Ex-Republicans in charge

Ex-Republicans in charge

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her formal announcement on Sunday that she was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.

feed-image-1-Hillary-Clinton

Image by HillaryClinton.com

Hillary Clinton, once the President of the Wellesley College Young Republicans, enters the fray with another ex-Republican.  Democrat Jim Webb, the former Virginia Senator, served as an assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan.  The national stage of Presidential politics however is not the only one shared by once dyed-in-the-wool party line GOP members.  A few candidates for office in my very own local Tulsa County Democratic Party also shared such a past commonality.

TCDPConventionCredential

On Saturday this past weekend, all precinct officers from the Tulsa County Democratic Party assembled at the local Transport Workers Union of America meeting hall.  It was a wonderful feeling to be in the company of over 100 like minded folks, all fellow residents of the precincts surrounding the Mother Road’s most conservative segment.  In addition to the mundane chores of approving the party platform resolutions which included our stance on equine slaughterhouses, adults smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own home and discussing various other business items, the Convention elected a new slate of officers to serve the next two years.  The new Chair of the TCDP is another ex-Republican who served as Vice Chair the last two years, one Ms. Jo Glenn.  According to Jo, she had her epiphany some fifteen years ago during the waning days of the Clinton Administration when she queried herself as to why she was a member of the GOP when their values did not prove consistent with hers.  She then changed her party affiliation and like most of us who once were something other than card carrying Democrats, she never looked back.

Jo_Glenn

TCDP Chair-Elect Jo Glenn

The candidate who was elected to Vice Chair is a long time Tulsa Democrat who was educated at Oral Roberts University, Greg Bledsoe.  I do not know if Greg was ever a Republican.  Like several others I know who got their fill of conservative evangelical Christian indoctrination at ORU, he turned away from it and is now a member of All Souls Unitarian Church.  He is an employment attorney by profession and has served previously as the OK 1st Congressional District Democratic Party Secretary.

GregBledsoe

Vice Chair-Elect Greg Bledsoe

The Secretary-Elect is a life-long Tulsa Democrat by the name of Elizabeth Buchner.  Elizabeth has just reached the age where she is no longer a member of Oklahoma Young Democrats.  Her youth reflects our party’s appeal to the younger demographic.

The challenger to each of these candidates was a young man by the name of David Wilson.  David is another ex-Republican from the Tulsa satellite community of Jenks.  David is a newcomer to the Democratic Party and his enthusiasm is as contagious as it is admirable.  I am sure I speak for many when I say that the votes for the other candidates were never against David.  They were for the experience the others brought to the table.  I must say that anyone that exudes the sort of energy David Wilson does has a bright future in the Democratic Party.

The phenomenon of ex-Republicans being in charge is something that extends all the way down to the grassroots level of precinct leadership.  In the photo below, yours truly is flanked by two ex-Republican Democratic Precinct Chairs:

ThreeFormerConservatives

Left to right:  Russ Butler, Route66Kid, Allison Spicer

I myself have only been a Democrat since 2004.  Prior to that I was a registered Independent.  During my all my active duty years in the U.S. Navy I was staunchly conservative.  I voted for President Reagan twice, President Bush 41 once and for Bob Dole in 1996.  I also remember voting for many Republicans in the down ballot races.  During those years in spite of all my conservative leanings, much of which was reinforced by religious association, I could never bring myself to join the Republican Party.  Even then it could not pass the smell test.  The 130+ members of the Reagan Administration what were investigated, prosecuted, convicted and/or otherwise dismissed from office under less-than-honorable circumstances could have had something to do with that.  I vividly remember being stationed at Camp Pendleton in October 1988 and receiving my Oklahoma Absentee Ballot in the mail.  It contained four pages of down ballot races and state questions I had no clue about.  We did not have the Internet then or even really any sort of easy access to information so for the first time in my life I actually reached out and called the Tulsa County Republican Party for help.  All I asked for was some basic information on the candidates and the issues on the ballot.  I vividly remember being told that nobody there knew anything and could offer no advice.  I did something I would never recommend or endorse, I casted a very uneducated ballot.  That experience stayed with me though.  The further I became removed from organized religion and belief in deity the easier it was for me to see that my personal core values of integrity, human compassion and search for truth really had nothing in common with the values of the GOP.  See below:

GOP Platform

It wasn’t until a very personal and public confrontation with a religious conservative during a busy work day that I finally got knocked off the fence. That was nearly eleven years ago.  As soon as I was able after that incident I went to the local Tag Agent and got the “I” taken off my voter ID and had a “D” put on it and never looked back!  That whole experience is in and of itself is quite a story for another post.

Yes, we are being led by many solid Democrats who were once upon a time Republicans.  What does that say about the respective parties?  President Reagan was fond of the phrase, “Some change principle for party.  Others change party for principle.”  I say if the boots fit then pull ’em on and walk Old Route 66, or at least walk to an old Chevy and then motor on down the Mother Road!  Ride with us retooled Dems.  I think you’ll like where we are going.

20141130_151823-1

6 Comments

  1. Route66Kid
    May 3, 2015

    As it turns out, Greg Bledsoe actually joined the Republican Party for a whopping three months in 1980 out of disillusionment with President Carter. He stayed long enough to vote in their primary and supported Independent Jon Anderson in the 1980 General Election. He has verbalized his regret for doing so. He switched back to the Democratic Party afterward.

  2. Russ Butler
    Apr 14, 2015

    I had no idea that you were also a Rep. It was what everyone one was when I was in the military. I didn’t know anything except what the sarge told me. Kill, kill, kill!

    I voted for them too.

    It was when we did Shock and Awe, that made me stop and think. We are assholes. No wonder they fucking hate us.

  3. Michel Provencher
    Apr 13, 2015

    I’ve gone back and forth party wise so many times I’m sure what party you’re registered is the most important thing regarding the voting process. One should see what it’s like at the grass roots level from both parties.

    Having gone back and forth between the two parties has made me more aware of the core differences in the parties platform issues (sorry never thought being an Independent was a real option).

    It’s hard to admit to being a Republican right now for the way they’re all over the map; in your faith, in your bedroom, in your uterus and then selling your soul out for big corporation profits on top of all their other foolishness.

    But, I’ll say this Stan: I have voted more in line with the Democrats than you have. I even voted for McGovern back in the day…

    Loved your update, made me reflect on how I’ve changed in seeing things over the years too. Lets hope the issues and the stance on the issues and the vision for leading this country moving forward remain the most important points to this presidential election. If not, let the Republicans be dammed to eat dust.

    I’ll close in saying this: I hope Hillary finds some styling boots!

  4. Becky Kirk
    Apr 13, 2015

    Hillary’s affiliation with the R was passed down from her parents. She “saw the light” when she was quite young and during involvement with what she saw as corrupt GOP politics. She claims to be a Christian as do many Dems, including myself. It is possible to understand reason while maintaining a religious spirit.

  5. Calvin Rees
    Apr 13, 2015

    there re more ex-republicans to n Party leadership. The past chair and the new chair of the Oklahoma County Democratic Party, and myself.

  6. Ann Kent
    Apr 13, 2015

    I like your story, Stan. I, too, am a new Democrat since the Clinton era.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Memorializing a wrong and worn out narrative | Reason Rest Stop - […] life.  It is very telling about the state of the Republican Party when so many of its former members are now…