted for the Iraq War, the surge, and tough anti-amnesty immigration and veterans’ rights legislation. He won reelection in 2000 as an Independent—a politically risky move, but one that genuinely reflected his evolving ideology—before joining the Republicans in 2002.
While hawkish Senator Joe Lieberman did leave the Democratic Party in 2006 to run in the general election as an Independent Democrat, he at least had the guts to face his opponent Ned Lamont in the primary first. Lieberman did not, like Crist, go around quoting Abraham Lincoln, saying that he was switching parties so he could better serve the cause of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and that his change in party had nothing—absolutely nothing!—to do with his reelection prospects.
There’s a reason liberals and moderates are more likely to switch parties or bend election rules in their favor. They do not, at their core, all the way down, believe in a stable, predictable rule of law, as clearly stated and adhered to by all citizens in a system of government known as a republic. They believe in doing whatever they can get away with, if they can convince enough people at the time that it’s right for them to do it—hence the “democracy” in Democratic.
Show me a DINO who bolted for the Republican Party for ulterior motives, and I’ll show you a rare creature indeed.