Switching from Republican to Democrat, or vice versa

Former Phoenix Suns superstar Charles Barkley is considering the possibility of running for Governor of Alabama in 2010. Nothing especially notable about that (outside of the celebrity factor) but what is worth noting is his announcement that if he did decide to seek the Alabama Governor’s office in 2010, he’d so so as a Democrat because he’s no longer a Republican. Via AP:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has changed his political uniform from red to blue and is talking again about running for governor of Alabama, possibly in 2010.

“Alabama, that’s my home. I’m thinking about running for governor; they need the help,” Barkley said.


Barkley, a Leeds native, has been talking about running for governor of his home state since he was playing with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. In 1995, he said he was considering running in 1998 as a Republican but that never materialized.

After that, Barkley continued to identify himself as a Republican until recently, when he switched to the Democratic team.

“I was a Republican until they lost their minds,” he said earlier this month at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada.

“Sir Charles” reinforced that Tuesday while speaking to a convention of public school board members in Destin, Fla.

“What I’ve said is I’m rich like a Republican. But I’m not one,” Barkley said in remarks reported by The Birmingham News.

I don’t know what issues he has with the Republican party that were so bad he decided to part company with them, but I do believe that there is more at play here than just him being disgusted with Republicans. As someone who herself switched parties back in the early-to-mid 90s, I can speak with experience when I say that when you switch from Democrat to Republican or vice versa, you don’t do it because you’ve had it with your party: you do it because your beliefs have changed radically, or just enough to make you feel like you have more in common philosophy-wise with one party over the other.

Think about it this way: had I been disgusted with the direction Democrats were headed back when I affiliated myself with Democrats, I likely would have switched to the Green party or some other left-wing political party. Another example: there are conservatives today who are upset with the Republican party and who have considered or are considering switching to the Libertarian party, or some other right-wing based political party. That makes perfect sense. What wouldn’t make sense would be, for example, for me to state “I’m a fiscal conservative who is upset with how Republicans have spent taxpayer money like wildfire on ridiculous pork projects – so I’m hereby declaring myself a Democrat!” – because I know good and well the Democrats would be even worse.

That seems to be what Barkley is doing here – he claims that he believes the Republican party has “lost their minds” but instead of working within the party to change things, he’s switched parties altogether. Which tells me that it’s not so much the Republican party who has disgusted Barkley but more like that Barkley’s had a change of heart over the years in how he views political issues.

I should also note that I could care less about whether or not Barkley runs – but I thought that his declaration of a switch in party affiliation was a good springboard to discuss the issue of why people switch parties.

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