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November 02, 2013 3:08 PM The Tent Just Got Bigger

By Martin Longman

I welcome Jason Thigpen into the Democratic Party. I actually agree with him about a lot of things. But, on policy? Not so much.

Mr. Thigpen was a Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat in North Carolina before the party shut the government down. Now he is a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat in North Carolina. He’s a veteran who served in Iraq. He’s a staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment, although he does express an interest in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. He supports a strong national defense and believes America has a duty to do humanitarian and nation-building missions. He wants us to get serious about entitlement reform and he wants to lower government spending and reduce taxes and regulations, although he supports smart investments in infrastructure. He wants higher standards in our education system, although he appears to oppose charter schools.

He seems to me to be a conventional Republican of the Bush Era, with a little bit more overall common sense.

“Enough is enough,” says Jason R. Thigpen - formerly a Republican candidate seeking election to the U.S. House in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. “After discussing it with my wife and family, I’ve decided to run as a Democrat rather than a Republican. I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.”

And a bit more of his diatribe:

Thigpen further explains, “I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one Party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans. Whether white, black, Hispanic, Asian, man, woman, gay, lesbian, straight, rich, or poor - we fought together as equals, side-by-side for the benefit of every American in the same. So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable. This same group of spineless legislators piggybacked a motorcycle safety bill with legislation intentionally geared to shut down women’s health clinics because of their ‘right righteous’ beliefs on abortion, while then cutting funding to the programs which help feed and provide healthcare to the babies they invariably forced the same women to have. Sounds like the Christian thing to do, huh? These legislators, acting under the guise of the religious right and morality believe themselves to be the divine judge but according to the Bible, there is only one judge. They say they’re for a smaller government and individual rights while pushing legislation for more government intervention and regulation usurping our right to choose for ourselves. They take money away from the public school system so they can call it broken, only to give the money to their charter schools that are really private schools, just so our kids don’t go to the same school as theirs all the while giving some great speech trying to convince us it isn’t segregation. Right. But all along, they seemingly want you to believe that you have a choice - like ‘cake or death.’

He’s running against Walter “Freedom Fries” Jones, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party back in 1994. So, that’s kind of interesting. Rep. Jones had an epiphany about his early support for Dick & George’s Excellent Adventure in Iraq and is now very disinclined to support the kind of nation-building efforts that Thigpen thinks we must undertake as part of our national duty. That’s an interesting contrast, too.

I’m not sure what the Congressional Democrats will do with Mr. Thigpen if he actually wins this race, but I do see some areas of sincere agreement. He doesn’t like racialized politics; he respects the right to vote; he sees charter schools as a proxy for segregation; he sees the hypocrisy in denying assistance to young mothers at the same time that you oppose abortion rights; he wants to make smart infrastructure investments; he can probably support immigration reform, and he might go along with expanded criminal background checks for gun purchases. On the other hand, there are several areas related to foreign policy and surveillance where I am probably more aligned with Rep. Jones.

Nothing is simple. I’ll be keeping an eye on North Carolina’s 3rd District. And I’ll be looking for other examples of solid Republicans leaving their party in disgust.

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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