Lincoln Chaffee Changes Party Affiliation a 4th Time

Francis Folz | @FrancisFolz

Over the past decade, there has been a movement of public icons transitioning from the two establishmentarian parties to America’s new and attractive third parties. Gary Johnson switched over from the Republican party in 2012, Joe Miller and Bill Weld in 2016, and in 2019 the Libertarian Party (of Wyoming) has accumulated a former Rhode Island governor, senator, and Democratic presidential hopeful Lincoln Chafee.

For anyone unfamiliar with Mr. Chafee, his political progression started in 1999 when he appointed to the U.S. Senate as a Republican after his father’s passing. In 2000, a convincing margin of Rhode Islanders elected him, despite George Bush, the Republican presidential hopeful, not even receiving a third of their votes.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chafee lost his re-election bid in the Democratic wave of 2006 to Sheldon Whitehouse. However, this setback would not keep Lincoln out of politics for long. In 2010, Lincoln Chafee was sent to the Rhode Island governor’s mansion as an Independent, winning the largest plurality of votes between the two parties.

During his stint as governor, Mr. Chafee changed his political affiliation yet again in 2013. This time, he changed it from Independent to Democrat. His transition to the Democratic party was hardly a surprise at the time since he had endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and later co-chaired Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. His duration with the Democratic party culminated with a brief presidential run in 2016.

Lincoln Chafee in Wyoming

Now as he settles into Wyoming, which he has described as a “new adventure”, Mr. Chafee has decided to settle in as Libertarian as well. Speaking to the Boston Globe while visiting the Ocean State, Mr. Chafee stated that he switched his political affiliation once again to the philosophy he has always maintained: fiscally conservative, socially liberal.

To his credit, he has had some libertarian inklings in the past. He was the lone Republican senator to vote against the War in Iraq and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which limited habeas corpus rights of enemy combatants. Mr. Chafee has also lamented how some of our rights, particularly the 4th amendment, have been violated by our government.

Straying from the Second Amendment

However he strays from many libertarians on the second amendment, often supportive of some restrictions on a right that “shall not be infringed”, and on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact which would effectively transform the United States from a liberal republic to a tyrannical democracy.

Time will tell how long Mr. Chafee resides in the Libertarian party and if he plans to seek any office during his Libertarian tenure. If Mr. Chafee could improve some of his policy positions and review classical libertarian doctrine, he could find himself an enduring home and a leader within America’s most popular third party. And who knows, maybe even another public office.


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