Specter Swap: A Gimmick or Wake Up Call?

I think the worst kept secret in the political world was made official today with veteran Republican Senator Arlen Specter switching his party affiliation to become a Democrat.

To me, this is more of a survival tactic played by the senator since he was more than likely going to lose the upcoming republican primary for the 2010 election. Now if you are the democrats, you welcome him and take him in with open arms because he is one of the most respected people in congress regardless of which political hat he decides to wear. However, with the GOP fighting with every last breath they have to keep Al Franken from being seated in Minnesota, the problem still remains of having 60 seats to prevent a filibuster. Specter probably would have voted in line with the democrats against a filibuster even if he didn’t switch so it doesn’t really solve anything. In turn, Specter probably gets a less competitive primary challenge on this side or the aisle with the party backing him in the 2010 race.

Now if you are one of the very few moderates remaining on the conservative side, this really just brings to the forefront most of the problems you are facing. There is no longer exists such a thing as a moderate Republican. It’s either you are with the extreme right wing base with the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and Bachmann and that is a real shame. It shouldn’t matter if the vast majority of the people in this country are leaning moderately or completely liberal now, there should always be a respectable and honest but not lunatic opposition on the other side. You should have base a voice of reason from the minority to keep the party in power of over-extending their reach of power but we just don’t have that anymore in this country and it is quite a shame.

I have always tried to respect a person’s view within reason regardless of whether I agreed with it or completely disagreed because the critics always tell you your faults. They may not necessarily express in the way you might like it, but more likely than not they will tell you something about trying to appeal to more people. It’s quite unfortunate that a vast majority just disregards the republican minority now as nothing but a party of no but that is nobody’s fault but the Republican Party’s. They have, for far too long relied on the politics of fear and isolation to shove their legislation through and the masses have finally woken up.

As a self-identified moderate liberal, I think it is more important in today’s times than ever which so many politicians getting caught up in a power struggle rather than representing their constituents. Living in one of the very few political systems that institutes a two-party system which is quite undemocratic as it is, and now having one of the two parties run by people who have extremists views is not a step in the right direction of democracy in this country. Since the 3rd parties can only spout off their mouths and exert very little influence into the political system that is in play right now, it is that much more crucial to moderate and reform the conservative base.

The Republicans will need a purge sooner or later of these people with radical fundamentalist views at the forefront and the public face of its party. As the next generation of younger constituents who are naturally more liberal to begin with begin to grow up, the GOP faces a major threat of facing the situation they had a couple of decades ago where they are down to 150 seats in congress. You already notice the slight change with the likes of Megan McCain calling for the Roves of her party to step away since they are no longer relevant and are hurting the progressive cause of their party.

As for people my age, two of the most conservative people I know are shifting their views in polar opposite directions. One is becoming much more liberal fiscally and towards economic policies to support a system where the government plays a bigger role in helping people get back up on their feet. On the other hand, the other one is becoming more and more conservative by the day. You almost get a feel of an old and battered athlete who doesn’t know when to retire and admit his time has come and gone. Resorting to out of context quotes and unsubstantiated rumors as “facts” to try to pick up any dirt or score cheap points in a political discussion.

Now for Senator Specter, we will very quickly find out whether he jumped ship simply to save and extend his political career or whether his political philosophy has really become more in line with the Democrats.

Change Doesn’t Happen Over Night

Just background information for those who don’t know me that I went to a relatively small high school (graduating class of about 35 kids) and I met some of the people I graduated with back in 2005 today over lunch. Some I had kept in touch with more over others, then there have been some who I saw maybe once since graduation.

It was quite a small community, our principal would even love to call it “a family” all the time but it was quite something. I used to have informative, often heated debates with some people on questions varying from social to fiscal issues. There were just some that I thought I would never see eye to eye with, or some that would never switch their party lines to vote for another candidate – even on a more local ballot, never mind on a national scale.

One of the friends I met today was one of those people who I always argued against but continuously ending up respecting because they stood for their beliefs and stood firm on it. As an opponent in those arguments, you always felt they gave you a fair shake in listening to your points and rebutting things they disagreed with in a rather calm and respectful way – at least most of the times. To be quite frank, on the political scale we were as polar opposites as one could be without falling off the scale.

That same friend, who was always an avid learner certainly pulled a fast one by me today when they said they had voted for Barack Obama in this past year’s national election. In all my years of personally knowing someone who fundamentally stood on issues that were slightly more conservative than they were liberal, I did not see this one coming. They had been reading up on several social issues for some part of their studies and that in turn led them to vote the way they did. (By the way, the person did end up voting conservative down the ballot for every other candidate. haha)

I’m not saying voting conservative is a bad thing, actually a couple of my better friends would probably lean more right than left but I am certainly glad to see more and more people shedding the party label and voting for what they believe in and what they think is right. I certainly would think that even my friends who are liberal hippies would be able to vote for a Republican if it was clear that, that candidate would certainly put the country in a better situation than their opponent.