That’d be Michael Smerconish of the Philadelphia Inquirer, of whom I had never heard until the N&R started running his columns occasionally:
It took only the single tap of a computer key, and just like that I’d exited the Republican Party after 30 years of active membership. The context might sound impulsive, but I’d been thinking of becoming an independent for a long time. I just hadn’t expected that a trip to renew my driver’s license would mark the end.
Just before my photo was snapped, I was asked if I wanted to register to vote. For me, the question was borderline offensive. I first registered after turning 18 in the spring of 1980 and haven’t missed an election since. And I’m not just talking presidential races. I mean all elections. Congress, town council, school board, whatever.
“I’m already registered,” I offered. Next came the unexpected question of whether I wished to change my political affiliation. I’m not sure why that is asked of someone renewing a driver’s license, and I question whether it is even appropriate for most. But in my case, it was the only impetus I needed. …
The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe …
Just for the record, I’m still a Republican and my driver’s license is good until 2018.
Smerconish goes on to claim that both parties “seek to advance strict ideological agendas.” In reality, as we have seen during the health-care debate, that’s far more true of Republicans than Democrats. Moreover, for better or worse, that trend accurately reflects the mood of the electorate. Most so-called moderates actually identify pretty strongly with one major party or the other right now; it would shock David Broder to know this, but the proportion of truly independent voters is in the mid-single digits.