In a surprising development (on the face of it at least), quite some Republicans are siding with Senator Barack Obama:
There is an interesting phenomenon that has arisen over the last few months: a trend of moderate Republicans who want to vote for Barack Obama. It may seem counterintuitive, conservatives supporting a candidate who wants to tax the wealthy and embrace the conventions in the Kyoto Accord, but there is something in Obama’s message about ridding politics of partisanship that is appealing to these Republicans.
He doesn’t carry the baggage of a Hillary Clinton. He is new; he seems authentic — although his connection to indicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko has made some previous supporters wonder — and he has more gravitas than pretty boy John Edwards. The Republicans who like him may have supported John McCain in the past, but after eight years of the Bush White House they feel they can no longer support the Republican field. The idea of a congressional glasnost — a harmonic nonpartisanship in Washington — is an Obama goal they endorse.
Some of these right-wing Obama supporters are putative country club Republicans, hailing from areas similar to the North Shore of Chicago. Others are professionals who are disillusioned by the Bush administration’s failure to develop a sound domestic policy to redress issues of health care and Social Security or to end the relentless war in Iraq.
Add to this the secrecy of the Bush administration, the Scooter Libby affair, the unfortunate choice of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the scandals of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the Tom DeLays and Mark Foleys, and there remains an unsavory stew of problems for those once proud to call themselves Republican.
Kenneth Wehking – who still sees himself as a Republican, from “a philosophical point of view” – explains: “Obama is one of the first candidates who truly seems to embody a spirit of working together and moving forward.”
Randy Cooper, a 60-year-old lawyer from Eaton, N.H, grew up as an Eisenhower Republican and supported George H. W. Bush and John McCain. However, “Cooper began to feel that George II and his acolytes, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were being disingenuous about the reasons for going into Iraq.”
Cooper explains: “I absolutely feel we were lied to. There were other reasons [Bush] wanted to go into Iraq. It wasn’t just about weapons of mass destruction.”
He also believes that the baby-boomers had their chance, now it is time to give the new generation a chance to move America forward: “Part of me thinks that a new generation should take over,” says Cooper. “Our generation hasn’t done all that good a job. Maybe the strife of the 1960s was just too hard to overcome.”
Quite some people in the Republican Party are – in my opinion – making a tragic mistake by ignoring those who are fed up with everything. There are many individuals out there, who are not (social) conservative, but Republican nonetheless, who had had enough, who do not want the politics of division to last any longer, who believe that Bush’s foreign policy is a disaster, and who believe that American needs radical change. These people have always – or mostly – voted Republican. The GOP needs the support of these people, by purely relying on the conservative base, the GOP will not win the elections in 08. Therefore, it seems to me that their complaints should be taken seriously.
Obama’s strongest asset is that he is able to appeal to Independent voters and even to Republican voters. The GOP should fear him and make sure that there will not be a significant amount of Republicans who decide to support Obama instead of the Republican nominee. This means that conservative Republicans should listen to people like Pete Abel, Randy Cooper and Kenneth Wehking.