Cutting Oneself Adrift
by Erin Klitzke

          Jiff Jeffords left the Republican Party to be an Independent in mid-2001, several months after the second Bush administration came to power.  It seems to me that he left the Republican Party because of differences in ideology.  Congressional Quarterly’s Politics in America states in 1998 that:

Jeffords...would have felt quite comfortable within [the 'thriving wing of Northeastern liberal members'].  But during Jeffords’ more than two decades in Congress, the GOP’s liberal faction has sharply diminished as the party’s ranks have become more solidly conservative.  Jeffords...has thus stood out as a Republican maverick.[1]

In these terms, it would seem to me that Jeffords was no longer welcome in his party because of his ideological beliefs, and that he was only being catered to because of the influential positions he held on various Senate sub-committees.  It is quite possible and seems very likely to me that Jeffords, with the change in the reins of power in the White House, decided that instead of being forced by his peers to vote for legislation he did not agree with (ie, those pieces of legislation that the President wanted but Jeffords could not in good conscience agree with), he left the party so he could have more control over the way he voted and preserve his ideology.

          From this same document, one learns that the state of Vermont, in past years, commonly elects Democratic candidates rather than Republican candidates.  This may mean that the people of Vermont prefer liberal to moderate over conservative to moderate.

          In the end, I do believe that it was his ideology and a desire to have freedom to choose what he would and would not vote for without pressure from the Republican Party and induced Jeffords to leave.