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Raising the Specter of One-Party Rule

April 29, 2009

After assuring us that he won’t switch to the Democratic Party and singing the praises of a two-party system a few weeks back, Senator Specter has changed his mind and deserts the Republicans to increase his hopes to win the primaries, any primaries, in Pennsylvania. But this is not the first time that Monsieur Specter has switched parties. He has gone from the Democrats to the Republicans in 1965 (hat tip to David Freddoso). So when Specter says “I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system.” he means that he himself desperately needs a two-party system so he can switch sides whenever convenient, true to his opportunist philosophy.

While the French Cowboy isn’t shedding tears over Monsieur Specter’s decision to leave the GOP where he didn’t really seem to belong in the first place, it certainly doesn’t help the Republicans when it comes to voting in Congress. With the big-mouthed Clown Franken likely to become Senator of Minnesota the Democrats will have reached the magic (and in this case tragic) threshold of 60 votes in the Senate. (On the other hand, who cares for how many seats the minority party has since they can be passed over through abusing the budget reconciliation rule, as Democrats are willing to do in order to sign up generations of Americans for a costly, likely mandatory and single-payer health care programme.)

Then there is the image issue. The French Cowboy doesn’t buy into the narrative that the GOP is in urgent need of a ‘brand’ and a ‘leader’. They are the minority party that has just lost a presidential election, so for the time being they are almost by definition without a leader. As to the Republican ‘brand’ it has to be defined by the stand they take on the issues that life throws up, so it’s an every-day effort that comes naturally by being a political party. But the Specter news aren’t good for the GOP. It hardly matters who Senator Specter is, it is enough for people to learn that a Republican Senator is leaving his party in order to join the Democrats and it will reflect good on the Dems and bad on the GOP.

There is a silver lining, though, as pointed out by Michael Franc. With their new majority there will be renewed attention given to what the moderate Democratic senators are doing:

Specter’s switch means that at least one Democratic vote — and often two or three — will be required to torpedo way-out liberal legislation. Moderate Democrats can no longer sit back and laugh as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ken.) tries to maintain perfect unity among his ideologically diverse caucus, with the national media focused on nasty intramural GOP blood feuds. No, moderate Democrats will soon realize that they are the only ones standing between President Obama and some monumental (and uber liberal) legislative accomplishment.

And the Democrat moderates and freshmen Franc names (Bayh, Nelson, Landrieu, Begich, etc) are representing strongly conservative states, so simply going along with the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda won’t work well for them. With power comes responsibility, as fictional superheroes know.

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