Arlen Specter Defends Stimulus Vote

The news is just now breaking that Senator Arlen Specter has decided to switch to the Democratic party – and this bit of video from early February just might explain why, especially if you’re the least bit cynical. Which I’ve never denied – but I’ve also never denied that I try to look at the possible good (better) reasons. And here it comes – David Schuster just read on air from Specter’s prepared statement – and it’s an interesting combination of motives there.

I’m paraphrasing because the news has just been released and I can’t guarantee that my memory and my transcription skills are good enough to quote word for word but the major points are summed up in these:

  1. The Republican party has moved far to the right since he was first elected.
  2. The stimulus bill caused a major schism in the Republican party.
  3. He has never represented the Republican party in Pennsylvania – he represents the people of Pennsylvania.
  4. He is unwilling to be “judged” by the voters in a Republican primary election.

So… bottom line? He can’t win a Republican primary, and may be able to win as a Democrat. I think, though, that there is a lot more to his decision than convenience. His statement references the changes to the Republican party over his 2+ decades in Congress – that it has moved far to the right, and that moderate Republicans have been marginalized by the larger party.

Except that the “larger party” really isn’t larger at all. As recent surveys have shown, the Republican party is bleeding voters – apparently, most of those that disagree would rather switch than fight. And I can’t say that I blame them – those with more moderate views, those who refuse to have their politics defined by a few narrow issues are regularly shouted down and drowned out by the unified voices of a very loud minority.

I keep wondering why that is – why they allowed it to happen. And in this case, I’m not talking about the elected representatives, who are looking loonier and loonier all the time. I’m talking about the people who have always voted Republican because – well, frankly, because they believed in the broader platform. Why weren’t they storming the barricades and demanding that the party field candidates that actually, you know, represent their constituents?
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