Over the years there have been some infamous characters in US politics. Ones that have commanded the ire or focus of the public. Some party changers
do it because they want a better chance to be elected, others...maybe they were such a train wreck that they wanted to infect the reputation of the
other party with their character.
While no means comprehensive, as many switched parties in the final days of the Whig Party as they divided into Free Soil and Non-Free Soil before
becoming the Republican Party, here are some of the
one time or another Democrats.
He was a speech writer and advisor as the founding member and recruiter of Roosevelt’s “brain trust.” Credited with FDR’s
use of “The Forgotten Man” and claims to have coined “New Deal” to describe the Progressive policies. A Democrat until mid 1933 when
realization of FDR’s policies and what the DNC was becoming caused him to change to a harsh critic of the New Deal and Liberalism in general. Still
he wrote speeches for FDR until 1936, but 1939’s After
defines his conversion to a conservative Republican.
This was another Democrat that converted due to FDR and his socialist progressive policies that ended up becoming the 1940
Republican candidate after swapping parties in 1939. An early singer of praises for FDR, their conflict came to a head battling over the TVA. Willkie
was a corporate lawyer that found that FDR was bad for private enterprise and is known for famously declaring, "I did not leave my party. My party
left me.” Willkie would not be the last to say that. The odd thing about 1940 was that Willkie did not campaign in the primaries, instead saying he
would accept the nomination counting of public dismissiveness of Dewey’s isolationist stance towards WWII. In the end, Willkie lost by 4.9 million
popular votes (45%) but only took 10 states for 449-82 Electorial College loss.
Yep, one of the most hated and despised people who so personified over zealous which hunts to uncover the original
Russian Collusion as to be the etymological root of the word McCarthyism was a Democrat until 1944. In 1950, he called the Roosevelt-Truman era 20
years of treason. Despite hindsight opinions, McCarthy captured the support of the American people to the point that any Republican with his
endorsement never lost an election. It might be interesting to note that not only have the support of the Catholic voters (about a 25% voting block at
the time) but was never spoken ill of by JFK. Robert even worked for McCarthy as a young lawyer. It would be remiss to omit that after the Soviet
Union’s collapse, records of Russian infiltration efforts show that McCarthy actually underestimated the number of Russian operatives working within
the government and government programs.
A whole thread could be written on Reagan. Instead I will summarize that in the 1980’s with refined grace and elegance, Reagan
defined Conservatism and is credited with the revival of US as a right of center country from the double black eye of McCarthyism and Nixon’s
Watergate. But he wasn’t always a Republican. In his early days, a Democrat that hailed FDR as a hero, he became the president of one of the most
powerful unions, the Screen Actors Guild, in 1947 and was re-elected for seven one year terms dealing with the House Un-American Committee and the
Blacklist Era. Yet he also ferreted out communist sympathizers at the same time as he shifted more toward the right in the 1950’s. However he
didn’t become a Republican until 1962.
Often the poster child of how Republicans are racists because of his views on desegregation. In fact, he called Brown v Board of
Education (1954) decision as the beginning of the Supreme Court instilling liberal leaning views across the United States. A long time Dixiecrat, even
a 1948 third party bid for the presidency, Thurmond didn’t become a Republican until 1964.