Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Changing Horses

United States Senator Arlen Specter The Republican Senator from Pennsylvania has served since 1980 and has always been a bit of a counter voice among his party changed parties yesterday.

To show you where my flu addled brain wasn't yesterday when I first got the NY Times e-mail alert I wondered why this was important enough to waste ether space. But a friend called and reminded of just who Arlen Specter is. He has left his mark:

Arlen Specter’s five terms have made him the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Pennsylvania’s history. A voice of reason, his independence and balance have won endorsements from the AFL-CIO and high marks from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (100% in 2006), the National Association of Manufacturers (86% in 2006), and the Americans for Tax Reform (90% in 2006).

Time Magazine listed him among the ten best Senators in 2006. Knowlegis rated him the second most powerful Senator in 2006 behind only Majority Leader Bill Frist. A November 11, 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer editorial stated: “Senator Arlen Specter has more clout than some sovereign nations.”

The Republicans want us to believe he has left their party because polls showed he would lose in the primary in his state and this is all about staying in the senate at any costs. Senator Specter says it is the Republican party that has left him. During the last Bush presidency he counseled compromise and conciliation in a Congress which established new records for partisan discord. In foreign affairs, he advocated dialogue and accommodation as an antidote to belligerency and saber rattling. There definitely seemed to be a parting of ways. And his decision to change party affiliation is just the official divorce as it were.

It also highlights an interesting turn in politics these days. The Obama win showed a breakdown in the Red State/Blue State political Mason-Dixon line and now there seems to be less division between Republicans and Democrats - at last real division. The extreme ends of both parties are no longer the leaders as to direction, especially in the Republican party which is in shambles scrambling for a new leader.

Every year more and more voters define themselves as independents or class themselves as centralist on issues. And in these trying global times we want leadership and not party rhetoric. And a lot of us are very, very angry at the belligerency and saber rattling and witch hunting of GW's terms in office. We would like to heal this nation and work together. If that means a few party leaders crossing the lines then I am all for it. Way to go Senator Specter.