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Arlen Specter Changes Parties Again

Written by | April 29th, 2009

Gimme a “D” … Gimme a “R” … Gimme a “D” … That’s better … or it is?

The news is out and people in Pennsylvania and across the nation are trying to make sense of it. This news, while shocking to some and welcome by others gives me pause to consider the reasons behind the action. The news of course is the switching of parties by Arlen Specter. On Tuesday, Specter anced that after some serious soul searching and considerable thought, he has decided to change parties once again returning to the party he abandoned some 40 years ago, because it was politically expedient to do so.

This comes as a welcome move by the Democrat controlled Senate as it is another step closer to a filibuster proof majority. With a 60/40 split in the senate, the Democrats will have the power to pass any legislation and abscond with any requirements to work in a true and meaningful bipartisan manner. If you are a Democrat, you may find this appealing, however, a wise man once said “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The Senate majority will presumably have that absolute power, the next step is absolute corruption, and I fear that, regardless of which party is in control.

The detractors of this notion want people to believe that this is good for the nation, except for their own power grab, this is good for no one except those in power. The real losers here are the constituents in Pennsylvania who in good faith cast ballots for Specter because of the conservative stance he had taken in the past.

With recent polling numbers showing that many Pennsylvanians wanted Specter to be replaced, the majority of them being Republicans, it was painfully clear that he lacked the necessary constituency base to win in a statewide Republican primary. This evidently didn’t bode well for Specter, whose only alternatives would be to move to the Democratic ticket, retire, or become independent. Considering the options, I doubt that he would want to retire on a low note and his ego may have precluded that option. The next option was to switch away from the Republican ticket to remove the largest number of voters from the primary in which he would have undoubtedly lost. With 53% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans seeking change, the prospect of overcoming a significant deficit on the Republican ticket was surely a deciding factor. It would be far easier to mount a campaign to reduce a 3 point deficit than 16 points, particularly considering the large base of voters who disapproved of his vote for the stimulus bill. The only logical move would be to the Democrat ticket.

I am deeply concern with that move, not because I am anti-democrat, but because I have to question the motives of an individual who will change parties on a whim based on whether they can win an election. This shouldn’t sit well with Pennsylvania voters because many of them now feel betrayed and abandoned by their senator. This same senator who previously had vehemently rejected the notion of switching parties, has made a complete 180 and did exactly what he said he would not. This makes me believe it was about his fear of losing power and less about representing Pennsylvania in the senate. This should concern Democrats even more. You will now have a man in your midst, who has in the past has been outspoken about many issues the Democratic party holds as core beliefs. To have such a wolf in sheeps clothing should make the Democrats stand up and take notice.

He has already proven that he will change his party whenever it suits his personal needs and that he cannot be trusted to do as he has said, why should he change his tactics just because the letter behind his name has changed. If I were a Pennsylvanian, I would stand against his re-election, not because of ideological party politics, but because he has now proven himself to be in it for something other than doing the will of his constituents. It was clear the Republicans had already decided they no longer wished him to represent Pennsylvania and it is unlikely that a party independent Specter could garner the support to win. Democrats should look long and hard at him and take stock in who they really wish to represent the state; a man who would sell out his constituents for political gain or someone who has an idological stand nearly identical to their own. Specter could be the person for the job, but I suspect that many will see though his antics and attempt to give him a retirement sendoff in 2010. I know I would.

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3 thoughts on “Arlen Specter Changes Parties Again

  1. markross

    There is no doubt that this was done out of political expediency.

    From what I understand, Specter first wanted to run as an Independent, but for some reason, was not able to do that; at which point, I think that he should have stepped down, and put the people who voted for him first.

    I definitely agree on the point of the filibuster; if The Democrats get one more vote, and the filibuster proof majority, then there will be a much better chance for one party to push through agendas without much (if any) serious debate.

    I don’t really have many feelings about Specter, one way or the other, however, I do not see him as an ideologue. I still believe that he will still vote both ways, which will be much less of a threat then someone like Al Franken, should he make it to The Senate.

  2. markross

    With the (continued) bi-partisanship climate that we are still experiencing in D.C., this move can certainly be a bit disconcerting; at the same time, I wish all of our Senators and Congressman would move to Independent, and operate as one party again.

    I think that being an Independent frees you of the bi-partisan chains, and allows you to think for yourself, without feeling some obligation to a particular party.

    While I realize that Specter was likely doing this in order to remain in the Senate, I would not be surprised to see this happening more frequently, on both sides of the isle. I, for one, welcome it!

    Both parties are a complete failure in my opinion, and in total need of reform.


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