by Countable | Updated on 3.26.18
When Mississippi’s state agricultural commissioner, Cindy Hyde-Smith, was recently appointed to fill departing Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, some Republicans in the state took serious issue with the appointment. They say that Hyde-Smith isn’t a true conservative because she switched to Republican from Democrat in 2010 while serving in the state senate.
But switching parties happens more often than you might think. Here are some prominent politicians currently in political office who switched parties over the course of their careers.
Donald Trump: President Trump only became a member of the Republican party in December 2011, changing his registration from "unaffiliated".
Rick Perry: the current Energy Secretary served as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives, but switched his affiliation to Republican in 1988.
Sonny Perdue: the current Agriculture Secretary served as a Democratic elected official in Georgia in the 80’s and much of the 90’s, but switched his affiliation to Republican in 1998.
Jim Justice: the now Republican governor of West Virginia, Justice switched his affiliation from Democrat to Republican just six months after taking office in August 2017, at a rally for President Trump.
Elizabeth Warren: progressive Democrat Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, was a card-carrying Republican until 1996.
Charlie Crist: the former Republican governor of Florida now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat for the 13th District.
Thad Cochran: the outgoing senator being replaced by Hyde-Smith himself changed parties over the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Party switching is actually not that unusual, particularly in the South, where many a Southern Democrat has switched to the Republican party over time. In a 2012 article on the fate of party-switchers, the Washington Post quoted Antoine Yoshinaka, a political science professor, about the history.
"The most fertile ground for party switching has been the South, where Democratic officeholders have switched to the GOP in droves. The trend really started after Reagan's election, picked up in the 1990s and is still ongoing today."
Party switching has always been a part of U.S. history, however. Other notable figures not currently in office who switched party affiliations during their careers include former president Ronald Reagan, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former president Theodore Roosevelt.
Is party switching reasonable, or does it cause you to doubt the sincerity of a candidate’s commitment to their current party?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: redandblack.com)
Written by Countable
People change their minds and beliefs over time, as they should since things change.
Let’s focus less on parties and more on succeeding for the American people that our law-makers are being elected to serve. Personally, I’d rather see a lawmaker change views because they followed the wishes of their constituents than remain stuck on archaic ideals because of party affiliation. I vote to elect a representative to speak on my behalf not on a deaf follower who’s only out for their own agenda and for their party to “win”. When we trivialize political parties to winners and losers, we the people ultimately lose.
If one chooses to switch parties while in office they should step down and run again with their new affiliation. Be who you say you are.
Currently, the Republican party is no longer the Party of Lincoln...If a partie's priorities change and yours do not, then I can see changing your affiliation BUT one certainly should NOT be able to be voted into office by one party and then change your alligance. (sp?) while holding that office. In a case like this, they should be made to step down.
Switching parties: Like Dr. RichSwier, I didn’t leave the Democrat party, the party left me. No longer the diverse party I loved, they only wanted to give voice and credence to some women, not all women, some people of color, not all people of color, not all LGBT individuals, just some. The “some,” were made to adhere to their strict tribal code. Anyone whom stepped out of their defined boxes, were silenced and marginalized. They lost me with that shift. So I ask, “How did the voices of white privileged college kids’ voices become more important than these People of color, Muslim, and LGBT voices—Thomas Sowell’s, Zhudi Jasper, Ayana Hirsi Ali, Tammy Bruce’s—and other conservative voices?” Progressive elitism ruined the Democrat Party, and their tribal ideology is ruining the the nation. So I left my party affiliation and chose to be an Independent. In this political climate—with the Republican Party also leaving their roots and no longer fiscally responsible, I would understand anyone making a similar choice to move away from the established parties.
Muhammad Ali said “anyone who views life at 50 the same as he did at 20 wasted 30 years of his life.”
The thought that any one party is always right or wrong is insanity. I choose who I vote for based not only on the party they represent but the content of their ideas, morals, and actions. It’s how democracy is supposed to work.
I was a JFK Democrat. JFK was a combat veteran, a Catholic, hated Communism, created the U.S. Army Green Berets and introduced the AR-15 rifles into our military. I didn’t leave the Democrats they left me. Those who never belonged to a political party may want to look before leaping.
What’s treasonous is sticking with your party’s ideology when you believe / know that that system of beliefs is dangerous or threatening the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of American Citizens. Example: supporting Citizens United and giving them individual citizen status; gerry-mandering districts; supporting a president who is damaging the country and potentially the rest of the world; doing absolutely nothing about assault weaponry while legislating a woman’s right to her own health care decisions! Those actions are treasonous. Bailing out of a failing, unethical, immoral party is an honorable deed!
If you switch parties in the middle of a term of office can you are guilty of fraud because you ran as one thing and Now claim you are another. You should be prosecuted for fraud and also step down and have to run again under your new party affiliation.
I voted in national elections for the first time in November 75! Voted for Udall in th the primary then turned right around and voted for Ford in the General elections! I never looked back! Four years later I was enlisted and in the Army and guess what? The Military is a Conservative organization!!!!! Me and all my comrades in arms!!!! Dems don’t have any solutions anymore! They have turned to pure socialism and anti Christianity to anti Americanism! Good Bye Dems! RIP!
Parties should not matter. There should be no parties. You work for The People, not a fraternity. To state that a Government position must belong to a specific group, is discriminatory and unethical and is likely treasonous. You simple-minded half human sub-species, do not work for a “Party”, you work for The People. Anyone who believes otherwise, is commuting an act of treason and should be presented in front of the Firing line, since they love guns and death so much.....👊🏻
Sure switching parties is reasonable, but how about we from both sides of the aisle realize that their are elite politicians who are there for profit only on both sides and start holding establishment politicians responsible.
Being able to change ones mind when presented with evidence is the most basic requirement for intellectual honesty. The same is true of political allegiances.
It’s a political party, not a hostage situation. How is this even a question?
Who cares what party you belong to. It’s your actions that count.
Once you are elected to public office I can see it being abused if someone runs as a dem then switches to republican after they're sworn in... but the party system needs to die anyway. There are so many democrats in name only that you can hardly tell the difference anymore. Forget parties, vote for policy. Like for instance if you're anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-working class, anti-environment you'd want to vote for Trump but you wouldn't just vote for only republicans but some of them actually care about the working class, Dreamers, gay rights etc not a lot but they exist... if you are pro all those things you'd be better off voting for people that have progressive voting records regardless of party. so you can see why a two party system doesn't really make sense, people vote for a party wrongly believing that the candidate in that party actually gives a crap what their constituents need. Frankly I think it's becoming one party and more than half the people aren't being represented.
IF THE MORON IN CHARGE IS A REPUBLICAN THEN EVERYONE NEEDS TO CHANGE AFFILIATION OR BE A DICTATOR AND GUILTY OF TREASON AGAINST THE UNITED STATES
I recently changed from republican to independent, because the republican establishment is really just a bunch of spineless lying democrats. They do not represent my conservative values.
Parties change their positions at least as often as people change their parties. When I was a teenager and young adult, much of the Democratic Party (the “Dixiecrats”) was made up of extreme right-wing bigots, racists, and generally hateful people. Now those folks are all staunch Republicans. Why? Because there were major systemic shifts in what both parties stood for.