Senator Jim Jeffords Died Today. Watch the Moving Speech He Gave Defecting From the GOP.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/civilrights/2316182823/in/photolist-4wF3sB-aQts8i-aQtuWe-aQtrnB-aQtpXP-aQttSH-aQtqr8-aQtsxR-aQtpuK-aYjxSF-tBY21-3zLjWZ-62WiXH-fy7Wyv-h5QuV-7bd2E2-pGs5-bvgQbW-DCzk-zbQxa-byngKw-672fec-8p5JoW-uk9Sn-9A9hxH-7mEKzF-8NYmGe-cCnQ9d-4uKr1N-demAH5-7NQVzh-ekmY9r-6QnVnv-ow365o">civilrights</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Former Senator James Jeffords, who represented Vermont in Washington for 32 years, died Monday at the age of 80. He made history when, five months after George W. Bush was inaugurated with a deadlocked Senate in 2001, he left the GOP to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, thereby handing Dems control of the upper chamber. He did it because “more and more” he found he could not “support the president’s agenda.” The GOP was no longer the party he grew up in. “Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me and for me to deal with them.”

This was before the tea party, before Guantanamo, before Abu Ghraib, before so much of what we now think of when we think of Republican extremism.

Here is the speech he gave announcing his defection, on May 24, 2001. It’s a reminder that the GOP didn’t just up and start losing its marbles after Obama’s election. It had been dropping them one by one for years.

 

 

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate