Senator Arlen Specter finally makes the decision to leave the Republican Party and officially join his fellow Democrats by running for re-election as a Democrat. I can’t say I’m terribly upset about this news. His motivation for doing this doesn’t really matter to me. It does open up more options for challengers like Pat Toomey…or it could lead to a different Democrat replacing Specter, because there’s no guarantee that he gets the Democrat nomination without the other candidates pulling out of the contest. I do think that his announcement was self-serving, and it failed to acknowledge those Republicans, such as President Bush and VP Cheney, who supported him against Toomey the first time. The national Republican Party hasn’t thrown Specter under the bus. He chose this path for himself. When he votes the way he does, he should expect conservatives to loudly oppose those votes. But the Beltway Republicans have a far different agenda than the rest of us — they would have us go further to the left and abandon social conservatism or any pretense of fiscal accountability / responsibility.
It is not the agenda of the leadership of the Republican Party to weed out the moderate / liberal elements of its membership. If you need evidence of that, witness our presidential nominee, John McCain. He agreed more than he disagreed with Barack Obama on domestic policy, although I suspect he would have embraced keeping more tax cuts than President Obama has. Our party supported Arlen Specter, even though he hasn’t done very much to merit our support. We don’t even consider challenging Snowe and Collins. So our far-right takeover hasn’t occurred yet, and my guess is you won’t see that until we can recruit much stronger candidates to challenge the Republicans already in the Senate and House.
There’s much about this move that I can be happy about. Allowing the Democrats a 60-vote majority means they take full responsibility for anything they screw up. On the other hand, I’m not sure I am willing to accept the consequences of the Democrats passing whatever laws they want to pass, no matter how crazy or misguided those laws may be — and I’m certainly not optimistic that all the damage done would be reversible. Once we all get national health care, there’s no going back. Look at Britain. If you even hint at NHS (national health service) reforms that would assign some responsibility back to the recipients, don’t expect to win any national elections. That’s the danger here. We need to keep a close eye on what’s happening in Washington, and raise awareness of how all this will affect our lives in the long run, because we might only get one chance to keep this country from absorbing some big mistakes made by the politicians.