The Republican Party is in worse shape than I'd realized
by desmoinesdem, Fri Jul 20, 2007 at 10:01:49 PM EDT
My dad was a Rockefeller Republican. He was disappointed by the turn the party took in the 1980s and 1990s, and though he died before George W. Bush was selected president, I've always felt that he would have definitively made the break from the GOP during this decade.
At the same time, I've felt that the number of disenchanted Rockefeller Republicans (liberal on social issues and supportive of things like progressive taxation and the estate tax) is not big enough to cost the GOP much in the electoral arena.
Tonight I ran into a former colleague of my father's, whom I hadn't seen in a long time. It was an eye-opening conversation to me; the circle of Republicans who are disgusted by their party's standard-bearers is broader than I had realized.
More after the jump.
My dad worked with this man for about 20 years, so they knew each other well. The former colleague (probably now in his late 50s or early 60s) is your classic old-fashioned Republican: country club, Chamber of Commerce, mainline Protestant, pro-choice, very successful in his profession. I know for sure that he has been active in the Iowa Republican Party in the past.
When I ran into him and his wife, we chatted for a few minutes about what I'm doing, their home remodel, etc. Then I asked him if he had a presidential candidate yet.
"I don't have a party," he replied.
I mentioned that I'd watched a couple of the Republican presidential debates and wondered if my dad would even identify as a Republican today. He said with certainty, "He wouldn't." He added that he doesn't plan to support any of the Republican presidential candidates, and a lot of Republicans he knows plan to sit out this next election.
"You have no idea how big your victory is going to be," he said. The wife nodded. She is also disgusted by the current crop of candidates.
I mentioned having met a Republican who told me he would consider voting for Bill Richardson. The wife said she really likes him--he's solid, he's shown that he can get things done, and "I just love his ads. They are so upbeat." I asked if they thought there would be a big crossover vote, and the wife certainly seemed open to the prospect. The husband said he suspected that the Republicans he knew wouldn't vote Democratic, but would sit out the general election.
He repeated that the Democrats are headed for a huge victory. "You're going to have the presidency, the House and the Senate." The wife added, "And that's probably not a bad thing."
I was simply stunned to hear these comments. This guy is very plugged into business Republican circles. This isn't your Limbaugh/Hannity listening crowd, but this is an important part of the GOP's coalition (especially on the fundraising side). If he is right, and large numbers of those Republicans are going to stand on the sidelines this cycle, November 2008 will be ugly for the GOP.
We better not blow this historic opportunity for realignment.