Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democratic Party is being dismissed by Republicans as a desperate last ditch effort to save his senate seat. Uber principled Michael Steele’s statement sums it up.
Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.
Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.
Indeed, Specter admits that he assessed the situation and came to the conclusion that he would lose the 2010 Republican primaries. In his statement, he explains:
… I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.
His prospects were bleak because he was not conservative enough. I tend to believe though that he is sincere in expressing exasperation over the GOP’s takeover by the hardcore fringe.
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right … I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.
This realignment should not come as a surprise. As John Nichols reminds us, Specter started his career on the Left.
Specter, who was a liberal Democratic lawyer in Phildelphia in the 1960s before accepting a GOP nomination for district attorney as part of a reform-movement battle to break the city’s Democratic machine, has long been the most left-leaning member of the Republican caucus in the chamber.
And now the senior senator from Pennsylvania is returning to the fold.
Specter, who has served five terms in the Senate as the last of the old-school Rockefeller Republicans, has finally given up on his long, fruitless quest to revive the spirit of east-coast liberalism within what has become a hard-right party.
Specter is joining a host of other Americans weary of the anger, irrationality, obstinacy and hatred of the far right. Theirs is an exodus to the left which really ends in the center where most citizens are.
For some strange reason I have Beyonce’s To the left stuck in an endless loop in my head.
Image from Joel Rose.