Kevin DuJan, a lifelong Democrat, was so dedicated to his party that he once abandoned a blind date to avoid going out with a Republican.
“In third grade, the teacher asked us the difference between Democrats and Republicans and I got up without thinking and said, ‘Democrats are good, Republicans are evil.’ That’s what I really thought,” said DuJan, 32.
Never would he have thought that he’d be campaigning for Sen. John McCain this election season but, as the chairman of the DeMcCrats for McCain in Illinois, DuJan heads a group of about 400 Chicago-area voters who have crossed party lines to support the Republican nominee.
“The Democratic Party doesn’t deserve our loyalty because of the way they’ve been behaving. Some of us just woke up and we thought that we had to decide who is best to lead this country,” said DuJan.
Many of the DeMcCrats are former Hillary Clinton supporters who think Obama’s charisma and message of hope and change aren’t enough to overcome his lack of experience and what they see as his far left ideals.
“If we’re talking about uniting the country and coming across party lines, we need someone who’s moderate,” said Alexandra Stabrawa, a 22-year-old Columbia College student who joined with the DeMcCrats after Obama was named the party’s nominee.
“I honestly think John McCain is the best person to lead the country at this point in time,” Stabrawa said.
DuJan can trace his change of political heart to one specific incident, on May 31. On that day, DuJan was present at a meeting of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee and witnessed Michigan delegates re-apportioned to Sen. Barack Obama, even though his name did not appear on the ballot in that state’s early primary voting.
“That’s the day everything changed. I thought, ‘If my party acts this way, I have to follow my own heart and my own convictions.’ And I turned to John McCain and I’m proud of this decision,” DuJan said.
Stabrawa and DuJan said working with Republicans has been surprisingly easy; it’s the Obama supporters who have shown unexpected hostility.
“To open up to the other side has been really interesting, because I’ve met a lot of people who share the same line of thinking with me,” said Stabrawa. “Half the country believes one thing and one half believes the other and to try and ignore that, I just can’t do it anymore. I’m ready to come together and overcome this.”
Stabrawa said the windows of her car have been smashed twice and she thinks it’s because she still has a Clinton sticker on display. DuJan had a rock with an Obama sticker on it thrown through his apartment window.
“I’ve never seen Democrats act like this,” DuJan said, noting that he’s been called a racist and a traitor.
“I’m trying to put my country before my party,” he said. “I was never mature enough before to see that we have a lot more in common and what it all boils down to is wanting the best for the country.”
This weekend, the DeMcCrats are hosting a free bus trip to Ohio to canvass in the Cleveland area. While DuJan is confident McCain will win the national election, he is worried about what he calls the “Eeyore phenomenon,” after the gloomy Winnie-the-Pooh character.
“The media is deliberately creating Eeyores, these people who read how far ahead Obama is and they think he can’t be stopped,” DuJan said. “The only way McCain will lose is if the Eeyores stay home on Election Day.”
On Nov. 4, the DeMcCrats and the Chicago Young Republicans are hosting a results party at the Hilton Hotel, across from Obama’s rally at Grant Park.
“No one in our group can recall anything of this time and scale between Democrats and Republicans,” said DuJan, who said the DeMcCrats had already raised $6,600 for the event.
“If I can give Obama any compliment, it’s that he brought together Democrats and Republicans like never before,” DuJan said.