Last week, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced that he was switching parties. Why do you ask? Well, it was not based on fundamental disagreements with policy. By his own admission, he was concerned that he could not win his party’s primary. Case in point, here is some of what was said on last Sunday’s Meet the Press.
All right, let me ask you about this switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party. Back in April of this year on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” you said this: “So I’m trying to bring back those voters to the Republican Party. We need balance and I’m trying to get people to register Republican. We need a second party. Look here, our country is built on checks and balances. The only check and balance in America today are the 41 Republican Senators who can talk and filibuster, otherwise, the White House, the House of Representatives will be a steamroller.” Well, Senator, you’ve now decided to join that steamroller. What changed?
Well, well, since that time I undertook a very thorough survey of Republicans in Pennsylvania with polling and a lot of personal contacts, and it became apparent to me that my chances to be elected on the Republican ticket were, were bleak. And I’m simply not going to subject my 29-year record in the United States Senate to that Republican primary electorate. I’m not going to do that.
Excuse me Senator Specter? You do not want to subject your 29-year record to the Republicans of your state that have allowed you to be there for 29 years? Shame on you! You are now the poster child for term limits and political self-survival of the most selfish kind. I’d have a much easier time understanding your switching parties based on clear differences in political philosophies. However, you freely admit that your motivation is to stay in the Senate.
Democrats in your state should make note that you clearly represent your own self interests before any that you may commit to voters or a party. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that you have the right to do what you did. But, I believe that the voters from either party will have great reason not to trust you. At least have the courtesy to leave the party and declare yourself an independent as Sens Jeffords and Liberman did. However, your political calculus has you attempting to remove the competition from a serious primary fight by declaring now.
The Republican primary voters would be well served by rallying behind former Governor and moderate Republican Tom Ridge to run in the general election. They will not only gain the Senate seat back, but they will also breath some life back into the party as a mainstream party.