Sen. Arlen Specter to switch parties!

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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CNN is just now reporting that Arlen Specter - one of the most senior Republican Senators - will become a Democrat! If Al Franken does assume office for Minnosota, which we expect to happen, that would give the Democrats a fillibuster-proof 60 vote majority in the Senate.
 

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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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Here we go.

April 28, 2009

Statement by Senator Arlen Specter

I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania's economy.

I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.

While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.

Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy's statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/04/arlen-specter-switches-parties.php
 
  • #3
Astronuc
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I heard the announcement on NPR.

I would hope Specter would declare himself Independent like Jeffords and Sanders, because I do think we need a successful independent 3rd party movement. That might however complicate running for office.
 
  • #4
LowlyPion
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This looks to highlight the Conservative schism that has divided the Republican Party into a diminishing minority.

I agree that the best system is one in which the tension between the parties is even enough so as to be more centrist. That would seem to be the best result for all. But the Republicans have lurched in recent years to embrace an unsuccessful strategy of attempting to dismantle government, unfetter regulation, and eschew oversight to the point that the rudderless ship of state has plunged into rocky waters. In their zeal to push their minority agenda I think they have alienated, provoked and angered a growing majority. Arlen Spector is merely recognizing which way the wind is blowing.

I'd suspect that with Spector as a Democrat, Toomey is in a hopeless position now, unless Spector is defeated in the Democratic Primary. I'd think however, that this move was likely already vetted with Democrats, and they won't all that actively oppose him, most especially if they get his vote on more party line issues - allowing him some room to be independent when not needed.
 
  • #5
:rolleyes:He had chemo for a brain tumor, obviously the chemo fried more than just the tumor
 
  • #6
Coin
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This is... really interesting.

The important thing though is how he votes now that he's a Democrat. How much does this free him up to vote for Cloture where he might not have with the Republicans looking over his shoulder?
 
  • #7
turbo
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Susan Collins and Olympia Snow should follow suit and switch parties, too. They have broad bipartisan support in Maine, and since they voted in favor of the stimulus package the state's rabid right-wingers have been attacking them and insulting them, calling them RINO's. The GOP has spent the last couple of decades abandoning their moderates to the point where the party's political viability could be in question - maybe it's time for GOP moderates and REAL conservatives to either re-take the party or leave it to die. Just a dream, maybe, but if politically moderate fiscal conservatives wanted to form an independent 3rd party, I'd back them.
 
  • #8
LowlyPion
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:rolleyes:He had chemo for a brain tumor, obviously the chemo fried more than just the tumor

Maybe it was the tumor all these years that has been pressing against his socially compassionate lobe, and now that he is in remission he has his ideological priorities in sharper focus?

I suspect he was afflicted as far back as when he erred in his judgment about Anita Hill.
 
  • #9
WhoWee
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I heard the announcement on NPR.

I would hope Specter would declare himself Independent like Jeffords and Sanders, because I do think we need a successful independent 3rd party movement. That might however complicate running for office.

He lost a lot of supporters over the past few months and since the stimulus vote. He made the right decision, given his goal of re-election. Chances are he'll position himself as a critical swing vote on important issues.
 
  • #10
LowlyPion
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He lost a lot of supporters over the past few months and since the stimulus vote. He made the right decision, given his goal of re-election. Chances are he'll position himself as a critical swing vote on important issues.

In that sense then he will be influential, and Obama will be having his bi-partisanship. So far Republicans seem determined to marginalize themselves in letting their parade be led by the likes of Fox and Limbaugh, with such lightweight potential candidates in the wings as Jindal and Palin or even Pawlenty or Cantor, with their most serious voice McCain too old to effectively be viable in 4 years or Romney being not the exactly right flavor of Christian ... How effective can Republicans ever hope to be if their Party Platform teeters atop the single word No?
 
  • #11
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I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

Is it ethical for him to stay in office, since the political philosophy that got him elected has changed?
 
  • #12
WhoWee
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In that sense then he will be influential

Potentially more powerful than ever.
 
  • #13
LowlyPion
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Is it ethical for him to stay in office, since the political philosophy that got him elected has changed?

If politicians resigned every time they changed their positions ... Congress would be a ghost town.
 
  • #14
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That's too bad. I was hoping some disgruntled Republican would pull a Strom Thurmond
 
  • #15
Ivan Seeking
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The new Washington Post/ABC news poll has all sorts of intriguing numbers in it but when you are looking for clues as to where the two parties stand politically there is only one number to remember: 21.

