Just over a year ago, Arlen Specter, a fairweather Republican at best, finally came out of the closet and switched to the Democratic party. Lauded by the Obama administration and welcomed heartily by the Democratic party that had worked so closely with him over the years, Specter seemed to feel at peace with his new left-leaning home.
After all, the prospect of running and losing in the 2010 Republican primary against an opponent he had barely defeated in 2004 would be an enormous embarrassment and a tragic end to such a long career. But as is often the case, when Democrats are given a choice between a real Democrat and a moderate Democrat, they will choose a real one. Arlen Specter had fought for his own relevance in Washington and lost. In an attempt to avoid embarrassment, he got embarrassed.
Specter's loss simply reflects the polarization that is going on in American politics today. Bart Stupak, a "pro-life" Democrat, retired. Evan Bayh, a moderate Democrat, retired. Specter, a moderate Democrat, loses. Bob Bennett, a slightly moderate Republican, lost in the GOP primary. Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican who infamously hugged Obama, had to bail out of the GOP primary in his state to keep from getting trounced, and it looks like he might suffer from "Specter syndrome" as well.
Americans, right or left, want the real thing. While many, like David Frum, would consider a moderate to be the best of both worlds, we are finding out that in most cases, Americans want their leaders to take a stand on one side or the other. If you're a pro-choice liberal, be a pro-choice liberal. Don't be afraid to say it. Don't be afraid to be honest about it. If you're a pro-life conservative, don't hide your beliefs, flaunt them.
The problem with Specter, along with much of Washington's political class, is that they have blurred the lines in the center so much that Americans don't know what color they're supposed to be looking at. Is it red, blue, purple, or even lavender? If Americans have to wonder what side you're on, you can bet that they won't be on yours.
Specter won't be alone though. I'm sure there are many other wishy-washy politicians that will be joining him in early retirement when November rolls around….Powered by Sidelines