When dealing with the Soviet Union and their vast arsenal of Nuclear Weapons during Arms Treaty Negotiations, President Ronald Reagan famously said “Trust, but Verify” about the approach his administration would take regarding Soviet promises about scheduled reductions. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev responded by saying to Reagan, “You repeat that at every meeting…”
“I like it,” replied Reagan.
Reagan’s famous quote (Trust, but Verify) related to Arms Reduction Treaties with the Soviets and the Nuclear World, but it can easily transition to Campaign Season and the Political World. The act of Party Defection, or Party Switch is nothing new, and the dynamic actually appears to be accelerating as the two major parties in the US skew farther Left and Right. Party switches don’t exist in a vacuum, each one has its own nuances, variables, and circumstances that served as catalyst. Every switch should be analyzed on an individual basis, not treated as a homogeneous phenomenon.
The aforementioned Reagan switched parties in 1962, saying he didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left him. Hillary Clinton switched from Republican to Democrat in mid-60s. More recently, Senator Arlen Specter switched from Republican to Democrat in 2009, giving the Democrats the critical, filibuster proof number in the US Senate which enabled the passing of single party missives like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank which were ultimately signed into law. Notably, the Dems did NOT pass Amnesty Immigration Reform when given the chance. Specter the Defector’s betrayal was not noble, nor was it particularly celebrated by the Democrat as a philosophical victory of changing a staunch Conservative Heart and Mind. Arlen Specter’s switch was bought off by taxpayer money through a $10 billion grant to the National Institutes of Health, one of Specter’s pet projects. At the time, both parties saw the switch for what it was, a career politician, fearful of primary opposition, cashing in his chips.
Specter’s infamous (or famous, depending on the tint of your glasses) Party Switch contributes to the palpable skepticism faced by many candidates who choose to switch parties. The State of Georgia is certainly no stranger to Party Defections, and the 2014 election season is full of drama.
In the House District 80 primary, a similar “vetting” of a candidate is taking place, where incumbent Mike Jacobs is questioning challenger Catherine Bernard’s Democrat Party history and her new found commitment to the Republican Party. Jacobs’ team has shrewdly cornered the “VoteCatherine” website market not ending in .com and are deftly using it to define their opponent.
The State Superintendent race has 9 announced GOP candidates, including another newly minted Republican, Ashley Bell. Bell, has a long and storied history of achievement as a Zealous Democrat who underwent a miracle conversion a few years ago and has now re-emerged as a self-described “Constitutional Conservative.” The miracle conversion just happened to coincide with the Republican wave election in 2010. I penned an article a few weeks ago questioning the sincerity of this conversion as well as the notably thin resume’ (Kate Moss-esque thin) possessed by Bell for a position that would manage an $8 Billion+ annual budget. (Editor’s note: there is a Facebook group called something to the effect of Ashley Bell is pretending to be a Republican. I have absolutely nothing to do with the administration or formation of this group, the only comments I have on the matter appear on this blog or are under MY name on Twitter and Facebook)
I approach election season as an extended job interview and consider elected officials my employees, seeing that my taxes combined with millions of others pays their salaries. Vetting a candidate is a little like peeling an onion, you don’t always like what you see and sometimes there are tears involved. “Trust but Verify” doesn’t aim to please, it aims to inform. Complaining about criticism demonstrates a thin skinned mindset that doesn’t bode well for those who aspire to leading roles in Government.
Its been interesting to watch the reaction, or lack thereof in some cases, to these “vetting tactics.”, “campaign strategies”, or “social media attacks” as Bell supporters lament.
Obviously the white male demographic represented by Lee Morris is one where Republicans have a decided advantage and perhaps not worthy of political grandstanding, but Catherine Bernard represents the under 40 female demographic, a group Republicans have recently struggled with and absolutely MUST appeal to in order to win National elections. Several Bell supporters have been outspoken in defending Bell’s candidacy and have expressed self-righteous indignation that anyone would question his conversion and qualifications for the office sought. Conversely, there have been no bellicose statements from elected officials condemning the vetting tactics against Bernard, no emotional pleas asserting her “right to run”, no nostalgic press releases urging big tent style inclusion to break the Democrat narrative of the Republican “War on Women”.
Selective Outrage, It’s not just a Democrat thing anymore.