Arlen Specter is gone from the ranks of Republicans. Was he ever one of them? His recent positions on significant ideological issues have indicated that his party identification was not a reflection of his core values. Probably a stronger indication of that is the fact that Specter has been flexible in his ideology before. He is what he needs to be to get done what he wants to do. He was a Democrat once until it suited him to identify with the GOP to get elected District Attorney in Philadelphia. Now when his actions in the Senate have distanced himself from his chosen party and he faces a clear loss in the primary next year, he moves across the aisle yet again.
Outrageous, the blogosphere screams. Good riddance, the hard core conservatives yell. We don't need your kind. But, the fact of the matter is that we do need warm bodies with an (R) behind their name even if we can't get them aboard 100% of the time. Some success in combating cloture and retaining the filibuster in the Senate is better than none at all.
How bad is a party switch? Is it the worst form of political venality? It might be worth taking an objective look.
I recall rejoicing in Colorado when my senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, came over from the dark side. He announced his switch, he won his primary and he got elected and re-elected until he chose to retire. Not a bad thing for us at the time.
Possibly the most honorable cross-over that popped into my mind was that of Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. He didn't simply announce a change of heart. He resigned from his seat, then registered as a Republican and ran from the outside. He was easily elected by the good guys.
We should remember that Ronaldus Magnus, the godfather of the modern conservative movement, was a party switcher. He saw the light and never looked back.
Take a look at this incredible listing:
Back and Forth Across the Decades
A quick review of the last thirty years shows a number of very recognizable names and in fact includes some very core Republicans.
So, should we revile Specter? Maybe. He was certainly doing us very little good with his current attitudes. Will his move bear political fruit for him? I don't know. He certainly is welcomed with open arms by the dark side. He couldn't beat Pat Toomey for the Republican nomination next year. But can Toomey win in the general election?
That will be an uphill fight in Pennsylvania where the trend has been toward the Democrats for the last fifteen years. It may depend upon how much damage the Messiah can do to this nation in the next year and a half. If it is of such magnitude that even the sheeple notice, it would be Toomey's election to lose.