On Monday, the Biden campaign announced the formation of a new group with the purpose of engaging potential GOP support for the former Vice-President this coming November. This group is known as Republicans for Biden and, as the name suggests, is composed of a group of former Republican congressman who are throwing their support behind Biden.
The formation of this group is part of the national effort to get Republicans supporting Biden to organize in their community and urge others to join them.
One tool that the campaign is providing for such voters is the “Vote Joe” app for smart phones. This app allows users to take advantage of existing relationships among other voters in their community and provides opportunity for them to engage with new support and even persuadable voters. The campaign can also use this app to send out mass text messages and provide updates on events.
The group Republicans for Biden is being spear-headed by former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake who has been a critic of the President both during and after his single term in the Senate. But he and the others signing onto this new group are not the first Republicans to break rank this election cycle. At last week’s Democratic National Convention several former Republican figures spoke for Biden. These include: former Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Secretary of State in the Bush administration Colin Powell, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former candidate for Governor of California Meg Whitman, and the widow of the 2008 GOP Presidential nominee, Cindy McCain.
“These former members of congress cited Trump’s corruption, destruction of Democracy, blatant disregard for moral decency, and urgent need to get the country back on course as a reason why they support Biden,” a Biden campaign official told Fox News in regard to Republicans for Biden.
The Trump Campaign communications director responded by stating that Biden has been a Washington swamp creature for 50 years. According to him, this move just represents other swamp creatures moving to protect their own. He went on to point out that the President’s campaign is making inroads among traditional Democratic voters as well. This includes voters in the African American community, Latino community, and Unions.
As I read this story, several thoughts occur to me. First, this strategy of using former GOP officials may not work as planned. If you recall, Trump ran just as hard against the Republican establishment in 2016 as he did against Hillary Clinton. Do you remember those days? It was a crowded primary field but everyone assumed that the party establishment would have its way again and that the nominee would be another Bush. Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, to be precise. There was even a highly publicized meeting between him and the party’s 2012 Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, which was a symbolic passing of the torch between the two. Then Trump came on the scene and started lashing out at not just Obama and Clinton, but the Bush family and Mitt Romney. He criticized George Bush’s Iraq war policy. He criticized Romney for being a weak candidate. He lumped them and other Republicans in with the Democrats when it came to bad trade deals and being weak on China. In effect, he set himself up as the ultimate outsider in the campaign that year.
This group, Republicans for Biden, might appear to hurt Trump on the surface. But in actuality, it will help him to maintain his image as the outsider fighting the Washington establishment that both parties have been a part of. It was this image that propelled him to the party’s nomination last time and it certainly helped in the general election as well.
Secondly, these Republicans demonstrate a loyalty to the entrenched Washington system. Presumably, the more than two dozen Republicans who have joined this group campaigned against Democrats at one point. During their time in office, they presumably supported Republican agendas over Democratic agendas to one degree or another. So what’s changed? Not the agenda issues, that’s for sure. I’ve been a political junky since I was a teenager and I remember lower taxes, border security, a well-funded military, and reduced government red tape as always being a part of what Republicans campaigned on. Trump’s agenda during his term so far has been pretty orthodox as far as conservative-republicans should be concerned. The possible sticking points here are his excessive spending, his executive orders, and troop withdrawals around the world. The first two of these are conveniently ignored anytime a Republican is in the oval office. The third on hasn’t been cited as an issue for those breaking ranks. So nothing has changed much issue-wise. As for Democrats, their agenda has changed somewhat. But that change has been to become even more radically leftist. In this election, the Bernie Sanders influence on the party ticket and the agenda is clear to see. Additionally, Kamala Harris as the VP pick should raise a ton of red flags about just how far left this party has gone.
So, since the Republican party hasn’t changed much policy-wise, but the Democrats have changed by becoming more left-wing, it makes no sense for a group of run-of-the-mill Republicans to back the Democratic nominee. That is, unless the change they’re disputing is in a different area. The thing that has changed is the person doing it all, Trump. Their objection isn’t to what’s being done, but who is doing it. A Washington outsider who has promised to drain the swamp and has had some considerable success in this regard based on who he’s decided to endorse. And, as the campaign spokesman said, it’s no surprise that these swamp creatures are rallying to defend their swamp.
Finally, Republicans for Biden, represents a wasted opportunity to give Americans a real choice. In all honesty, there is a lot to dislike about Trump. The excessive spending and the abuse of executive orders are the two things that come to my mind. But the solution to that is not to rally behind a Democrat whose campaign promises are to…well, engage in excessive spending and abuse executive orders. I suspect that I’m not alone among Americans in wanting another option on the ballot this November. But there isn’t one. The third parties that are there are either too small and not on the ballot in enough states to be viable, or they’re too unrealistic in their political theory to be taken seriously.
If these experienced political figures had decided to join forces behind a well-known name in politics who either represented a moderate agenda or a pre-Trump GOP, then I think Americans would have responded favorably. Most Americans are tired of the continued in-fighting between the two entrenched parties and the musical chairs that goes on between them.
Although third party bids are always a long shot, the Trump era represents the best time in anyone’s memory that such a bid could have been made.
Trump’s abrasive personality, his past amoral lifestyle, and propensity to stick his foot in his mouth makes him an unlikable candidate, to put it mildly. In 2016, he faced an equally unlikable candidate. This year, he’s squaring off against a potted plant. If ever there was a time for a serious third party bid by someone who knows how Washington works and has the connections to build a workable cabinet and West Wing, this would have been it. Not only would this ticket have appealed to never Trumpers on the conservative side, it could have appealed to Democrats disaffected by their party’s leftward lurch as well. Instead of doing that, however, Jeff Flake, John Kasich, and the laundry list of other former GOP personalities decided to support the potted plant and waste the opportunity that was presented to them on a silver platter.
Republicans for Biden is neither new or surprising. Already the Lincoln Project has tried to do something similar as well as a PAC run by former Bush administration officials. None of these groups, however, are likely to impact the election in a meaningful way.
The Complete list of these former Congressmen making up Republicans for Biden is as follows: Jeff Flake (Arizona), Gordon Humphrey (New Hampshire), John Warner (Virginia), Steve Bartlett (Texas), Bill Clinger (Pennsylvania), Tom Coleman (Missouri) , Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania), Charles Djou (Hawaii), Mickey Edwards (Oklahoma), Wayne Gilchrest (Maryland), Jim Greenwood (Pennsylvania), Bob Inglis (South Carolina), Jim Kilbe (Arizona), Steve Kuykendall (California), Ray LaHood (Illinois), Jim Leach (Iowa), Connie Morella (Maryland), Mike Parker (Mississippi), Jack Quinn (New York), Claudine Schneider (Rhode Island), Chris Shays (Connecticut), Peter Smith (Vermont), Alan Steelman (Texas), Bill Whitehurst (Virginia), Dick Zimmer (New Jersey), Jim Walsh (New York).