Economics

Arlen Specter, Democrat

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The Pennsylvania senator, long a target of conservative ire, has switched parties.

Bearish on Republicans

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.

I have decided to run for reelection in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

Full statement here.

As a pox-on-both-houses type, and someone who genuinely believes that most interesting political developments will take place far outside the racket's most "professional" arenas, I am always delighted to be reminded of the commonalities between the two big parties, particularly concerning their behavior in power. Throat-clearing aside, this strikes me as no favor at all to the Democrats. By choosing to die on the hill of the stimulus package of all things, Specter reinforces whatever notion there is that stimuli and bailouts are Democratic, not Republican, pet toys. Since professional Republicans are currently scattered in the wind, trying desperately to latch onto the anti-stimulus/bailout Tea Party movement, cementing that divide may come back to haunt Democrats when those policies (inevitably, I think) become so derided that even Barack Obama's impressive popularity can't rescue them.

Reason on Specter here.