COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | DANE CHAPIN

Blue and red make purple

To hear his newly spawned detractors tell it, you would think Nathan Fletcher went to bed with his Ouija board and discovered his true nature. By leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent in the San Diego mayoral contest, Fletcher has actually managed to secure the wrath of operatives from both sides of the political aisle. I would call that a great accomplishment.

Did the founding fathers think their Declaration of Independence wouldn’t reverberate across the pond? Of course not, and I’m sure Fletcher was not so naive to think he’d go unchallenged. So it is really no surprise that blue and red are purple all over, over the fact that the Republican fair-haired boy went public about being ambidextrous so he can maybe actually accomplish something in a highly dysfunctional environment.

Jess Durfee, chairman of the Democratic Party in San Diego, launched into Fletcher for having “rubbed elbows with Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Pete Wilson.” Fletcher has also been known to rub elbows with Gov. Jerry Brown to get something done in Sacramento. Isn’t that how things get done in the real world? You talk to people. While no taxpayer is interested in sponsoring Las Vegas soirees for government staff, I’m certain more than a few of us would be more than happy to pick up the dinner bill to get left and right to mingle more civilly in the center.

Tony Krvaric, San Diego Republican Party chairman, now says, “It is impossible to trust Nathan.” Note to Krvaric from at least one San Diegan: I now trust Fletcher more than ever. What he’s done is a sign of character, which makes him as thoughtful as he is courageous. His conscience is as strong as his compass. What is impossible to trust are the party relics who are more interested in perpetuation of their political power and personal interests as opposed to the public interest.

The gears of government have ground to a halt because there are too few Nathan Fletchers in the halls of power. And why would there be more? Stray from the party line in either party and you won’t be served cake, let alone get past the front door. All you have to do is watch the arrows flying from all quarters at Fletcher to know this phenomenon is all too alive.

The winds of change are blowing, but the party politicians and those of their ilk don’t feel the breeze. People are sick of partisan politics and the endless bickering. While politics isn’t designed to be a quiet sport, should the participants be compelled to wear flak jackets? Leaving his party shouldn’t force Fletcher to have to dig out the Marine Corps body armor he wore in Iraq, fighting combatants who were really trying to kill him.

I’d be more impressed with his detractors if they could actually provide some thoughtful perspective on Fletcher's shift as opposed to hurling adolescent insults in their self-righteous sneering.

Certainly, it is easy to understand why the status quo wants to hold on to their status; it has its perks. Fletcher's decision to run as an independent, if he is successful, is certain to upset the apple cart and put the political dominoes into play.

Nobody wants to be made obsolete. But it happens every day in the real world. Serve bad food at a restaurant, you won’t have patrons for long. Only in government can you neglect your customer and stay in business.

Dinosaurs die hard. But when there is a better mousetrap or way to buy music, you better not be tone-deaf. And now, to the potential benefit of our fair city, there is a growing band of empowered, independent-minded voters, emboldened by Fletcher, tuning their instruments, and politicians of both parties would be well-advised to remove the excess ear wax that is blocking the emerging hum of an enthused and energized electorate.

Crossing red and blue in politics can make for some purple faces. Mixing the two can create an effervescent panoply of color that could bring some fresh energy to San Diego’s City Hall.


Chapin is CEO of USAOPOLY, partner of Zephyr Partners and chairman of Health Savings Associates.

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