|picture from: https://twitter.com/gopteens|
The major feeling among long standing Republicans is that these "New Republicans" are simply coming over to the party because they can win as Republicans. That may be true in many cases. However, Republican can not assume it is true in all cases.
Over the years many Republican party members have complained that often people will tell candidates, "Oh, you need to file as a Democrat. You'll never win as a Republican." This attitude has been almost a routine type in the south until recently. Now that attitude is changing, and people are starting to say, "Run as a Republican, if you want to win." Loyal party members on both sides have disliked this policy, but they have rarely complained about it when the candidate running wins and holds the office as a Republican or as a Democrat. It has been a simply fact of politics going back to the first elections in the United States-Nobody walks in and says, "Hi, I'd like to run for office. Which party can I run on that has the least likely chance of winning?" No, they have always sought to run on the winning ticket.
Basically the Republican party has no real rules to deal with Democrats leaving their party to join. Traditionally the National RNC has accepted new members without question. The state Republican Party of Arkansas has also welcomed people crossing from the Democrats to Republican with open arms. For the most part the county committees across the state of Arkansas have welcomed the switch. In many cases the party switch adds to the number of delegates each county committee has for state or district events. The formula to determine how many delegates each county has is based on the number of Justices of the Peace on one level and Constitutional Officers on the next. However, there are always those that do not like the switch. Ultimately there are only a handful of likely reasons that someone switches parties.
The first, and at least the most glaring potential reason in Arkansas at this time for a Democrat to Abandon ship is the election process itself. In many cases it is completely plausible that Democrats leave their party because they have seen the shift in Arkansas. They realize that more Republican candidates are being elected. They want to continue to hold their current office, seek a higher office or a different office, or run for a first time on a winning ticket. To be blunt, some of them may have had Republican ideas at heart all along, but it is more likely these individuals simply had winning an election at heart all along.
The second reason that someone might change parties is a change of the party platform or views. Ronald Reagan changed parties around the early 1950s. He had been a Democrat and was influenced to change, most believe, by Richard Nixon. Reagan made the change saying that the party had left him. Nobody in the either party can deny that the last DNC meeting before President Obama was nominated again was filled with disagreements. One of the major disagreements that became glaring, and to this day can be watched on YouTube, was the placement of the name "God" in the platform. Many people did not want that. In the video most are adamantly opposed to the word "God" being used in anyway. The DNC took three votes and finally, on a verbal vote only and with a pastor calling the vote, declared that the DNC accepted the terminology that would include "God". To many Americans, it did not appear that that the vote carried as the pastor declared. While Republicans may often feel they have a cornerstone on love for "God", the fact is there are many on the Democrat side who are also supporters and love "God". With the platform almost changing, you could see that many supporters were upset. So often a person may leave the party because like Reagan, the party left them.
The third reason that someone may leave a party is purely historical. Perhaps for years the Democrat has had Republican views, but he or she grew up Democrat. Maybe the Democrat has voted with Republicans, supported Republican ideas, and even found himself or herself close friends with Republicans. In the words of many Reagan fans, this person may be a "Reagan Democrat". It's possible that early in their political career they were told, "The only way you will win is as a Democrat." They took that advice to heart and won. Now they see the tide is turning and for the first time they have an opportunity to still do good and work for society, but to do it as a Republican - where their heart has always been- instead of a Democrat. One of the things that Ronald Reagan did, that I actually did when I left the Democratic Party was make a list of all the political figures, and views that I admired. Like Reagan (that's exciting for me to type!) I also found that most of my heroes of politics had been Republicans since the party came to life. I also found that all my views lined up with the views of the Republican Party. I had grown up in the south where it was traditional for your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to be Democrat. So, I was a Democrat, but when I looked at how I had been voting, and how I had been in my support, the truth of the matter was I was being a Democrat by name only and a Republican by heart.
So, in conclusion, you can see there is likely only three reasons a person would change. They are either jumping ship from the Democrats simply to win, the Democrat Party has truly "left them behind", or they have always been a Republican at heart and now have the opportunity to still serve as a Republican or came to the conclusion that they are a Republican. While those appear to be the only reasons someone would want to change, the bottom line is that we as a party, and as individuals, can not truly know why someone wants to change. We can suspect they want to change because of the changing political climate, such as Arkansas'. However, in truth all we can do is accept the person at his or her word when they state why they have decided to change and move forward....we are not mind readers, and to date the Republican Party does not have a test that will decide if a person is a true Republican or not. There are those, many close friends of mine and people I love and respect, who believe that Democrats are abandoning ship just for the votes to win. They may be right, or....they may be wrong. With at least three potential reasons listed here, and one of those reasons the reason I changed parties years ago, we must admit that we do not have access to anyone's inner thinking and therefore we can not know what people truly feel and think when they change to the Republican Party. Maybe we just have to accept, move forward together as a party, after all, in politics isn't it always about having the numbers to win the vote in the end?