Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Democrats Government Republicans Politics

Senator Arlen Specter Becomes a Democrat 1124

Posted by kdawson
from the crossing-the-aisle dept.
Akido37 was one of many readers letting us know that US Sen. Arlen Specter has changed parties to become a Democrat. This gives the Democrats 59 seats in the Senate, and 60 if and when Al Franken gets seated from Minnesota. However, Specter said in his announcement that he will not be an automatic 60th vote for breaking Republican filibusters. While the senator's move seems to have surprised many Republicans, it is understandable to moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who said, "You haven't certainly heard warm encouraging words of how they [Republicans] view moderates. Either you are with us or against us." Specter noted that in his home state of Pennsylvania, 200,000 formerly Republican voters switched party allegiance last year.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Senator Arlen Specter Becomes a Democrat

Comments Filter:
  • And.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @03:53PM (#27749769)
    ...nothing of value was lost or gained.
    • Re:And.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Duradin (1261418) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:20PM (#27750211)

      Republicrat or Democan, the only difference is where their pocket change comes from (and it doesn't come from We, the people).

      Sure, sure, they each use different issues to trap you into voting against the other guy (who really votes *FOR* anyone these days?). But each side knows they need the other and that no matter who has the majority the "big" issues can't ever be completely done away with (what would they run on then?).

  • Shift in dynamics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @03:55PM (#27749803) Homepage
    This does pose a dramatic shift in the balance of power. While a lot of votes do go on party lines, often most of what happens is self interest, with politicians doing what is most likely to keep them in office. Specter is just doing a better job of staying with the times rather than any real change in his personal convictions.
    • by evilbessie (873633) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:04PM (#27749929)
      He lies in the middle of the political spectrum and he feels that he might get a more of a chance to air his views with the democrats than with the republicans, who from the UK at least seem to be crazy right wing nut jobs at the moment, well more so than usual. Seems like a sensible move to me.
      • by cbreaker (561297) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:16PM (#27750137) Journal
        They seem like crazy nut jobs here, too. Every time I hear another insane rant about "Obama's Fascist Regime" it pushes me further and further away from the Republican party.

        They are SO upset that they lost the election and they're going ape shit. Instead of trying to push their message with resonable thought, they force it on you with words of communism and "fascism."

        The more they do it though, the less people they will inevitably get to vote for them. You might get some simple people to believe the nonsense but not a thinking person.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ArcherB (796902)

          They seem like crazy nut jobs here, too. Every time I hear another insane rant about "Obama's Fascist Regime" it pushes me further and further away from the Republican party.

          They are SO upset that they lost the election and they're going ape shit. Instead of trying to push their message with resonable thought, they force it on you with words of communism and "fascism."

          So 100 days of Republican bitching has more of an effect than 8 years of relentless Bush Bashing?

          • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:27PM (#27752365) Homepage

            So 100 days of Republican bitching has more of an effect than 8 years of relentless Bush Bashing?

            In retrospect, the left clearly did not bash Bush enough. Two failed wars, deregulation of banks that have destroyed the economy, deregulation of industry which has lead to increased polution, removal of personal civil rights, the loss of our standing in the world... This vs. Obama's slight change in the tax structure to let the super-wealthy bear a little bit more of the burden, and the attempt to provide federal assistance through the depression.

            The noisy ones on the extreme right wing of the Republican party should be ashamed of themselves, including but not limited to the folks on Fox who have clearly sold their souls.

        • by realnrh (1298639) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:39PM (#27750555) Journal
          As said by the estimable Jon Stewart, "I think they're confusing tyranny with losing." It makes them look unhinged.
        • by tbannist (230135) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:23PM (#27751423)

          That's pretty much it. The Republicans have been reduced to the anti-Democrat party. As long as Obama remains reasonable and intelligent, the Republicans are left with crazy and stupid.

          I'd like them to take a little time, and find the party that used to be smart and conservative rather than the party that panders to the bottom half of the electorate.

    • Re:Shift in dynamics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:14PM (#27750119)
      Rather than being a change in personal convictions, Specter claims the opposite: that the Republicans have shifted away from him, i.e. more to the right. I think that sounds pretty accurate, don't you? For example, the chair of the Republican party has recently been apologized to Rush Limbaugh for stating the obvious, that Limbaugh is incendiary. While this is circumstantial, it's still pretty compelling that the Republican party has become more radical from the 1980s where it was a "big tent" kind of party.

      This will be interesting though! Just for yucks, I went over to fox news to see what they had to say about it, and their first headline read "Specter abandons millions of GOP voters to join the democratic party." I think that's pretty funny since Specter himself says the GOP voters are abandoning the GOP. That is, he says 200k registered republicans switched parties in the last election in pennsylvania. (They've got something else up now about him being a party pooper.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        The Republican Party hasn't had anything resembling a "big tent" since before Nixon. Arlen Spector, Christie Whitman, and other moderates fit in with the Republicans about as well as a war-mongering, bible-thumping Joe Lieberman fits in with the Democrats.
  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @03:58PM (#27749847)

    ...Specter was a Republican to begin with?

  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:01PM (#27749897) Journal
    Gee - big surprise. This news comes just a weekend after news that his primary challenger, Pat Toomey, is showing a commanding lead in the polls [thebulletin.us].
    • by encoderer (1060616) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:14PM (#27750113)

      To quote a smart man, "Gee - big surprise."

      The GOP has shrunk a great deal in the last 4 years. Moderates and Independents left the party. Millions of them.

      The result is a GOP that is far more conservative than it was as recently as the 2004 election.

      BushCo drove so many sane people out of the GOP that the only people left are of the dyed-in-the-wool variety.

      Such a party is not going to nominate a moderate. Specter knew that. Everybody knew that.

      The people of PA have re-elected Specter many times. By switching parties he's preventing a small group of very conservative voters from restricting the people of PA from electing somebody they've supported over and over in the past.

      This would all be moot if PA, like most states, had open primaries where registered dems and indies could vote in the GOP primary if they chose to do so.

  • Ugh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Argumentator (1524195) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:03PM (#27749917)

    While I may support Democrats more than the Republicans, I find the general principle of changing parties mid-term a disgusting and cowardly betrayal of trust.

    You were elected as a Republican, for better or for worse. You should either finish your term as one, or if you can no longer consider yourself a Republican, resign. At the next election, feel free to run as a Democrat or whoever the hell you want. But for this term, you should act for the people who elected you. That's the principle of representative democracy.

    I'd even accept the compromise of, when one leaves or is kicked out of the party, he/she should have the right to stay as an Independent member until the next election. But joining a party different from the one you were elected under, in the middle of your term, should be outright unconstitutional.

    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:11PM (#27750043)

      I find the principle of political parties disgusting and cowardly.

      If you vote for the party, you deserve to get raped by your representative.

      He was elected as Arlen Specter, and he's the same Arlen Specter he was last week. If you voted for him solely because of the R next to his name, you don't deserve a vote at all.

      • by Argumentator (1524195) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:32PM (#27750393)

        You are basing your argument on the classical philosophy that a vote, when cast for a person, essentially places trust in that person to serve as he or she sees fit, for the duration of his term.

        I call that position bullshit and reject it in principle. I refuse to place unconditional trust in a politician, or be so naive as to believe that he is indeed there to serve his constituency. Politicians will always do what is in their self interest (wow, just like the rest of us). That's why we have the party system, so we have an extra layer of protection. We don't JUST vote for Specter, just like we don't just vote for any Republican. We vote for both. We vote for Specter AS LONG AS he maintains the principles of the party he was running under, in this case, Republican.

        Partisanism has lots of problems, but I firmly believe that the extra layer of safeguarding against do-what-I-fuckin-like politicians makes it worthwhile. We don't place unlimited trust in the guy, we only vote for him as long as he maintains integrity to the party under which he ran.

        If someone WANTS to run under the platform of "unlimited trust", he should run as Independent. There's a reason why almost nobody gets elected as one.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:14PM (#27751247) Journal

          That's why we have the party system, so we have an extra layer of protection

          Nonsense. The party system we have was not designed. There is nothing in the constitution about political parties, and in fact George Washington argued strongly against political parties in his farewell address. Our party system evolved for one reason and one reason only, because it is easier to get elected if you're in a party than not.

          We don't place unlimited trust in the guy, we only vote for him as long as he maintains integrity to the party under which he ran

          Political parties don't fix this issue, they just shift it. Instead of placing trust in the guy you vote for, you place trust in the party you vote for. I don't see how one is better than the other. Well, I do, considering that a person can have a conscience and a political party cannot, I'd rather trust the person. (Of course, since it's politics, I don't really trust anyone.)

    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:11PM (#27750055)

      Nonsense. Party lines are more harmful than they are helpful. Also, he doesn't ONLY represent republican voters in the state, he represents ALL the voters in the state. So your notion that switching midterm is disgusting is just plain stupid, and hows your zealotry along party lines.

      Personally, I'm inclinded to go with the founders, who believed parties were a bad idea. I think our history shows that to be true, and I'm in favor of doing away with political parties all together. Explain your ideas, don't just say "I'm a republican!" (or democrat).

