The L.A. Times on Susana Martinez of New Mexico, the nation’s first elected Latina governor:
Martinez decided to run against the incumbent district attorney in 1996 while still a registered Democrat, like most voters in Doña Ana County. Local Republicans invited her and her husband, Chuck Franco, to lunch to discuss issues such as the death penalty, taxes and government spending. Martinez suspected they were on a recruiting mission.
“I remember telling my husband, ‘We’re going to be very polite. We’re going to say thank you very much and we’re going to leave,’ ” she said. Afterward, “We got in the car, we looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God, we are Republicans! Now what do we do?’ ”
She switched her party registration, fully expecting to lose the election, but drew enough Democratic crossover votes to defeat her opponent. She handily won three reelection races — the last time running unopposed.
Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, recently explained to a group in Michigan the genesis of her political transformation:
I was a reasonable, fair-minded Democrat. And another secret you need to know: My husband and I met in college. We worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. It’s true, it’s true. This is like a 12-step meeting here today, you know that. Because I am here to admit to you, I’m a Minnesotan who had “DFL” – that’s what we call Democrats in our state – stamped on my birth certificate, worked for Jimmy Carter. The first time I ever went to Washington, DC, I went to dance at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball! It gets worse!
Until I was reading this snotty novel called ‘Burr,’ by Gore Vidal, and read how he mocked our Founding Fathers. And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, ‘You know what What he’s writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend — just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country — I knew that that was not representative of my country.
And at that point I put the book down and I laughed. I was riding a train. I looked out the window and I said, ‘You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don’t think I’m a Democrat.’
I think we can all understand how Gore Vidal could produce such a cathartic response from any fair-minded reader.
In mid-2009, we mentioned another earlier example of a former leftist mugged by reality, and how much the reaction it engendered echoed a story told by Harry Stein (and reprinted here) in his recent book, I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican, now out in paperback.
My favorite tale in this regard comes from a friend who lives in Park Slope. She reports creating level-red discomfort, when the talk on a recent evening turned to gay marriage. Everyone was for it, of course, including my friend. “But wouldn’t it bother you if your own children were gay?” she added, all innocent curiosity. “After all, isn’t it natural to want your kids to mirror your experience? To have a traditional marriage and raise children in the traditional way? I can’t think of anything that would make them more foreign.” She reports that, hearing this, the liberals around the table “got very flustered — because of course they feel exactly the same way. There was a long silence, and then someone said: ‘I would be much more upset if my kids were Republican,’ and that let everyone off the hook.
Back in May, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez explained his own coming out to the Annual California Republican Assembly Convention:
I remember many years since, trying to contemplate the idea of joining the Grand Old Party, and I said I better run this through Mom. I said, “Ma, Dad, sit down, I want to talk to you.” Before I could go any further, they said, “Oh, my God, he’s gay. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Ay, Dios mio, he’s gay.” I said, “No, no, no, Mom, I’m thinking of being a Republican.” She said, “I wish you were gay. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Please look, what have we done?”
Read on, for what finally pushed Rodriguez from blue to red.
As to the responses from Rodriguez’s mom and the dinner guests of Stein’s Park Slope friend? That’s the topic of Andrew Klavan’s latest video; click here to watch.
Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey writes today, “Rasmussen poll shows GOP lead on party affiliation largest in years” — as Ed quips, “Alternate headline: Media pollsters hardest hit. How will those pollsters whose results rely on double-digit Democratic advantages in sampling cope with the reality of a Republican plurality?”
Though as Ed also notes, “The question will really be how long it will last:”
If Republicans deliver on their promises to cut spending and hold the line on taxes, that plurality may remain past the normal post-electoral period after a big win. Note that the last trough for the Democrats was after the 2002 midterms, when George Bush defied expectations and extended his Congressional majorities, and the most recent low point for Republicans came just after the 2008 presidential election. The peaks and valleys don’t last long, and the bigger question will be whether those voters remain patient enough for Republicans to fulfill their promises through what will necessarily be an incremental process, with the Democrats still in control of the White House and Senate.