page contents

Crossing the Aisle by Lily Murphy

I had to laugh at the term given to Republicans who found compromise with Democrats regarding the recent government shutdown. They were coined Rino’s, “Republicans in name only”. The term was used by those sitting further right on the Republican scale to lambaste their fellow conservatives, a sure sign all is not rosy in the Republican garden.

In-fighting is nothing new to politics and neither is party switching in order to save ones political skin. In the two party landscape of American politics, switching parties has always been a prominent play. Ideological differences may serve as a reason for crossing the floor but in reality it is the need to get re-elected which drives a politician and if it means trading in one party for another than the politician will do it without hesitation.

Switching political allegiances isn’t rare in American politics. Many names known and many names unknown have switched from one party to another, one such name was Wayne Lyman Morse. Morse started his political career as the Republican senator for Oregon during the 1940s but left the GOP to stand as an independent in the early 50s. By 1955 Morse joined the Democrat party. During the 60s Morse became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam war and lost his senate seat.

Michael Bloomberg had been a Democrat before running for New York mayor in 2001 on the Republican ticket. Six years later Bloomberg left the Republicans to become an independent.

Jim Webb served as Secretary of the navy under Ronald Reagan and was rising in the ranks of the GOP but by 2006 he was in Capitol Hill as senator for Virginia under the Democrat banner.

Teddy Roosevelt served as a Republican president during the 1900’s but left the GOP in 1912 in order to create his own party called the Bull Moose and ran for the White House again. He ultimately lost out to Woodrow Wilson.

Who can forget Texas Governor Rick Perry during the 2012 race for the White House? He became prime roast for SNL and an embarrassment for the Republican party whom he wanted to represent as their candidate but Rick Perry began his political career as a Democrat when he was elected to the state house of representatives in 1984 but by 1989 he jumped the Democrat ship and onto the Republican one.

2016 might see Hillary Clinton back on the campaign trail for a second run at the presidency for the Democrats but Clinton was not always the Democrat we all know of today. In 1960 she worked on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign and in 1964 supported right wing Barry Goldwater’s campaign. Before she went to college Clinton was a prominent member of her local Young Republicans but it was while she was at college that she changed her views. Like many other college students at that time she opposed the Vietnam war and when she met Bill, well the rest as they say is history.

Ronald Regan is today seen as the patron saint of the Republican party but he was originally a Democrat until he became president of the screen actors guild in 1947 and his political views gradually moved to the right. His move was solidified when he married Nancy who was a Republican supporter and eventually he joined the Republican party in 1962 stating that he didn’t leave the Democrat party, the Democrat party left him.

Condoleezza Rice  was the darling of George W Bush’s White House team but she was originally a Democrat. Rice switched to the GOP in 1982 when she found herself at odds with the Democrat’s Foreign policy.

Howard Dean the howler of the 2000 presidential campaign was born into a conservative well off family but upon his move to college his views turned liberal and against his Republican family’s wishes he joined the Democrats.

Switching political allegiances isn’t as rare as it seems and without doubt such political bed hopping will continue.

Lily Murphy comes from Cork city, Ireland. She graduated last year from University College Cork with a B.A in history and politics. She can be reached at