  • Neo-Conservatives (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigby (659157) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:06PM (#27749961)

    This just goes to show that the neo-cons have brought the Republican party to its knees. When are they going to learn. They now have the "fiscal conservative" religion, but there is a lot of doubt whether they can follow through with what they can say.

    Fiscal policies aside, their doom was being so darn war driven. Not that the Dems aren't, but they took it to a new level.

    Specter would have been smarter to have went independent. Does he really need a party? He has the name recognition.

    • Re:Neo-Conservatives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:32PM (#27750391) Homepage Journal

      It's a bit too simplistic to call all the people responsible for the Republicans' fiasco neo-cons.

      The Republicans looked very powerful around the time of GW Bush's first election, but what they had is something we old time Democrats knew a lot about: a big tent coalition. We had the cultural elite and labor, and Reagan figured out that that was a fracture line he could split Democratic support along.

      The difference is that the Republican coalition had even less coherence than the Democrats, and underwent spontaneous implosion as they tried to put together an agenda that pleased everyone in the tent: Westerners of a libertarian bent, the old economic and intellectual elite of the Republican party, the evangelicals, the flat out racists. That's why they could never control spending, they were too busy keeping everybody in the tent happy. They fooled themselves into thinking they were cleverly doing this temporarily so they could "starve the beast" until such a time the system began to fall apart. That was stupid. You can't starve the beast. If you try, then when things start to fall apart it just reaches out and eats you alive.

      Still, if you want to find a scapegoat, look the the Southern social conservatives. It was their backing of the messianic mission of the neo-cons that allowed them to hijack foreign policy.

      Nixon invited the old enemies of the Republicans economic elites into th party, the old Dixiecrats. They became powerful, like the far out religious parties in Israel, because they were the key to power. They're the ones that run the Republican party; not the people who elected Eisenhower. It's too bad, because the old economic and intellectual elite of the Republican party weren't such a bad bunch, if you kept an eye on them. The country needs people like that, even if you didn't want them to have unchallenged control over policy.

      But those old time Republicans don't have any place to go now. The Republican party has been redefined out from under them. It's now the party of anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, and racism, all things that were anathema to those old time conservatives.

      Maybe it's time for a Grand New Party.

  • First of Many (Score:4, Insightful)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:08PM (#27749999) Journal

    You know, this is a good move for Pennsylvania. Spector has been demonized by his own party for some time now. VERY wierd for a 30 year senator in a party that embraced Ted Stevens so fondly.

    One of the important parts of all this is that Democrats agreed not to run a candidate against him in the primaries. The GOP has at least 3 candidates they wanted to run against him in the primaries before he made the switch.

    The thing about the GOP that really sucks is that it eats it's own when it loses. Spector is not the only senator who has been castigated by his own party in a state that is becoming more progressive. Don't be surprised to see this happen again in the next 12 months.

    M

  • Mixed value. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:10PM (#27750029) Journal
    Bad:

    1. his presence will serve as a brake on more progressive legislation.

    2. being a Democrat will prevent the Dems from offering up a more progressive candidate to oppose him had he stayed Republican.

    3. He'll likely vote as a "liberal" Republican, ie: with the interests of capital in economics, in the interests of no one in particular (i.e. who ever pays his bills) in social issues.

    Good:

    1. He'll likely vote with the Dems about 60% of the time.

    2. This will force the Republican party (now the property of ignorance and corruption) to be more considerate and thoughtful of their positions.

    3. This could lead to someone like Snowe defecting as well, which would really bury the Republican part, possibly for good, as it could split between the Bible Thumping retard faction and the neocon fascist faction, which would work to the benefit of the Democrats.

    RS

  • by QuickSilver_999 (166186) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:13PM (#27750089)

    It's a joke. Who cares? Specter was pretty much a lock on most votes for the Democrats anyway. He was just a way for them to get a Republican to vote with them and then scream about how great they are at "bipartisanship." LOOK! A REPUBLICAN SUPPORTS US! Ignore all the others that stand by their principles. He's been pretty much a schmuck who basically votes to please Philly and Pittsburgh. The rest of us he thinks can all go hang.

    He's 79. Have you ever noticed politicians all want you and me to retire by 72 at the latest? But they're supposed to keep getting into office until they're dead? And in some cases afterward? We need to have an age limit on politicians and judges. Over 70 and they should ALL be forced out of office. That's a law that really needs to be passed.

  • Awesome. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:14PM (#27750093) Homepage Journal

    First I am a conservative though not a Republican. I am all for this.

    I want the Democrats to have to own what happens the next few years. After all the years of hearing them harp on Bush deficits I want them to have undeniable majority so they are undeniably responsible for the economy busting budgets they are signing off on. I want ownership to be a non question. While there are good people on both sides of the aisle as a whole I think the entire Congress stinks.

    Their actions have become the best reason for term limits. Too many of them think themselves as kings and queens, benevolent in their view because they know better and they are better - in their own minds. They game the system ensuring two party rule and the American people are more enamored with American idol personalities and similar : see Obama.

    Now we just need Snowe to flip. She is nothing more than a RINO as well. Make them honest - if you vote one way consistently then be willing to take up the mantle of the party you align with. That way when it comes time to swap parties in power you can get outed. The tragedy is that most won't. They have so many connections and so much power from their office that unseating them takes serious criminal acts and even that is not a guarantee they don't get back in.

    Its a great day. Now the Democrats have their "majority" and the hot seat is all theirs. The question becomes, do they do to Obama what they did to Clinton? See the flip side is that when one group has a real majority they don't answer to anyone - including the President. After all they no longer need them. It also leads to internal factions which happened to them in the early nineties. That majority benefits and hurts them.

    But the key is, they cannot escape the responsibility for the spending spree or legislation. It will give Obama a convincing excuse too for what he signs off. So he can claim its not what he really wants "but the reality of the situation..."

    So, awesome, and lol. Can't wait to see all the excuses for doing stuff that people would eviscerate Republicans for doing.

    • Re:Awesome. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:38PM (#27750535) Homepage Journal

      I want the Democrats to have to own what happens the next few years. After all the years of hearing them harp on Bush deficits I want them to have undeniable majority so they are undeniably responsible for the economy busting budgets they are signing off on.

      Lord preserve us from such conservative wishing.

      There was a time when conservatives saw this country as something more than a wall for spraying political graffiti onto, or fuel for their rally's bonfire They used to care for traditions, principles, and institutions.

  • by Orne (144925) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:35PM (#27750457) Homepage

    For those that are not aware:

    • Unlike other new england/midatlantic states, Pennsylvania's Primary system is restricted by party registration. Democrats voting in the primary can only select who the democrat nominee is, and Republican can only select the republican, and third party selects third party, etc.
    • Last year, the big contest was Obama versus Clinton for Democrat presidential nominee. By the time PA came around in the primaries, late, only McCain remained, so a Republican vote meant nothing; only 26% of registered Republicans voted.
    • There was a huge drive by radio personalities last year to have Republicans switch their party status to Democrat to vote in the election. Additionally, many people felt abandoned by spend-happy double-talking Republicans. Many ended up leaving the party, 200,000 is the reported number. PA had a record turnout for Clinton, but that's besides the point.
    • Forward to 2009, the registered Republicans who are left are pretty much hard-core conservatives: stop the spending, get government out of business, etc etc
    • Over the last couple of years, Sen. Specter has behaved in a manner that is against the core of the party, voting in favor of dozens of high-priced spending bills, in favor of the bailouts, etc
    • Sen. Specter is up for re-election this year, and his advanced polling is showing his Republican support at about 20% for / 80% against. It is almost certain that he will not be the Republican nominee next spring, since he is running against the same challenger who almost unseated him 6 years ago when Specter had huge party support.
    • Sen. Specter has now switched his party to Democrat to take advantage of PA demographics, and possibly extend his political career an additional term instead of being voted out by his constituents in disgrace: "On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate" - Specter [politico.com]
  • by shma (863063) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:42PM (#27750601)
    This is from Glenn Greenwald [salon.com]:

    Arlen Specter is one of the worst, most soul-less, most belief-free individuals in politics. The moment most vividly illustrating what Specter is: prior to the vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, he went to the floor of the Senate and said what the bill "seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years" and is "patently unconstitutional on its face." He then proceeded to vote YES on the bill's passage.

    • the quote in context (Score:5, Interesting)

      by viralMeme (1461143) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @04:48PM (#27750725)
      "Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, pressed an amendment [nytimes.com] that would strike a provision from the bill that prohibits terror suspects from challenging their detention in the courts. ''What the bill seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years,'' said Mr. Specter, who traced the ability to challenge one's detention to the Magna Carta"
      • by shma (863063) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @05:21PM (#27751375)

        "Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, pressed an amendment [nytimes.com] that would strike a provision from the bill that prohibits terror suspects from challenging their detention in the courts. ''What the bill seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years,'' said Mr. Specter, who traced the ability to challenge one's detention to the Magna Carta"

        The amendment failed. And he voted for the bill anyways. Even though he said that without the amendment, it set back basic rights by 900 years. Please explain how your context shows he was being anything but a hypocrite.

  • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Tuesday April 28, 2009 @06:22PM (#27752305)

    You get someone who never forgets he's an ass.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

Working...