In working with Clubs and other organizations and movements involved with the Broward County Democratic Party, I have heard from time to time comments that a particular candidate or politician was not a “real” Democrat. I have always found such an attitude to be puzzling, since there is no widely-accepted standard definition for what is a “real” Democrat. I have personally found that many different causes animate our base. Some are passionate about the environment, some about freedom of choice for women, other are passionate supporters of same-sex marriage. My belief is that there are many types of Democrats, and I do not believe (nor would I support) an ideological purity test for what would be a “real” Democrat.
In addition, it is also puzzling that some Democrats who see themselves as possessing totally inclusive attitudes draw the line when it comes to political moderates that have moved from the Republican Party to our Party. It is flattering that quite a few former Republicans have evolved and have moved closer to political positions espoused by many Democrats, and in the process have formally become registered Democrats. We need to keep in mind that evolving views are also common in the Democratic party – witness Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, and Hillary Clinton, who finally agreed to support same-sex marriage this past summer (when it was politically safe for her to do so).
Gaining the support of former Republicans is good politics, especially when considering an upcoming statewide election and an electorate that is substantially different from that of Broward County. Many former Republicans have left because of the relentless drive rightward of the Republican Party, which has been happening for years now and most recently has been exemplified by the rise of the Tea Party’s attempts to “purify” Republican Party organizations. We should welcome these Republican exiles wholeheartedly and not impose purity tests of our own.
When the time comes, I intend to vote in the Democratic primary for the candidate that at that time I believe strikes the most fear in the heart of the Florida Republican Party and has the best potential of defeating Rick Scott.