Democrats & Liberals Archives

Specter switches sides

Arlen Specter announced today (link) that he’s switching sides, from Republican to Democrat, and will be seeking re-election in 2010 as an incumbent Democrat. What would drive a lifelong Republican to switch parties?

Well first off, he’s fighting for his political life against Pat Toomey, a guy that came pretty close last time to bumping him off the primary ticket. Recent statewide polls have Specter in a double-digit deficit against Toomey. One might speculate that Specter is looking to the general election and not a hard fought primary.

Another thing is that Republican roles in Pennsylvania are dying on the vine. Over 200k Republicans already switched their tickets since 2006 and Independents are doing the same. In fact there are about 85,000 fewer registered Republicans in the Philadelphia metropolitan region than there were in 2004. (link) He’s probably just figuring he can ride some coat-tails back into the capital.

For me, since I’m a resident of Pennsylvania, there’s good and bad in Specter’s decision.

Good: The democrats will now have a filibuster-proof lead. The recent filibusters from the extreme-right sect of the Republican Party will become a thing of the past. Maybe some progress will be made.

Bad: The Democrats will now have a filibuster-proof lead over the Republicans. I do not believe a single-party rule is anyway to govern a Democratically controlled society, regardless of who is charge.

For whatever reason, from now until the 2010 elections, the Specter switch will have a dramatic change in the political landscape of the US. The shift of power will become complete; something similar to what happened when the Republicans took complete power in 2002.

And we all know what happened then.

I must, however, ignore my normally cynical nature and look to the future with a glass half-full view. I have faith in America. I have to have faith that a Democratically ruled America will unclog some of the hairballs trapped in the sewage of our political system. I have to have faith that Specter switching sides will benefit us all.

Otherwise, what's the point?

Posted by john trevisani at April 28, 2009 4:46 PM
Comment #281073

Looks Like it was a mutual agreement John, “Dems press Specter to switch sides
By Aaron Blake
Posted: 03/16/09 08:14 PM [ET] ” Maybe It’s I didn’t leave the Republican Party The party left me.”

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 28, 2009 5:54 PM
Comment #281076

John I agree, it seems to me that with Specter switching parties there will be a void in the repub party that will not be easily filled. Specter on many occasions brought a sense of reason to the repub party. While it may be a benefit to the dems to have the repubs become that whacked out far right extremist party it seems intent on becoming, it is a disservice to this Country.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 28, 2009 6:34 PM
Comment #281081

Might be good for the Dems now, but it might just turn around and bite Specter in the hinder parts come 2010. Lots of folks are getting fed up with our elected officials and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see some changes come 2010.

Posted by: KAP at April 28, 2009 8:32 PM
Comment #281083

Why I don’t blame Specter for changing parties, I do believe that the Republican Leadership needs to shut up Rush and Steele before the party loses more Party Members running for office.

For seeing that these two have already said they would push to have Specter voted out in the prinary along with others that do not walk in lock-step with their Ideology of No-Nothing. I wonder if the Democrats can add an additional 5-10 seats before the 2010 election.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at April 28, 2009 8:38 PM
Comment #281084


Bravo on your honesty in worrying about one-party rule. But don’t worry too much. We still have a democracy. One-party tends to overreach and provokes reactions.

This will provide an excellent test. No party has enjoyed this kind of predominance since Lyndon Johnson. There can be no excuses from the Democrats in 2010. We shall see what they deliver.

As an American I hope it works, but as a cynical semi-libertarian I don’t believe the big-government solutions will work and we will be paying the bills till the day we die.

IMO - the best governments are broad based and make reforms gradually. Quick action is emotionally enjoyable but usually destructive and ephemeral.

Posted by: Christine at April 28, 2009 8:47 PM
Comment #281086

Quote by Henry, ” the Republican Leadership needs to shut up Rush and Steele” IMHO There is no cure for Brash Lamebrain at one time i thought more of mr. Steele it sadly looks like he’s joined forces with Brash and Darth .

