I’ve written about party-switching by elected officials before; unfortunately, it was on the old Ethics Scoreboard, which is temporarily in limbo thanks to an incompetent web hosting service and some corrupted old disks. I can summarize the proper ethics standard for the practice, however. It was demonstrated perfectly by the now retired former Republican U.S. Senator from Texas, Phil Gramm. Just days after he had been reelected to a House seat as a Democrat in 1982, Gramm was thrown off the House Budget Committee in a dispute with party leadership. In response, Gramm resigned as a Representative, changed parties, and ran for his old seat as a Republican in a special election. He won easily, and was a Republican ever after. That’s the honorable way to do it.
Or, you could be like West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who announced that he was flipping from the Democratic Party to the GOP at last night’s rally with President Trump.
Most party-switchers, virtually all of them, in fact, have been like Justice, not Gramm. “Everybody does it,” however, isn’t justification. This is a betrayal of the party that nominated Justice, and a bait-and-switch on the voters.
It is extremely rare for a state governor to switch parties mid-term, according to the Wikipedia list of such turn-coating. Senators are the worst offenders: within recent memory we had the examples of Richard Shelby of Alabama (Democrat to Republican), Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado (Democrat to Republican), Robert Smith of New Hampshire (Republican to Independent, then back to Republican again), James Jeffords of Vermont (Republican to Democrat), Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (Democrat to Independent) and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (Republican to Democrat).
Any elected official who does this to those who voted for him has proven himself (Or herself, but I can’t find any women who have switched parties mid-term) to be unworthy of the support of any party. It would be wonderful if the Republicans told Governor Justice that they don’t appreciate or endorse cheaters, back-stabbers or traitors.
It would also be wonderful if I could fly to Maui by flapping my arms.