Important Canary in the Coal Mine Moment: Susan Eisenhower Leaves Republican Party


Dwight D Eisenhower.jpg
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


13 comments on “Important Canary in the Coal Mine Moment: Susan Eisenhower Leaves Republican Party

  1. Kathleen says:

    Carroll…Amen and them some… I’m sending Nader a check today….if every Indy refused to support either major party, they would be toast today…..think outside the box, people…it’s the only way.


  2. Carroll says:

    Maybe it’s hard for party insiders and players and natural born believers/followers to leave a party but it’s not that hard for a lot of voters.
    Didn’t bother me at all to switch from repub to dem to independent. I only re-registered as dem to vote in the primaries. I’ve never been a party voter anyway.


  3. Carroll says:

    Posted by Kathleen Aug 22, 11:28AM
    Well,well….great minds (someimes) run in the same…
    I sent Jeffords a donation also, I was very impressed with him.
    If we reward the Jeffords maybe it will start a trend, maybe it has already started a trend.


  4. Mike Claussen says:

    I have never been able to understand how a person can be fooled by the Republican party and then become outraged at the natural consequence of the mind-set that is the Republican party. It doesn’t take a mental giant to realize that a chicken shouldn’t vote for Col Sanders. Guess what.. most of us are the chickens. On the other hand, I’m not foolish enough to think that very many elected Democrats actually believe what our party is supposed to represent. I do applaud Susan Eisenhour and her family for their personal courage.


  5. bmc says:

    With all due respect, Steve, this is a ludicrous argument, considering that Independents now comprise a third of the electorate, a huge swing of voters over the past 8 years. Personally, I was a Republican for many years; in 2000, I was a Republican who voted for Al Gore. I left the Republican party in Jan. 2001 and was an activist member of the Democratic Party, becoming a precinct chair in my district, phone-banking, canvassing, driving voters to the polls and running party headquarters throughout the Bush administration. Since the DNC/RBC debacle in May and the sum total of caucus corruption throughout the primary season, I am no longer a Democrat. Now, I’m one of those Independents. It doesn’t take much to switch parties; even politicians do it–AFTER they’re elected. I did have some emotions over leaving both major political parties, though: RAGE.


  6. Mr.Murder says:

    Obama’s campaign to demean the contributions of elected women gains one one woman convert.
    She can balance the other 90% who aren’t worshiping the emporer’s new clothes….


  7. Don Bacon says:

    This is the problem with (essentially) a two-party system, you wind up with disenchanted hybrids and mutts in one of the parties by default, because there is no major party that represents their views. I believe the US system is unique in this respect in the industrialized world.


  8. Linda says:

    While they haven’t left the Republican party (yet?), both David Eisenhower and his wife, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, also are supporting Obama.


  9. Paul Norheim says:

    “Of course, that has happened to some Hillary Clinton supporters
    who have essentially become anti-Obama/pro-McCain
    operatives.” (Clemons)
    And the absurdity of that phenomenon is underlined by the fact
    that this happens at a time when the GOP, as Susan Eisenhower
    says, “has already consumed nearly all of its moderate “seed
    If more moderates follow her example, the GOP may be
    transformed into a weird blend of irresponsible neocon
    adventurers, born again rapture proponents and PUMA feminists.
    An interesting field for social anthropologists.


  10. Matt says:

    What’s the buzz on Chet Edwards for Obama’s VP?


  11. ExBrit says:

    It’s about time! Someone once said, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party – it left me!” and I think it’s an apt comment in Eisenhower’s case. I’ve been waiting for Chuck Hagel to do the same thing. I’m still hoping Obama will choose him as VP.


  12. Kathleen says:

    Former Republican Senator Jim Jeffords, VT. had the most impact when he left the Repugs because, if not for his decision to leave the GOP, we would never have had a 9/11 Commission….to show my support for his move, I sent him my tax rebate that year.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *