So, Arlen Specter is now officially a Democrat. Big deal. I have been reading the polls for weeks showing that he was losing heartily against his conservative primary challenger. This is not really surprising.
What is surprising, although I guess it shouldn’t be, is that everyone is saying this is bad for the Republican Party because it shows that they are no longer a national party.
This is bunk. The last time the Republican Party was ideologically conservative, they had historic wins. (Yes, I am talking about 1994.) People like Arlen “Spendulus” Specter are obstacles to that end. How is his leaving a problem?
The Democrats are trying to turn this into “the Republicans went too far to the right,” but even they haven’t been able to stop the truth from getting out that this was purely to save Specter’s own butt.
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said that in a private meeting with Republicans, Specter “gave a purely political explanation. … He said: ‘I’ve looked at the polls. I can’t win as a Republican, I can’t win as an independent. The only way I have a shot is to be a Democrat.’”
As recently as late winter, Specter was asked by a reporter why he had not taken Democrats up on past offers to switch parties.
“Because I am a Republican,” he said.
I fail to see how losing an unprincipled opportunist can be anything but good for the party that was brought down by its own political opportunism.
In my view, the Republican Party will never gain credibility with conservatives, or with anyone for that matter, until every last unprincipled opportunist, every member who betrayed ideology for power and political gain, is gone.
It was not conservatism that brought down the Republican Party; the Republican Party has not represented conservatism in years. George W. Bush was not conservative, not in the limited government, fiscal conservative sense. John McCain was not conservative, either. To the extent he pretended to be on the campaign trial, he failed to articulate it well to the American people.
If conservatism is really dead, if it really is a losing political philosophy in 21st century America, then why have the left, the Democratic Party, and the President of the United States tried to marginalize it? Why the feigned concern that Specter’s departure is bad for the Republican Party? Why seek to marginalize Rush Limbaugh and FOX news? Why classify mainstream conservative thinking as right-wing extremism? Why mock the tea parties?
Why not let conservatism go head-to-head with liberalism, progressivism, social democracy, or whatever you want to call it? Why not let America hear the best arguments on both sides and make a choice?
Answer: because conservastism is not dead. Not even close.