Chafee sends stern message to GOP

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is turning from red to blue, meaning he’s switching political parties.

The one-time Republican is becoming a Democrat and he’s offering a serious message to the party he’s leaving in his wake. The Republican Party, he says, no longer is friendly to moderates – such as himself. Thus, he is becoming a Democrat to follow his own conscience.

The message also predicts that his former party is going to lose more members if it continues to follow a hardline course in so many issues, including the social issues that are driving so much of the debate these days.

Chafee actually switched from independent to Democrat, but he’s still remembered as the moderate Republican he was when he served in the U.S. Senate, following the footsteps laid down by his late father, Sen. John Chafee.

The elder Chafee’s moderate views also got him trouble while he served in the Senate. He lost his leadership post in the Senate Republican caucus to Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

The larger issue that Lincoln Chafee is trying to deliver is that the Republican Party needs to seek to broaden its base, not shrink it. Other notable Republicans, such as former Sen. Bob Dole and current Sen. John McCain continue to offer stern warnings to their party.

Dole even said recently that former Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan might not be welcome in today’s GOP. Imagine that.

Gov. Chafee’s defection only underscores the intra-party conflict that well might be reshaping the nation’s political landscape. Is anyone within the GOP willing to listen?

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