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Jeffords follows his heart

Senator James Jeffords is not a bad man. He is not on the take. He is simply following his heart. It’s refreshing to see the kind of politics we are witnessing.

During Attorney General John Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings, every single Republican voted by party line, while 42 Democrats voted for what they believed in.

Just as the Democrats, who had legitimate concerns about Ashcroft, voted their conscience, Jeffords was fed up with the Republican Party and followed his heart.

In his official statement, Jeffords said, “I was not elected to this office to be something that I am not. This comes as no surprise to the people of Vermont, because independence is the Vermont way.”

He went on to say that he disagrees with how the party is being formed since Bush was elected. “In the past, without the presidency, the various wings of the Republican Party in Congress have had some freedom to argue and ultimately to shape the party’s agenda,” Jeffords said. Even Sen. John McCain is coming out and saying the Republican Party needs to grow up. This is the same party that never let Clinton do a single thing as president because it didn’t like his morals. This is the same Republican Party that made Clinton’s appointed judges wait for confirmation hearings for over a year.

And now the tide has turned. President Bush isn’t having it the way he imagined it. The Republicans are no longer the majority in the Senate and the GOP is not happy. And it’s all Jeffords’ fault.

It serves them right. While it is ludicrous to think that the Democrats bribed Jeffords to turn to the independent side, wouldn’t it be funny if they actually did?

The truth is, while Jeffords is not a bad man, he is also not a dumb man either. He realized one of the truisms that will haunt former majority leader Trent Lott as well as Bush.

The fact is that the GOP needed Jeffords more than Jeffords needed the GOP.

Jeffords doesn’t agree with Bush on most issues, especially on women’s choice and education, and he is not going to be strong-armed by his cohorts in the Republican Party to support the man who doesn’t care about him. Again, Jeffords isn’t dumb.

Bush has been getting a reputation for kissing the rears of those who agree with him and shunning the party members who do not, all the while keeping a handful of conservative Democrats in his back pocket, just to help him out when he needs it.

Once Jeffords helped the tax cut go through and realized his services in the party (the same one his family has been involved with since the Civil War by the way) would be pointless, he switched teams.

Actually, he became his own team, and while he’s not necessarily interested in winning, he’s just not interested in being a loser.Sure, his old buddies aren’t inviting him out for beers anymore, but at least he feels important.

And for those who say he is straying from the wishes of the voters in his own state, he is actually giving them more of a voice by becoming the most powerful man in the Senate.

Jeffords isn’t a bad man and he’s not on the take either. He’s just following his heart. He’s doing the job he was hired to do.