That's the percent of people in the Post/ABC survey who identified themselves as Republicans, down from 25 percent in a late March poll and at the lowest ebb in this poll since the fall of 1983(!).

In that same poll, 35 percent self-identified as Democrats and 38 percent called them Independents...
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/parsing-the-polls/21-percent.html

"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

Specter has always been a moderate. What choice did he have?
 
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  • #16
russ_watters
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Is it ethical for him to stay in office, since the political philosophy that got him elected has changed?
It hasn't changed. He's been liberal for quite some time, he's just been trying to play both sides of the field. Back in the '80s, that was important because of the strong support for the republican side of the fence. With democrats now in control, there is less downside for him to be honest (relatively - he says he's independend yet is joining the Democrats :rolleyes: )who he really is.

What this changes is only what Coin says: now he won't have people second-guessing his liberal tendancies and will be more free to express them. Expect his voting record to switch from slightly conservative, which it is now, to medium-liberal as a result.
 
  • #17
russ_watters
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Specter has always been a moderate. What choice did he have?
"Independent". He didn't choose the Democratic party because he is "moderate", he chose it because he is liberal but also an opportunist. He said it himself in that quote you posted:
Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.
Similarly, he wore the "republican" label more because he was an opportunist than a conservative.
 
  • #18
lisab
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"Independent". He didn't choose the Democratic party because he is "moderate", he chose it because he is liberal but also an opportunist. Similarly, he wore the "republican" label more because he was an opportunist than a conservative.

Just curious...how do you define liberal?
 
  • #19
Coin
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"Independent". He didn't choose the Democratic party because he is "moderate", he chose it because he is liberal.

He chose the Democratic party because he is more likely to win a general election against Pat Toomey than a three-way election against Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak. This is all about electoral politics, nothing to do with ideology or principles.
 
  • #20
turbo
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With democrats now in control, there is less downside for him to be honest (relatively - he says he's independend yet is joining the Democrats :rolleyes: )who he really is.
There is no point in him declaring himself an Independent if he wants to survive politically. The 2-party system is strangling our government and the gerrymandering of primary rules (state-by-state) makes it pretty darned tough for independents to get onto a general election ballot. Faced with this situation in an increasingly Democratic state, he had little choice.

Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins should follow him tomorrow, IMO. Maine went overwhelmingly for Obama, though Collins and Snowe are iron-clad in general elections due to strong bipartisan support. They should join the Dems and work from within to drive that party toward more fiscally-conservative policies. Both are well-respected in DC for their willingness to seek bipartisan compromises to address important problems. We have a tradition of pretty independent women politicians in Maine, not the least of whom was Margaret Chase Smith, who bucked her own party to challenge "Tail-Gunner Joe" and back him down from his communist witch-hunts.
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking
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"Independent". He didn't choose the Democratic party because he is "moderate", he chose it because he is liberal but also an opportunist.

A partisan assumption.

He said it himself in that quote you posted: Similarly, he wore the "republican" label more because he was an opportunist than a conservative.

He also said that the Republican party has left him. He was one of the few Reps who supported the stimulus package and apparently he took a lot of heat for it. Being a former Republican, and apparently as do 200,000 former Republicans from his State, and as do many former Republicans throughout the nation, I can easily understand his view that the party has gone over a cliff. Note also that everything looks "left" from the extreme right.

It would seem that for all practical purposes, the two major parties are now, the Democrats, and the Independents.
 
  • #23
turbo
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A partisan assumption.

He also said that the Republican party has left him. He was one of the few Reps who supported the stimulus package and apparently he took a lot of heat for it. Being a former Republican, and apparently as do 200,000 former Republicans from his State, and as do many former Republicans throughout the nation, I can easily understand his view that the party has gone over a cliff. Note also that everything looks "left" from the extreme right.

It would seem that for all practical purposes, the two major parties are now, the Democrats, and the Independents.
It's a hard truth. Maine was pretty solidly Republican when I was a kid, and (to the horror of my father who grew up through the Depression as a working-class stiff), I tended to support the GOP. I was disgusted by Nixon and regarded him as an aberration, but after Reagan grew government by over 25% after promising to shrink it, and gave large tax-cuts to the wealthy, so they could borrow and spend and let the wealthy trickle-down upon us if they wanted, I figured that the GOP was running away from me. Fiscal conservatism was abandoned and the party ran to political extremism to maintain a base of relatively poor, ignorant people who were willing to vote against their own interests as long as someone up front was waving an American flag and/or thumping a bible. If you want to get a historical perspective on this for the last 40 or so years, check what Pat Buchanan is saying about the GOP these days - "out of touch" "predominantly white" and "losing majority support" factor in there pretty well.
 