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 28, 2009 9:46 PM
Comment #281094


The only way we are ever going to get the needed health care reform is to have the bought and paid for Reps out of the picture. Ried and Pelosi have figured out how to get it around a Rep filibuster but that is only the start. After that comes lots of enabling legislation where the Reps could block or slow implementation.
If Holder does his job and starts locking up corrupt politicians the Dem majority will most likely increase even further.

Posted by: bills at April 29, 2009 12:38 AM
Comment #281098


A big reason Specter came over was that an right wing extremist nearly cost him the primary . As a Dem he will carry Penn. by a large margin.
Now if we can just get Snowe and Collins………….?

Posted by: bills at April 29, 2009 8:48 AM
Comment #281101

Quote by Ms. Snowe , “On the national level of the Republican Party, we haven’t certainly heard warm, encouraging words about how they view moderates, either you are with us or against us,” Ms. Snowe said. She said national Republican leaders were not grasping that “political diversity makes a party stronger and ultimately we are heading to having the smallest political tent in history for any political party the way things are unfolding.” I could see her leaving she also voted Against NAFTA/CAFTA! Newt You should have left the Moderates Alone !

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 29, 2009 9:26 AM
Comment #281107


“For seeing that these two have already said they would push to have Specter voted out in the prinary along with others that do not walk in lock-step with their Ideology of No-Nothing.”

you mean like the democrats did to joe lieberman?

“I wonder if the Democrats can add an additional 5-10 seats before the 2010 election.”

not gonna happen. spector changed sides because he saw his political career ending. toomey winning in the general election is IMO a longshot. spector more than likely would have lost the primary, and the democrat challenger
would have prevailed. if you’re arlen spector what would you do?


“If Holder does his job and starts locking up corrupt politicians the Dem majority will most likely increase even further.”

be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: dbs at April 29, 2009 11:34 AM
Comment #281109

The Republican Party knew Specter was a moderate…for them to pigeon-hole him because he took a moderate stance now and then, seems a trifle harsh…it’s no wonder he made his move.

The GOP will soon have us just where it wants us.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 29, 2009 12:37 PM
Comment #281110


Talking about corrupt politicians and welcoming Arlen Specter into the caucus is talking out of both sides of your mouth, don’t you think? Corruptions isn’t only defined by accepting the bribes.

I am quoting Sen. Specter’s words from the yesterday’s press conference:

” … had Linc Chafee been elected in 2006, the Republicans would have controlled the Senate in 2007 and ‘08, and I would have been chairman of the committee.”

Good riddance. The party needs to be purified. Some, like Sen. Specter and Sen. Snow, think that it is about power. It is not about power. It is about sincere conviction that you say what you mean and you do what you say. If that isn’t what America wants today so be it, but eventually, when the country will be ruined and only jobs we have left will be in the public sector sponsored by the printed money, people will realize that honesty, conviction, personal responsibility and entrepreneurship does matter. Won’t take much longer. China will need money soon enough to invest into its own growth and won’t need to lend us any money, and if we continue to print it, the inflation will hit the double digits for sure.

Let’s look at the states with no income taxes. There are total of 7 states (AK, FL, TX, SD, NV, WY, WA). Only two of those states experiencing the budget deficits (NV and FL). Let’s look at top 7 highest income tax states CA. MN, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA. Every one of them has a projected deficit of 10%+, most of them have projected deficits of greater than 15%. Coincidently, unemployment rates in these states are different as well. AK 9%, TX 6%, SD 5%, NV 10%, WY 5%, WA 9.7%, FL 9% vs CA 11%, NJ 9%, NY 8%, PA 8%, MA 8%, MN 9%, NH 6 %. Let’s average it out - no income tax states average 6.29 % unemployment. Highest income tax states average 8.43%. These governors (both Democrat and Republican) are able to balance the budget and keep the unemployment law without imposing punitive taxes. Yet other states which collect huge revenues are not able to keep unemployment under reasonable rate and can’t even balance the budget.

