I grew up a Democrat. My dad, determined to get Nixon out, ran Henry “Scoop” Jackson’s 1972 Ohio primary campaign. In the 36 years since Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, I have voted Democratic, with few exceptions.
On Monday afternoon, I walked into my town hall and changed my registration. I am now a Republican.
I am not coming out of stealth mode to support the Republicans’ 2016 victory. On the contrary, I have been struggling with how to meaningfully oppose the White House. The new administration has proved to be a shrewdly formidable enemy of fundamental American values and common sense.
Before making my choice, I reviewed the options. I rallied in Copley Square on Sunday, and it felt good. But honestly, I didn’t feel like I was having much impact. Many of the rallies’ messages are designed for the like-minded and will end up trapped in the echo chamber.
After further consideration, two facts emerged.
First, for things to change, alignments must change. That’s how Stephen Bannon won, and that is how he will lose.
Boston College history professor Heather Richardson notes how the Bannon-led agenda resembles a series of “shock events” designed to distract and destabilize opposition. Richardson sees parallels to Confederate calls to secede, which created Union schisms. Lincoln’s successful response: Build new coalitions unified against new enemies.
My conclusion: Stop preaching to the choir. Look past old barriers, find new connections, learn from them, and work together toward newfound common goals.
Second, Washington’s swing voters are now all Republicans. The GOP good guys are the difference between a majority and a minority. If Cabinet nominees and executive orders are to be stopped, it will be because of Senators John McCain, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Jeff Flake. Governor Charlie Baker is another GOP good guy, with a bully pulpit.
These Republicans need our support to be bold. They take a risk standing up to the White House, and they need to know we’ve got their backs. As their now-fellow Republican, I am making that pledge.