  • #25
LowlyPion
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With Spector abandoning the Party to Nowhere, it will likely further more disaffiliation.

Apparently the Christian Right has stormed the tent pushing their minority social agendas and the result has been repudiation at the polls. They've no one to blame but themselves for trashing the party and marginalizing it.

A virus isn't exactly all that successful if it ends in killing the host.
 
  • #26
russ_watters
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A partisan assumption.
It isn't an assumption, it is a conclusion drawn from his actions and statements. Calling it an assumption allows you to dismiss it without actually putting any thought into its merrit. It actually allows you to use assumption, rather than thought.

You need to use your mirror more.
He also said that the Republican party has left him. He was one of the few Reps who supported the stimulus package and apparently he took a lot of heat for it.
So you are saying that a massive government spending program is in line with the traditional conservative values? C'mon! On that issue in particular, he displayed his left leanings - the republicans did not move further to the right on an issue that has been central to the values for decades.
Note also that everything looks "left" from the extreme right.
I don't see the relevance of that statement. No one has argued that Spector has/had extreme views.
It would seem that for all practical purposes, the two major parties are now, the Democrats, and the Independents.
Really? And you base that on what, the number of Independent party politicians out there? Specter's move is clear evidence of exactly the opposite of what you just said: if anyone would want to be a member of the "Independent" party, a self-described "independent" would be it. He joined the Dems because there are only two viable choices.
 
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  • #27
russ_watters
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Regarding constant claims that the Republican party has moved further to the right, I'll grant you that the far right holds considerable sway, but if the power base really was as extreme as you guys like to think, there is no way a guy like John McCain could make it to Presidential candidate for the party.

What we are seeing in Obama's approval ratings and people's self-identification is nothing more than a rejection of Bush and reaction to the economy. It does not indicate a general shift in peoples' values. People don't change their values so easily. Attitudes are fickle. Values are not.
 
  • #28
russ_watters
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I'd like to see some comments on this opinion/prediction of mine:
What this changes is only what Coin says: now he won't have people second-guessing his liberal tendancies and will be more free to express them. Expect his voting record to switch from slightly conservative, which it is now, to medium-liberal as a result.
Do people agree/disagree with my prediction and if you agree, what does that say about Specter and/or the way our political system currently works? Ie, I could see him moving fully halfway across the US political spectrum with this. To me that says he's more of an opportunist than someone who does what he believes is right (a gradual shift would imply a gradual change in values). And I expect he's the rule, not the exception.

And if his voting record doesn't change, but instead remains moderately conservative while he wears a "democrat" button on his lappel, does that say anything better about him? I believe he's stuck in a course of action that regardless of how it plays out will reflect badly on him and I believe his transparent opportunism will cost him in the next election.
 
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  • #29
LowlyPion
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David Frum is laying the blame for Specter leaving at the feet of The Club for Growth.

His point is that in backing their loser candidates in the Republican primaries, and purging the party of the ideologically impure, by weakening them in the general election after a divisive primary battle, they have basically handed elections to Democrats in the general elections, because they drive away the moderate wing of their base and leave them financially drained like Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island. Now apparently they can take credit for promoting Toomey and driving Specter away.

http://www.newmajority.com/ShowScroll.aspx?ID=13e86822-61d6-459a-9aab-4fc32fc9acef [Broken]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Club_for_Growth
 
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  • #30
MATLABdude
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I'd like to see some comments on this opinion/prediction of mine: Do people agree/disagree with my prediction and if you agree, what does that say about Specter and/or the way our political system currently works? Ie, I could see him moving fully halfway across the US political spectrum with this. To me that says he's more of an opportunist than someone who does what he believes is right (a gradual shift would imply a gradual change in values). And I expect he's the rule, not the exception.

