Over at Newsweek.com last week I wrote about the future of Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and, by extension, the "old school" Northeastern Republican tradition in these Tea Partying times.
As sometimes happens, some interesting material ended up on the cutting room floor by the time the piece passed through editing. In this case, it was former Republican Senator (and current independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island) Lincoln Chafee's thoughts on the future of this "Teddy Roosevelt" or "Rockefeller" Republican tradition, now that even Sunbelt conservatives are being challenged from the right.
“Ultimately I don’t think we can all survive as unaffiliated independents, and the Democratic Party hasn’t proven attractive for us,” Chafee told me. “I think a third party, a progressive party, might have to be formed so we can have a true home and organization.”
The Chafee family's G.O.P ties go far deeper than those of the current national party leadership, most of whom were Southern Democrats until the 1970s. The son of a Republican senator and governor, great-great-grandson of another governor, and great-great-nephew of two more, Chafee's remarks highlight the historic sea change in the party in recent decades, which could now be said to be the Party of Lincoln in Name Only.