This past week, Arlen Specter decided that being a Republican in Pennsylvania is like having the plague (or swine flu) and he switched sides. Now he is Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania). To my fellow Democrats who think now we’ll have that magical filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, I wouldn’t hold my breath. He’s already said he would oppose legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform; and even voted against the President’s budget the day after his announcement. This move was purely self-preservation on Arlen Specters part, and nobody should be duped to think otherwise-Democrats or Republicans.
But this does signal something more troubling for Republicans: they will continue to lose elections in 2010. Instead of moving towards the center of the Republican ideology, they are moving further right. And whether you believe this country is center-right or center-left, we’d all agree the collective ideology of the country is somewhere in the center. In Specter’s case, his Senate colleagues were disenchanted with his support of the President’s stimulus package, and vowed to rally around his 2010 primary challenger, Pat Toomey. While Specter was considered a moderate republican or “center-right”, Toomey is as far to the right as they come. While Toomey would have probably won the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, the election would not have fared as well for him in a state that overwhelmingly voted for President Obama. His democratic challenger would have won.
The Republican Party has become a party of absolutes. To be a part of the club, you have to be anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-union, pro-business, a card-toting NRA member, and a devout Christian. If there is any slight variance in the ideology, you are out of the club. Some in the party are even requesting for John McCain to switch sides, because he doesn’t believe enough in those core principles.
If that is what the Republicans want to be, then they will only enjoy the company of 27% or so of the electorate. That won’t win elections.
To make matters worse, their arguments have become nonsensical. What is their answer to the economic crisis? To just say no on the stimulus bill, and more tax cuts for the wealthy. What is their answer to the health care crisis? To do nothing, cause then the illegal Mexicans will get free healthcare and then we’ll have a fascist socialist state. What is their reason for opposing legislation to extend hate crimes to include violent crimes against gays? To deny that violent crimes against gays exist. The majority of people can’t identify with the nonsense. They need leaders that offer solutions, or at least opposing viewpoints that make sense and quick, before the public totally quits listening to them.
As a progressive Democrat, I am somewhat reveling in their self-destruction. Yet, I also understand for the health of our Democratic Republic, we need a viable second party. Perhaps, a new party will emerge that will represent more of the people. For now, Republicans are only pushing themselves further into irrelevancy, which will only result in higher Democrat majorities.