Ripping apart our government, breaking our relationships with allies and walking away from America’s leadership in the world are just a few of the reasons we’re seeing something we would have thought impossible just two years ago: in ever increasing numbers prominent Republicans are calling for voters to vote Democratic! Not just for a candidate here and there, but to rout their own party from power.
Here’s a partial (and surprising) list of prominent (some now former) Republicans who’ve said out loud that voters should vote a straight Democratic ticket this year.
George Will, McCain Campaign Manager Steven Schmidt, Max Boot, former senator Gordon Humphrey, former representative and TV host Joe Scarborough, Reagan and Bush I&II aide Peter Wehner, Former FBI director James Comey, Tom Nichols, Thomas Friedman, Phil Heimlich, Richard Painter, and recent commentators on this historic moment: The Hill, Rich Barlow, The New York Times, Vox, Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes in The Atlantic.
Why is this happening?
More and more Americans and particularly old style Republicans now see the grave danger posed by today’s autocratic, nationalist, mysogynistic, money grubbing and bigoted GOP holding power in all three branches of government. Some even feel that nothing less than the demise of the Republican party will be the only way to rebuild it.
How should we talk about this with voters? Should we talk about this with voters? Last question first -absolutely we should. Of course, we should spend almost all our time talking about who we are and what we believe, but it would be a disservice to voters and our candidates (not to mention those Republicans who now see the danger) to not speak up.
We can make a simple declaratory statement, but I prefer to pose it as a question: “Why do you suppose that so many prominent Republicans are pleading with voters to vote a straight Democratic ticket?” Even if they don’t remember your answers, you’ve primed them to remember the question the next time a news story mentions it -even if they didn’t believe you at the door. (You will have opened another more important door.)
You might also say that in this unprecedented moment we have a chance to bridge or even end the divide -something everyone hopes for. Most voters and some former Republicans are with us on many issues including the need to do something yesterday about the climate crisis. Some former Republicans like Richard Painter even support Medicare for all. This may be the first opportunity in forty years for a national reconciliation and a return to more cooperative government.
If you have the time, you can direct voters to some of the stories above, but for now the imperative is to bring this to people’s attention. Republicans are separating themselves from the Libertarians who took over their party. We should help them do it.