Republican Desertions Could Cost Bush
the vast majority of Democrats who voted for Green Party candidate
Ralph Nader in 2000 are now lining up behind Senator John Kerry,
Republicans unhappy with President George W Bush are having a much
harder time deciding what to do next Tuesday.
a relatively small number have apparently decided to take the Nader
option, others believe the prospect of four more years of Bush is
just too horrible to contemplate and are thus opting for the only
candidate who has a chance to defeat him, John Kerry.
of the deserters hail from what remains of the "moderate" wing
of the Republican Party that which since 1952 was identified
with the multinational interests of big Wall Street companies, the
corporate-welfare state and civil rights.
the son of former President Dwight D Eisenhower whose victory
over isolationist Robert Taft in the 1952 Republican National Convention
sealed the domination of the so-called "Rockefeller Republicans"
over most of the next 25 years announced his endorsement
of Kerry in September in a commentary first published in the extreme
right-wing Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader.
fact is that today's 'Republican' Party'," wrote John Eisenhower
who noted that he changed his lifelong party registration
to independent after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq "is
one with which I am totally unfamiliar." He went on to assail
the current administration for its profligate spending and its "hubris
and arrogance" in foreign affairs.
less surprising was an offhand remark of a sitting Republican senator,
Lincoln Chafee, who suggested Monday he will write in a candidate
on his ballot rather than vote for Bush.
control of the U.S. Senate up for grabs Tuesday, his statement was
taken by some to mean that the Rhode Island Republican, who is not
facing reelection, may abandon his party if Democrats get within
one vote of controlling the upper chamber, just as former New England
colleague, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, did in May 2001. The current
Senate breakdown is 51 to 49.
diminishing Republican moderates have also been joined by self-described
"conservatives," many of whom say they voted for Bush
in 2000 in the mistaken belief he would pursue what he called a
"humble" foreign policy and remain loyal to the "small-government"
principles at the core of US Republican conservatism since World
continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for
generations," wrote Scott McConnell, executive editor of The
American Conservative magazine, in an article titled "Kerry
is the One." "George W Bush has come to embody a politics
that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism,"
erosion of Bush's Republican or conservative base appears to be
part of a national phenomenon best illustrated by the fact that
Kerry is securing considerably more newspaper endorsements than
local newspaper publishers have been Republican. Bush, for example,
scored more than twice the number of endorsements as then-Vice President
Al Gore in the 2000 election.
according to the latest count by the trade on-line journal, 'Editor
and Publisher', Kerry is now leading Bush by 162 to 129, although
most of the incumbent's support comes from the dailies of smaller
towns. In terms of circulation, readers of Kerry newspapers account
for 18.4 million households; for Bush, the number is 12.8 million.
notable, 38 newspapers that supported Bush four years ago have switched
to Kerry, while only six newspapers that backed Gore have moved
to Bush. Ten other newspapers half of them in key swing states,
Ohio, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania that endorsed Bush in
2000 have declined to back either candidate. Most of them have endorsed
Republican contenders for decades.
course, most right-wing factions, especially those that make up
the coalition behind Bush's aggressive unilateralism following the
Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks the "assertive nationalists"
identified with Vice President Dick Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald
Rumsfeld; the neo-conservatives who back Israel's Likud Party; and
the Christian Right are lining up in strong support of the
even some who have been outspoken and relentless in their attacks,
particularly on the administration's foreign policy notably paleo-conservative
Pat Buchanan still intend to vote for Bush, in the desperate
hope that a second term would be substantially different from the
their view, the president was manipulated by neo-conservatives and
others into adopting policies that do not reflect his core values.
In this view, Bush has now seen the light and will thoroughly purge
his administration, something he could not do until after the election
given his refusal to admit to voters that he was wrong.
that opinion is discounted as wishful thinking by others on the
right, such as supply-side guru Jude Wanniski, who exercised considerable
influence in the early years of the Reagan administration.
Mr. Bush has told us repeatedly about how he is strengthened by
his faith in God, with that faith sustaining him through tough decisions,
it goes without saying that if he is reelected he will be filled
with the spirit of vindication," he warned his newsletter subscribers
not only would be no changes in the team's view of how the world
must be dealt with," Wanniski added in explaining why he will vote
for Kerry on Tuesday. "There would also be less restraint in George
W Bush's willingness to shape the world to his divinely inspired
the most important defections are likely to come from the more-moderate
elements that, in any event, have been emigrating from the Republicans
as the Christian Right, in particular, has consolidated its control
of the party's machinery.
is why the traditionally Republican New England states, Maine and
New Hampshire, could very easily move into Kerry's column Tuesday,
while former Republican state officeholders in the upper Midwest,
another stronghold of moderate Republicanism, are now speaking out
truth is that President George W Bush does not speak for me or for
many other moderate Republicans on a very broad cross-section of
issues," said William Milliken, who served as Michigan's governor
from 1969 to 1983, earlier this month.
noted that Bush has created "the largest deficit in the history
of our country" and "rushed us into a tragic and unnecessary war."
Michigan is one of ten critical swing states that went narrowly
for Gore in 2000.
prominent Michigander, former Chrysler chairman and management guru
Lee Iacocca, has also switched. Earlier this year, Iacocca, who
was a vocal supporter of Bush in 2000, said he intended to vote
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2004 Inter Press Service