We have spent almost $2 trillion in 8 months from the time the “crisis” began and it has gotten worse and worse every month.

President Obama’s budget was based on 2% reduction in GDP this year and aggressive growth next year. We know in Q1 economy shrunk by 6.1%. Q2 doesn’t look a whole lot better. Unless we have a sizable growth in Q3 and Q4 (4-5%) I don’t see how are we to achieve only -2% number which was assumed by the President. Wouldn’t this call for budget to be looked at in light of not so promising economic data?

Posted by: Crusader at April 29, 2009 1:29 PM
Comment #281113

A period of party dominance can work, so long as the dominant party doesn’t become complacent or arrogant about that dominance. I think for the time being, Democrats remember enough about former times to be careful not to create a return.

The truth is, the Republicans have been so wrapped up in their base and satisfying them that at this point defections like Specter’s have been inevitable. The Republican’s purity allows them to have a nice, insular, and pretty much powerless plaything of a constituency. The Bright side is that they don’t have to sully their principles compromising their legislation with the rest of us Americans. The bad side, of course, is that they’re not getting that help, making that outreach.

The Republicans are purifying themselves at the expense of their party’s outreach, and ultimately, their ability to push forward any agenda at all.

Do I need to remind you again that only during a little less than half of the quarter was the stimulus package even in effect? Not even the stimulus’s supporters said that everything would get better in a single month (Feb 17th to March 31st).

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 29, 2009 2:12 PM
Comment #281115

””“The party needs to be purified.”“”” That sends chills down my back.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 29, 2009 2:53 PM
Comment #281120

IMO both parties need some purifying and by that I mean incumbents having to find new jobs.

Posted by: KAP at April 29, 2009 4:08 PM
Comment #281128


The Democrats are doing okay only because the Republicans are so screwed up. The Democrats in Congress are doing an atrocious job; they just look good in comparison. It is a very bad situation for us.

Posted by: Christine at April 29, 2009 8:35 PM
Comment #281131

Congress…hmmm…if you want to know about Congress, read a little Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Harry Truman…etc. etc.

Problems with do-nothing…do too much…do badly…Congress have been going on for a couple of centuries. Methinks we cry and wail too much over a body that has been a thorn in our side since the Revolution.

The last thing Senate Republicans have to worry about, but will worry about incessantly, is a Democratic majority. Just as soon as the sixtieth member is sworn in, the Democrats will turn on each other like a pack of jackals. The President may not have to concern himself with Republican obstructionists, but he will never have the rubber stamp folks seem to think he will.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 30, 2009 2:02 AM
Comment #281136

I just want to add one thing not mentioned here- I believe Specter actually started out as a Democrat in the early 1960s, so technically, he hasn’t been a life-long Republican. Either way, I like him, and the rest of your article is great. I’m very glad I found this blog. :)

Posted by: Sara at April 30, 2009 8:35 AM
Comment #281137

Well, there are some forms of purity both you and I can agree with. I want folks who know this is a job, and know who they really work for, regardless of party.

In my opinion, people chose the Democrats not so much because they were tremendously better than the Republicans, but because the Republicans refused to improve their behavior, and the Democrats at least seemed ideologically tractable.

Still, it amounts to the same thing: The Republican’s quest for ideological purity, is a big part of what’s killing it.

1) It does not allow them to adapt policy or position as quickly as necessary.

2) It discourages their constituents from sinking incumbents whose behavior is bad for the party’s public image.

3) It encourages a paranoid relationship to the mainstream press and the creation of partisan media outlets whose mission to flatter Republican sensibilities lead them to reinforce a poisonously bubbled-off situation in respect to the rest of the country.

4)It’s led them to withdraw or strike down candidates whose attitude or politics appeal to the center.

