Imagine if you were OpenLeft‘s Matt Stoller — and he woke up one day and he decided he couldn’t take the drift in the Democratic Party any longer — and he quit. Stoller became an independent or even a McCain-supporting Republican. Of course, that has happened to some Hillary Clinton supporters who have essentially become anti-Obama/pro-McCain operatives.
But quitting a party is difficult. I’ve seen some friends do it — and it’s traumatic for them. Lincoln Chafee quit the Republican Party and has become an Independent — and many Republicans — such as former Republican Congressman Jim Leach and Republican philanthropist and international lawyer Rita Hauser among others — are remaining Republican but organizing behind Obama.
Christine Todd Whitman and long term Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson want their party back.
I quit the Democrats and Republicans long ago. I quit the Dems when the Los Angeles City Council, dominated by Dems, shifted its position under the direction of Richard Alatorre and Tom Bradley and issued previously blocked oil drilling permits to Armand Hammer and Occidental Petroleum. At that time, Al Gore’s father — the former Senator Al Gore Sr. — sat on Occidental’s board. I quit then.
I joined the Republicans, but too many bad encounters with “B-1 Bob Dornan” helped me make my slide into long term Independent status an easy one.
But when the Eisenhowers not only abandon a GOP candidate in favor of a Dem but actually quit the party — that’s a “canary in the coal mine” moment.
Ike’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, a realist/strategist, Eisenhower-style Republican has quit her grandfather’s party. This is really a “wow” moment.
Read her entire statement, but here is a clip of her stand which was issued on National Interest Online, a publication affiliated with the Nixon Center:
I have decided I can no longer be a registered Republican.
For the first time in my life I announced my support for a Democratic candidate for the presidency, in February of this year. This was not an endorsement of the Democratic platform, nor was it a slap in the face to the Republican Party. It was an expression of support specifically for Senator Barack Obama.
I had always intended to go back to party ranks after the election and work with my many dedicated friends and colleagues to help reshape the GOP, especially in the foreign-policy arena. But I now know I will be more effective focusing on our national and international problems than I will be in trying to reinvigorate a political organization that has already consumed nearly all of its moderate “seed corn.”
And now, as the party threatens to trivialize what promised to be a serious debate on our future direction, it will alienate many young people who might have come into party ranks.
My decision came at the end of last week when it was demonstrated to the nation that McCain and this Bush White House have learned little in the last five years.
They mishandled what became a crisis in the Caucusus, and this has undermined U.S. national security. At the same time, the McCain camp appears to be comfortable with running an unworthy Karl Rove-style political campaign. Will the McCain operation, and its sponsors, do anything to win?
I don’t like applauding the shift of moderates away from the Republican Party. It’s not healthy for a largely two-party system to find either party hijacked by radicals who appeal to slim minorities.
But I am glad that Susan Eisenhower shared her political course with us. It’s something all of us who are interested in healthy political outcomes should note.
Her move also says a great deal about the destructive course the Republican Party has been heading for some time.
— Steve Clemons