Young Democrats of Harford County

For Democrats of all ages and other like-minded folks in Harford County, Maryland.

Archive for April, 2009

Thoughts on Specter the Defector

Posted by trumanesque on April 29, 2009

Senator Arlen Specter’s announcement yesterday that he was switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party was more than some craven political maneuver.  (True, it was that, but I’m saying it was more than that.)  With one stroke, the Republicans’ Senate Caucus lost 33 percent of its moderate voices.  Only Sens. Snowe and Collins from Maine are left, and we’re not sure for how long.

Behind Republican leaders’ “good riddance” posturing, they have to be concerned.  Specter argued that the party has moved further to the right since his election in 1980, and it clearly has.  RNC Chairman Michael Steele can call Specter a left-winger all he wants, but he can’t credibly spin the party’s problems as just “packaging” or “marketing.”  Only when (if) national Republicans take a hard look at their anti-government, socially oppressive message will they recover as a national party instead of just a regional one.  And that won’t happen unless the party’s moderates  rise up–as Specter suggests–and take back the microphone from the party non-leaders, who have zero credibility on anything.  I put these non-leaders into three categories:  Bloviators (Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck); Castaways (Gingrich, Rove, Cheney); and Marionettes (Boehner, Cantor, Steele, McConnell).  In the meantime, only 21 percent of the country identifies as a Republican.  This figure will likely shrink as the non-leaders drive the party further and further to the extreme right.  Their agenda has been proven wrong; it’s also proven unpopular.

But the Specter defection poses challenges for Democrats as well.  Majority Leader Harry Reid is running out of excuses for not getting key legislation passed.  Even if Specter remains fairly independent, most party-switchers do shift their voting patterns, and Specter will have to do some of that to position himself against a Dem primary challenger.  So this is the window of time for the Dems to do some good governing.  If they fall down, even the moribund Republicans will gain more power in 2010, and will use that power to champion a return to the good ol’ days of bad government under the Bush administration and the Gingrich/Delay Congresses.  The best thing recommending Arlen Specter as a Democratic Senator is that he was there for those times, and he doesn’t want to go back either.

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