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Specter and the Dying Breed of Moderates

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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….

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About Braden

  • It’s not that moderates are dying out, it’s just that they have (with some exceptions like Specter) come to realize that there are places where you compromise and others where you do not. Specter was always too willing to compromise the best interests of his constituents and the nation and to compromise on basic principles. We’re not having that anymore.

    Pat Toomey is probably as socially moderate as Specter, but based on his track record he is not willing to compromise and sell out where it really matters, when it comes to the rights of the people and the welfare of the Republic.


  • Cannonshop

    It’s the difference between a true “Moderate” who represents his or her district, and someone who’s basically an opportunist.

    Specter was the latter, and it shows-first a narrow win in a primary against a republican challenger in ’04, now a loss against a Democrat challenger in the primary in 2010.

    As a conservative, one of the pols I most respect is a hard-core Liberal Democrat from Central Seattle. Jim McDermott-why? because He Represents His District. he does so first, and foremost. (mind you, his district is an area that’s so far left they make Berkeley California look Republican by comparison).

    The core of being a “Moderate” (like, say Pat Toomey) is putting your constituents ahead of ANY Ideological positions. Spector didn’t do that-he put ‘compromise’ first, and after a while, the voters can smell that-after a while, they’re not keen on ‘yes men’ of ANY stripe.

    It is my observation that given a choice between, say, a ‘yes man’ make-believe conservative and a genuine Liberal, or the same and a genuine Conservative, voters will pick the guy who actually has something he believes in, and they’ll choose the one that they think represents their interests, dreams and desires more completely.

  • Baronius

    Braden misses the point about Specter. Just because he votes in the middle doesn’t mean he’s a compromiser or a moderate. He attacks anyone he disagrees with, be it Robert Bork or Anita Hill. He’s told Republicans for years that he’s the real Republican, not them. That’s why he is hated by the PA GOP. He wasn’t welcomed by the Democrats either, losing seniority after his switch.

    As for Toomey, Dave is wrong. Toomey has a 0% NARAL rating. He’s favored school prayer, a gay marriage ban, and the war on drugs. He’s a social conservative.

  • More than ever you need a viable third party.

    Doesn’t particuloarly matter if it’s centrist, to the right of the GOP or to the left of the Dems – just as long as there’s some sort of middle ground to take refuge in.

  • Instant Karma took 30 years to catch up with “moderate” Arlen Specter. Anyone who would come up with the Magic Bullet fairy tale to help obscure what really happened on November 22, 1963 deserves a far worse fate than merely to lose a primary election at age 80 and have to retire.

  • Are you referring to JFK asasination?

  • I started out in American politics as a Republican. My first loyalties always lay with the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt – a party that no longer even exists. Let me take off my kippá for just a moment of silence in honor of a party that could have been the alabaster castle of a mighty City on the Hill that is no more.

    Looking at all this with the perspective of one who views Ronald Reagan as a bad dream (Goldwater was a social moderate, an economic conservative, a nationalist and AN HONEST MAN – Reagan played a ‘B’ movie actor’s “conservative” to hide a nonsense agenda), I have to say that “moderate Republicans” who represented Main Street and social liberals – people like Arlen Specter – were once the mainstay of the party. The “conservative” types who have seized control of the party of Lincoln have made it a mockery of what it once was, and certainly made it a mockery of what it could have been had Lincoln not been assassinated, or had TR not retired in 1908.

    The coup that killed the Republican Party, (and is now killing the United States in its delayed blowback) IMHO, was the accession of Ronald Reagan to its leadership, and to the presidency, and of George Bush, that son of a traitor, to the vice presidency.

    Reagan lied to the social conservatives, and never backed their anti-abortion campaign, he lied to the American people, and spent like a drunken sailor in a epic campaign to pour money into a weak economy, he sat silent as fat capitalists moved capital overseas and allowed America to become a debtor nation once again. He was indeed like the man he worshiped, Calvin Coolidge, and what I have listed above are just a few of his many sins. Bush, the evil svengali who was running the show while the old man slept at cabinet meetings, cut deals with the capitalists, with his Wahhabi masters, and with the mullahs of the “Islamic Republic”, to make it look okay and smell pretty. The champions and worshipers of the late Mr. Reagan always hark back to his “defeat” of the Soviet Union. But the Russian Bear, still stinking of communist feces, has returned to terrorize the Eurasian continent once again.

    The Republican Party died in 1980 in a pauper’s grave, and a pathetic imposter, a mockery of the old Southern Democrats of Strom Thurmond, a bunch barely able to hide the KKK sheet under their suits, has been striding the American political stage since. Arlen Specter was the last gasp, the sole ghost, the death rattle, of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. And in the end, even he abandoned the name “Republican” because the party he had grown up in was dead.

    As for the Democrats, they are now the party, not of Jim Crow, as they had been for decades in the south of the United States, but of a militant Crow Jim (blacks bigoted against whites), allied with the élites of Hahvahd, Yale and Princeton, who think that Americans should be ruled over by their little club – an expanded version of the Skull and Bones bunch. This two-headed monster, with both its heads owned by the crony capitalists of Wall Street, is what is leading you, like the vicious beast of Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”, to your destruction. What a pathetic sight.

    Cry the beloved country.

  • Clavos