August 17, 2006

Why haven't moderate Republicans switched party?

While driving into work today there was some stupid call-in show on NPR. One of the guests made reference to the 1940s and 50s when many Democrats saw the Democratic Party going in a direction they didn't like (especially on civil rights issues) and switched parties. Now I don't know a ton about how that switch was actually engineered (did the Republican Party recruit the alienated Democrats?) but it still go me thinking, why aren't we seeing moderate Republicans switching to the Democratic Party today? There are many moderate Republicans (so moderate in many cases that they are Democrats in everyway but name) whose job is threatened in the upcoming election only because they belong to the wrong party. A couple of names that come to mind would be Senator Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, Representatives Christopher Shays, Rob Simmons, and Nancy Johnson...well just about every moderate Republican that is in the Northeast.I'm not sure how interested any of these Republicans would be in switching parties, but it would be a brilliant move by the Democratic Party to capture these moderates. It would isolate certain elements of the Republican Party and show the American public that moderates no longer want anything to do with this brand of conservatism that the Republican Party has peddled the last 6 years.I'll admit that I have a vested interest in seeing more moderates enter the Democratic ranks, but on many of the key issues (for Democrats) these politicians are squarely to the left of center: they support abortion rights, they support gay marriage/civil unions, they support keeping a separation of church and state, etc. It would definitely be a tough pill for many Deaniacs to swallow, especially given their irrational exuberance after Connecticut Democrats ousted their pariah Joe Lieberman, but if they ever want the Democratic Party to be more than an opposition party it would be the way to go.