June 8, 2020


The Revolt of the Center-RightProminent Republicans are balking at voting for Trump. Could it cost him the election? (Walter Shapiro, 6/08/20, New Republic)

At minimum, the pointed attacks from Mattis, Murkowski, and Colin Powell (who announced Sunday that he is again voting for the Democratic nominee, as he has in recent presidential elections) have gotten to the president. Even by his usual standards, Trump seems more unhinged than a toppling door. According to a tally by Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News, Trump set a new record for the most tweets and retweets he has ever fired off in a single day on Friday: 200. (That's once every seven minutes, topping the old record he'd set during impeachment.)

The revolt of these prominent Republicans could do far more, though, than rattle the president. The target audience of Republicans for Biden would not be unswerving GOP partisans and MAGA-hat-wearing zealots too far gone to be lured back to reality. Rather, the goal would be to help sway soccer moms in the Phoenix suburbs and prompt troubled GOP party loyalists outside Detroit to leave the presidential line blank.

This strategy has worked whenever a political party has veered towards extremism. When the the GOP nominated Barry Goldwater against LBJ in 1964, defectors such as Jackie Robinson were prominent members of an ad hoc group called "Republicans for Johnson."

And in 1984, Jeane Kirkpatrick began a powerful speech at the GOP convention in Dallas with these words: "This is the first Republican convention I have ever attended. I am grateful that you should invite me, a lifelong Democrat. On the other hand, I realize that you are inviting many lifelong Democrats to join this common cause."

The hawkish Kirkpatrick, once a close ally of Hubert Humphrey, was already serving as Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations. But her excoriating the Democrats at the convention as "the blame America first" party carried an emotional heft far greater than if she had been a Republican all her life.

Reagan, in fact, is a testament to the persuasive power of political conversion. Reagan, who as a liberal Democrat made radio speeches for Harry Truman in 1948, liked to joke, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. It left me."

That is a line that hopefully will be repeatedly quoted with the parties switched on Republican Night at the 2020 Democratic convention. The goal of this GOP outreach, it must be stressed, is not to turn the Biden campaign into pablum by mouthing centrist bromides. Rather, it is to recognize that the future of democracy depends on the largest coalition and the largest possible victory margin for Biden in November.

Time to start taking back our party.

Posted by at June 8, 2020 12:00 AM