Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.
When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.
Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.
For Democrats, this must be the kind of news you sit and savor, having had a number of their Party members bolt ship over the past several decades. And for the Republicans, this speaks to the kind of trouble they will have in the Rustbelt States, where evangelical partisanship of any stripe does not fly.
And for the Democrats, they probably should contain their glee and continue to monitor their vote from Connecticut. With news of Specter's defection and with Senator Al Franken set to arrive anytime now (or as soon as Norm Coleman does what Al Gore did in 2000, and face reality about winning without any chance of winning), I would not be surprised to hear that Senator Lieberman decides it is time to join the Republican ranks.
There are some questions set to be answered, such as where does Specter stand via seniority, for instance? What will be his standing in Committee? Despite his recent outrage about the exercise of presidential power, this was a guy who bent to White House demands that no witness (either nominee or official) be required to swear to tell the truth.