In a move that is perplexing many, North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp traveled on Air Force One today with President Trump back to her home state. After traveling together, Heitkamp held an event with the President as he begins the rollout of his attempt at a massive tax cut for the rich.
The question on many people’s lips is whether this signals that Heitkamp will be switching her party allegiance as happened earlier this year when West Virginia Governor Jim Justice held an event with President Trump and switched his party affiliation. Justice had previously been a Republican and had switched to the Democratic Party to run for Governor in a state where many voters reflexively vote for Democrats at the statewide, if not the federal level.
Trump: "Senator Heidi Heitkamp, she’s a good woman, and I hope we’ll have her support." pic.twitter.com/bRsCwrHMrR
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) September 6, 2017
This is why Heitkamp’s allegiance to the Democratic Party is being questioned. Following the election of Donald Trump in 2016 many spineless Democrats have chosen to pander to the darker side of politics as they worry about reelection. Heitkamp is up for reelection in 2018 and is considered by some to be the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in America. Party loyalty has grown weak over the last decade and we’ve seen candidates cynically try to switch parties before.
Some will remember that Senator Arlen Specter switched parties in 2010 and couldn’t even win the primary election after he did and Senator Jim Jeffords who chose not to run for reelection after he switched.
Max Baucus is an interesting name to bring up here as many people have strong feelings on him, his party allegiance and ultimately his legacy. Baucus grew up in a Republican household and it was not until after college that he chose to become a Democrat and run for the state legislature in the early 70’s. Baucus was always elusive on party politics and often crossed over for votes.
It was in 2001, after Baucus voted for the last massive tax cut package for the rich, that many Democrats could no longer stand idly by. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 were disastrous. The revenue lost from 2001-2011 was so massive that it accounted for 40% of the increase in the national debt. Lowering taxes on ultra-rich billionaires during two wars is disgustingly irresponsible and anyone who does it should be voted out of office. We currently are still engaged in wars in Afghanistan and with Daesh.
I remember being involved in many discussions of a primary for Baucus in 2002. In 2008 I was even asked to join a draft committee to find a primary challenger for him. I declined the invitation and still wonder if I made the right decision.
It was only after Baucus’ disastrous decision to vote against background checks for criminals and violent individuals with mental health issues that his polls numbers sunk so low that he never ran for reelection again.
Heitkamp is the last Democrat in the U.S. Senate who voted against these background checks. Will she remain loyal to her state, her voters, and her values or will we see another moderate populist lost to the DC beltway?