Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Reasonable Right

In the early days of 2004, I believed that Bush's Achilles heel would be an oncoming wave of defections of prominent conservatives and Republicans whose consciences would demand that they put country ahead of party and publicly endorse the Democrat this time around. I continue to argue that a Kerry win would benefit the Republican Party long term, by strengthening the voices of reason and moderation within it. I clearly underestimated the power of loyalty and personal investment in the party that moderates feel, as the anticipated wave has been a trickle of mostly retired Republicans or non-office-holders. Even groups like Mainstream 2004, a collection of Republican ex-governors and ex-senators decrying extremism and calling for moderation within the Republican policy, come short of simply endorsing the opposition, though Linwood Holton, former Republican governor of Virginia and member of the group has suggested that he could not vote for Bush under the current circumstances.

Now that's not to say that there aren't a lot of long time Republicans who will defect this year. I think that especially in the over 60 crowd there are many who remember the days of Eisenhower, and are ready to say that enough is enough. But for anyone officially within the party, there seems to be a formidable taboo against officially endorsing a formal opponent. Hagel, Snowe, Collins, and sometimes McCain may equivocate about particular administration policies or stances, but you won't be hearing a cross-party endorsement. Even lonely liberal Republican, Lincoln Chafee won't come out and say he's voting for Kerry, though to do otherwise would be inconsistent with his voting record in the Senate.

Conservative columnists certainly feel freer to express doubt and dissent at aspects of the policies of Republicans. But even so, there is surprising reluctance to give outright endorsements of the other guys in deference to the country ahead of party concept. I'm always looking for exceptions to this, and will be pleased to have more pointed out to me.

John Eisenhower, son of the former President, wrote an eloquent editorial endorsement of John Kerry, in which he says "we voters will have to make cool judgments, unencumbered by habits of the past." He even goes on to express enthusiasm about his decision to pull the lever for Kerry, which is just about unprecedented for a prominent Republican.

Among the regular citizenry, of course, there's no such taboo. I found:
in a quick web search.

I do hope some exit polls ask voters to identify who they voted for, if they voted, in 2000, as it will be interesting to see the number of switches. I agree with what I've read that the number of switches in both directions is likely to be unprecedented this year, as 9/11 and its aftermath, as well as the Bush response to it and the launching of two wars, had profound but uneven effects on almost all Americans.

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