To understand why the plug-in vehicle loving Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander decided to step down from his leadership role in the Republican party recetly, we need look no further than his "Liberal-mobile" (so named by his critics), the Nissan Leaf.
Alexander defends his Leaf as the right choice for a freedom-seeking American:
While Alexander is known as a man that seeks common ground with Democrats on issues including clean air, even as other Republican leaders have made it their goal to counter Democrats on virtually all fronts. As the Republican caucus in the Senate grows more conservative, the liberal-leaning Alexander has decided to abandon his post as the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate.Plugging in my Nissan Leaf will give me the patriotic pleasure of not sending money overseas to people who are trying to blow us up.
Alexander says that returning to the rank and file will free him from the role of advancing the Republican party and instead allow him to concentrate on other issues. To be clear, Alexander is not retiring; he's only stepping down from a specific post within the Republican party.
In the end, the 71-year old Alexander may hold more power as a non-ranked Senator at liberty to strike up deals with Democrats. Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, says this of Alexander's stepping down:
He's certainly not willing to pay for "blow-us-up" gasoline.To be in the leadership, there is a price to pay within the party, given his conservative, but not extreme conservative, positions on a range of issues. He may not be willing to pay that anymore.