He re-elected George W. Bush. Now he wants Democrats to elect him

A conversation with Matthew Dowd about his campaign for lieutenant governor of Texas and the question of what the left should do with Republican defectors

The most fortunate refugees on earth are those defecting from the Republican Party. You see them on the news; you enjoyed their Lincoln Project ads; maybe you bought the book one wrote to cash in on telling the truth now that it was of scant use to us.

Politics is, as the saying goes, a game of addition. So, on one level, you want anyone you can get to abandon Team Tyranny and sign up for Team Democracy. But then it gets more complicated. Should these recent converts not only vote with you but also lead? Should they be the ones representing the pro-democratic position on television? Should they now be the ones running as Democrats against their former colleagues?

As I put it directly to one of these defectors, Matthew Dowd, in the conversation below, “There is a fine line between giving people space for redemption, having a welcoming movement, on one hand, and, on the other hand, putting those people in leadership roles ahead of other people who saw a certain truth all along.”

Matthew is a veteran political strategist who probably entered your consciousness when he ran President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. (Mind you, the campaign for W. that was after the Iraq war began.) He broke with Bush a few years later, one of the first and most visible insiders to do so. And he’s had many lives since then, on television and as an investor. Now he wants to be the lieutenant governor of Texas. And he’s running as a Democrat.

The conversation we had touched on many things: Who was worse, Bush or Trump? Is Bush a war criminal? Would Matthew engage in the civil disobedience of driving a woman in his life to get an abortion in Texas? Does he think people like him involved in electing truth-challenged Republicans should jump to the front of the line of leadership as a Democrat?

I hope you enjoy it. Share your thoughts below in the comments.

This post is for paid subscribers