All in all, the Republicans are collapsing in on themselves. The Democrats, even by not merely following suit, are proving their superiority as candidates. Ideally, we should only be seeing them as the best choice if they were perfect, gleaming exemplars of statesman-like excellence, but in real world politics, people take what they can get. You know you’re in trouble when people turn their nose up at you despite the weaknesses of the other side.

On the other hand, an essential element of this is the movement within the rank and file. Take a decent look at where the Democrats on Kos and other sites are, in terms of their organization, their morale, their free flow of ideas and debate. People act like DailyKos is monolithic, but if you just read the comments, you’ll find plenty of instances where people have contrasting viewpoints. This is not surpressed, as it sometimes is on sites on the Right, but encouraged. Instead of trying to make their party an ideological pure specimen, the Democrats are creating a strong alloy, a robust array of factions and viewpoints, where one can take over from another if the currently dominant viewpoint fails.

The problem for the Republicans is not that they don’t have ideas, it’s that their party has no other ideas than just the centrally organized, centrally supported ones. Therefore, if those fall out of favor, the party itself has no options for following the movement of the American public. There is no backup plan for the GOP, because they haven’t allowed nearly enough free thinking in the party to generate robust, real-world workable alternatives to the party’s main policy.

In fact, one way of looking at Obama’s rise is that he and similar politicians created an alternative to the Clinton Triangulation-style politics, and enabled the party to move past politics that favored the GOP’s continued dominance. When the Republican’s politics and policies failed, the rise of that alternative Democratic vision gave Democrats the momentum to push back and defeat the Republican majorities, and their hold on the Presidency and its politics.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 30, 2009 10:20 AM
Comment #281142

Republican Thinking:

Governor Sunny Purdue has gone to the Supreme Court to argue that the Fair Voting Act has run its course, and should be dropped from the books.

The state of Georgia, Sunny’s domain, is fighting in the state legislature, over whether to officially celebrate Confederate Days.

Republicans in Georgia venerate the happy days of slavery, yet think fair voting could go on in the same state. They don’t seem to get it…

Welcome Sara, we are glad you found us too.

Posted by: Marysdude at April 30, 2009 11:00 AM
Comment #281143

“”I just want to add one thing not mentioned here- I believe Specter actually started out as a Democrat in the early 1960s, so technically, he hasn’t been a life-long Republican. Either way, I like him, and the rest of your article is great. I’m very glad I found this blog. :)”“” Technically you’re right Sara welcome to Watchblog I like Arlen Specter to, The two Parties changed a whole lot since the early-mid 1960s.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 30, 2009 11:06 AM
Comment #281170

If the Republicans care to debate why America still should follow the Disposable Society Ideology of the 70’s rather than face the reality of the 21st Century. I hope that Independents will remove them as a National Party. For I doubt if any Conservative in their right mind wants to explain former President Regan Global Meltdown Theory in 2010 and 2012.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at April 30, 2009 10:32 PM
Comment #281176

Republicans are destroying a good party from within.

Posted by: john at May 1, 2009 5:45 AM
Comment #281195

Like many of us Specter did not leave the Republican party — the party left us
May they enjoy their small tent filled full of the rich who want tax breaks and the religious that want all others to live by their interpretation of their book


Posted by: A Savage at May 1, 2009 3:45 PM
Comment #281222

i am a skeptic. i feel he will say outrageous things and below his name will state specter (d-pa).

but, if legit, i can’t believe a white powerful man doesn’t fit in the “tent”. one must have to be uber rich and white. oh yeah, and corrupt.

Posted by: bluebuss at May 2, 2009 1:26 PM
Comment #281226

Why are the Republicans complaining about this? Arlen Spector merely pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

Posted by: Stephen Hines at May 2, 2009 7:32 PM
Comment #281372

New Democrat Specter loses committee seniority Ask Specter Now!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 6, 2009 1:51 PM
Comment #281431

Ridge won’t challenge Specter for Pa. Senate seat.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 7, 2009 5:24 PM
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