The tweet reads, “I just donated to a Democrat for the first time in my life if any of yall want to do so as well. Enough is Enough.” He includes a link to Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones’ contribution page. The tweeter is not just any Republican. He’s a veteran operative and strategist who worked for Jeb Bush named Tim Miller.
The sentiment is not remarkable and the action shouldn’t be, but in the hyper-partisan world of 21st century politics, the tweet had over 13,000 retweets and counting. Miller’s response highlights the divide within the GOP over Roy Moore and the highly credible accusations that he pursued relationships with teenage girls when he was a district attorney in his 30s. Miller represents a wing of the GOP that rejects the most tribal instincts of his party. Donald Trump, in contrast, embraces those who believe any Republican is better than a Democrat. Trump is joined by evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and James Dobson.
Miller’s action also probably foreshadows the political realignment taking place in the country. The shift won’t happen quickly but over the next few years, more Republicans will leave their party and vote their conscience instead. They won’t embrace the Democratic Party but Democrats will likely benefit.
In response, the Democratic Party will slowly shift to become the dominant centrist party in the country. The cultural reckoning over sexual harassment and abuse will drive women away from a party that’s willing to protect predators. Younger voters of all races may identify as independent but will start shaping the Democratic Party in their image. They will be less ideological, more moderate and more tolerant than the wings that are shaping both parties today. They will provide room for moderate Republicans like Miller who are fleeing the transformation of their party into a white nationalist, male-dominated institution.
The realignment will take place over years, not months, but reminds me of the one after Reagan took power in 1981. It began with Democrats voting for Republicans and then conservative Democrats in office switching parties. By the end of the Reagan presidency, the GOP was the dominant party despite Democrats still controlling Congress. They were led by traditional conservatives of the free-market, small government variety. Today, that branch of the party is in steep decline, eclipsed by the social conservatives and populists they invited into the GOP during the Southern Strategy.
Conservatives who adhere to principles instead of tribal obligations will increasingly find themselves without a home. Over time, they’ll likely find themselves supporting Democrats, building a centrist coalition within the party. Meanwhile, the GOP will continue its transformation into a largely white, rural and working class party. We’ll see a lot of Sturm and Drang before the dust settles, though.