And if his voting record doesn't change, but instead remains moderately conservative while he wears a "democrat" button on his lappel, does that say anything better about him? I believe he's stuck in a course of action that regardless of how it plays out will reflect badly on him and I believe his transparent opportunism will cost him in the next election.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_switching_in_the_United_States

Among some notables: Ronald Reagan, Norm Coleman, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean

I think I noticed something (not based on this list, just a general observation). You'd think that people who undergo a change (lose/change/gain religion, political inclination, (non)popular, etc.) have more of an understanding of, or inclination towards those that they left behind, but the exact opposite seems to be true (hatred of, becoming the antithesis of what they were, etc.) I don't know whether that's just projection (total rejection of what they once were, illustrated by taking it out on others), or the zeal of conversion, or that the noisy switchers tend to extremes whatever they believe in, or what, but I thought it was kind of remarkable. Instead of being a bridge, they turn out to be moats.

I guess the bridges (or moderate converters?) tend to be the people that wear the identity pretty loosely in the first place.
 
  • #31
WhoWee
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I'd like to see some comments on this opinion/prediction of mine: Do people agree/disagree with my prediction and if you agree, what does that say about Specter and/or the way our political system currently works? Ie, I could see him moving fully halfway across the US political spectrum with this. To me that says he's more of an opportunist than someone who does what he believes is right (a gradual shift would imply a gradual change in values). And I expect he's the rule, not the exception.

And if his voting record doesn't change, but instead remains moderately conservative while he wears a "democrat" button on his lappel, does that say anything better about him? I believe he's stuck in a course of action that regardless of how it plays out will reflect badly on him and I believe his transparent opportunism will cost him in the next election.

I think you are on-target Russ...with one addition.

I think Specter realized the importance/full potential of his swing vote during the stimulus debate. By crossing over, he gets the support of the Dems for re-election, is no longer the Repub Black Sheep, and will be courted by both side for future votes.

This was the best move for Specter...he (probably) saved his seat (still has to get through Dem primary) and his power has increased substantially. He's no dummy.
 
  • #32
WhoWee
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_switching_in_the_United_States

Among some notables: Ronald Reagan, Norm Coleman, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean

I think I noticed something (not based on this list, just a general observation). You'd think that people who undergo a change (lose/change/gain religion, political inclination, (non)popular, etc.) have more of an understanding of, or inclination towards those that they left behind, but the exact opposite seems to be true (hatred of, becoming the antithesis of what they were, etc.) I don't know whether that's just projection (total rejection of what they once were, illustrated by taking it out on others), or the zeal of conversion, or that the noisy switchers tend to extremes whatever they believe in, or what, but I thought it was kind of remarkable. Instead of being a bridge, they turn out to be moats.

I guess the bridges (or moderate converters?) tend to be the people that wear the identity pretty loosely in the first place.

I don't want to muddy the thread...but consider Dick Morris under your template.
 
  • #33
LowlyPion
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I don't want to muddy the thread...but consider Dick Morris under your template.

Consider him for what? Tax cheat? Philanderer? Hilary-hater? Surely you don't think Dick Morris is a man of any non-dollar denominated principle. I'd say he's hardly a moat so much as a sink hole.

Check out his bio in detail.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Morris

A close reading reveals that he has changed nothing. His guiding principle looks to have always been Dick Morris.
 
  • #34
WhoWee
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Consider him for what? Tax cheat? Philanderer? Hilary-hater? Surely you don't think Dick Morris is a man of any non-dollar denominated principle. I'd say he's hardly a moat so much as a sink hole.

Check out his bio in detail.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Morris

A close reading reveals that he has changed nothing. His guiding principle looks to have always been Dick Morris.


Forget the moat thing. This is the post I responded to...please read. I think Morris is a good example.



Originally Posted by MATLABdude View Post

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_s..._United_States [Broken]

Among some notables: Ronald Reagan, Norm Coleman, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean

I think I noticed something (not based on this list, just a general observation). You'd think that people who undergo a change (lose/change/gain religion, political inclination, (non)popular, etc.) have more of an understanding of, or inclination towards those that they left behind, but the exact opposite seems to be true (hatred of, becoming the antithesis of what they were, etc.) I don't know whether that's just projection (total rejection of what they once were, illustrated by taking it out on others), or the zeal of conversion, or that the noisy switchers tend to extremes whatever they believe in, or what, but I thought it was kind of remarkable.
 
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  • #35
LowlyPion
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On a slightly more relevant note I see it written that:
Democrats Block Bachmann's Attempt To Switch Parties

..."We're telling Congresswoman Bachmann that we already have maxed out the number of Democrats allowed," said Democratic Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi. "If that doesn't work we're just going to bolt the door."

Unfortunately it is on the Huffington Post and so it must be discounted as to its accuracy or partisan free pov or satirical take on the state of the Republican Party.
 

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