by John Hawkins | March 30, 2012 2:33 am
David Brooks, who’s not a conservative and probably only continues to call himself a Republican so he can hold a job as a David Frum-style dancing monkey, who criticizes “his own side” for the amusement of the Left, is kvetching because a candidate he liked left the Republican Party.
Nathan Fletcher was raised in Arkansas, played college baseball in California and enlisted in the Marines as a reserve in 1997. He saw combat in 2004, based in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq.
…Fletcher already had political ambitions while he was in the Marines. But he came back from his 10 years in the corps with other attributes. First, survivor’s guilt. The fact that he had survived while others did not gave him a strong sense that he should make the rest of his life count for something. Second, he absorbed the military’s spirit of can-do pragmatism. Third, he is impatient with military metaphors applied to politics.
He ran for the California State Legislature and won. His legislative career was an extension of his intelligence work – meeting with people unlike himself and trying to strike arrangements. He championed a bipartisan law rewriting the state’s sex crimes legislation to be consistent with the latest research.
He was one of very few Republicans willing to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, over a tax reform plan. He gave an impassioned speech against “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He became friends with the Democratic speaker.
Fletcher is tall, good-looking, smart, polished (maybe too much so) and moderate. An article in The Sacramento Bee touted him as a rising Republican star, the kind of Republican who could get elected statewide. It didn’t hurt that his wife has worked for George W. Bush and other Republicans.
The next step was obvious: Run for mayor of San Diego. The city has a tradition of electing pragmatic center-right Republicans. Fletcher ran on some conservative ideas – pension reform and fiscal conservatism – and some less conventionally conservative ones – open space, bike paths and environmental policies. He’s also for comprehensive immigration reform.
He was endorsed by Paul Jacobs, the chairman and chief executive of Qualcomm. Both Mitt and Ann Romney, who have a place in San Diego, maxed out to his campaign, giving $500 each.
But as Scott Lewis of voiceofsandiego.org has detailed, the San Diego Republican Party has moved sharply right recently. A group of insurgents have toppled the old city establishment. As Lewis wrote, “The Republican Party has gone through a fantastically effective effort to enforce conformity around its principles.”
…On Wednesday, in a move reflecting long-term disillusionment and in an effort to shake up the campaign, Fletcher said he is leaving the Republican Party. He is becoming an independent. In his announcement video, he railed against the strategy he saw in both parties – the unwillingness to negotiate with the other side to keep it from being able to take credit for any accomplishment.
I admire Nathan Fletcher’s service in Iraq and I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice fellow — well, for a politician — but guys like him have been ruining the Republican Party. Republicans who acted like Nathan Fletcher destroyed the party’s brand in the Bush years. Why should we want more wishy-washy, Democrat-lite Republicans? In some bluer areas, we might be stuck with candidates like Nathan Fletcher, but that’s just an unfortunate reality.
Getting beyond that, ask yourself an extremely basic question: Why in the world would Republicans want to support a candidate who shares so few values with them that he’s willing to leave the party because he has an uphill road in an election? David Brooks might love the guy, but David Brooks isn’t a conservative or even a Republican in any meaningful sense. Why in the world should conservatives, who make up 40% of the country and a large majority of the Republican Party, want to put a guy in office who’s going to disappoint them over and over again?
If conservative Republicans in California are actually trying to get principled conservatives into office, good for them. More Republicans should follow their example and if it means less Republican candidates like Nathan Fletcher, who don’t represent the values of the people who elected them, then so much the better.
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