Shape Shifters

Three of the Democrats running for president in 2016 started their political lives as Republicans.  That says more about the GOP than it does about the candidates, writes Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post,

Hillary Clinton was president of her college Republican Club and a Goldwater Girl back in the 1960s.  Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) was a conservative icon who ran for president in 1964 and lost in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson.  She became a Democrat toward the end of law school at Yale, where she met Bill Clinton.

Lincoln Chafee, who announced his candidacy last week, was a Republican senator from Rhode Island, as was his father, who was also governor.  Assorted Chafees for generations has been Republican governors, senators and leaders of the GOP.  In 2007 Lincoln Chaffee switched to Independent, saying it had been taken over by "right-wing fanatics."  He was elected governor later as an Independent, and 18 months ago became a Democrat.

James Webb, who is flirting with joining the presidential pack, was Republican when he served as Ronald Reagan's Navy secretary, but was elected to the from Virginia as a Democrat in 2006, saying he was fed up with Presidnt George W. Bush's military policy. He apparently also got fed up with the Senate and retired after one term.

The Republican Party that these politicos joined no longer exists.  It has moved so far to the right that there would be no room today for Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Jerry Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, George Aiken, Margaret Chase Smith or even Ronald Reagan.

Liberal Republicans have become extinct and moderates are an endangered species. 

The Democratic presidential hopefuls didn't leave the Republican Party, writes Rampell, "The Republican Party left them."

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.
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