Clinton and Obama Gain Support From Former GOP Businessmen Who Reject Bush Policies

The New York Sun reports that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who contributed to George Bush in the past. There are several possible explanations. Many who run businesses which are affected by government actions routinely contribute to both parties or now see the Democrats as the probable winners. Some might even be contributing to a Democrat that they think would make a weaker candidate and improve the chances for a Republican victory. Others are actually rejecting the GOP as a sign of how the parties have been realigning in recent years:

One donor to Mr. Obama professing sincere disillusionment with Mr. Bush is an investment banker from Chicago, John Canning of Madison Dearborn Partners. “It’s not an isolated trend. It appears to be a significant wave,” he said. “I know lots of my friends in this business are disenchanted and are definitely looking for something different.”

In 2004, Mr. Canning was a Bush Pioneer, meaning he pledged to raise $100,000 for the president’s re-election. However, he told the Sun that his support for Mr. Bush was already fading at that time. “I was probably unenthusiastic, but not as strongly as I am now,” Mr. Canning said. He said he ended up not voting at all. “It wasn’t like I thought Kerry was a good deal.”

Mr. Canning, whose defection to Mr. Obama was reported by Bloomberg News, said he was a big fan of Mr. Bush in 2000. However, he said he later fell out with the president and other Republicans over a dispute involving a brain-injured Florida woman, Terry Schiavo, as well as subjects like global warming, stem cell research and diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria. “A lot of these issues didn’t exist when Bush first ran,” the banker said. “How do you support a guy when he shows the door to everything you believe in?”

The Republican move to the far right is causing a realignment in the parties as an increasing number of former Republicans are voting Democratic in opposition to recent GOP policies. Businessmen typically have voted Republican primarily because of GOP promises of lower taxes. While some, such as Dick DeVos of Amway, who ran for Governor of Michigan in 2004, have been long-time advocates of the agenda of the religious right, many long-time Republican businessmen are not advocates of the conservative social agenda. Others are turning away from the Republicans after seeing their inability to govern effectively. A growing number recognize that Republican economic policies are bad for the economy, and in the long term decrease their wealth. Even traditional Democratic policies such as universal heath care are gaining interest among businessmen, as they see the cost of health care as a major problem when competing internationally.

Just over two years after Republicans were speaking of a permanent majority, Democrats are in a position to develop their own majority. This depends upon whether they can maintain the support of professionals and businessmen who are disenchanted with Republican policies. Republicans will continue to attempt to get our votes by painting Democrats as “socialists” who are hostile to the affluent, and who will raise taxes to confiscatory levels. To keep the Republicans from returning to power, Democrats must prove that this is not true in the policies they promote.

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