28 April 2009

Undeniable Proof of my Naivete

Arlen Specter is still Purple, and it's a good thing, too.

The story all over DC is about Arlen Specter switching parties from the Republicans to the Democrats. Big deal. He was never really a Republican, if you define Republican as someone who does know what he thinks about something until Karl Rove tells him (substitute Nancy Pelosi for Democrats).

The article at Raw Story notes:
“Because of the shrinking Republican vote in the state, Specter was seen as a dead man walking politically in the primary with polling showing him trailing Toomey by ten or more points. The bar for Specter to run as an independent was also extremely high due to the rules governing such a third party candidacy. That left a Democratic candidacy as Specter’s best option if he wanted to remain in the Senate beyond 2010.”
And there's my problem with reductive, binary political parties. I don't mean to sound like a deconstructionist here, but we need to break the two-party system apart. Any systems that forces someone like Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic party largely because of his views on the Iraq War and forces Specter out of the Republican party largely because of his progressive views on social issues is broken. No dissent within the ranks is tolerated--and it's not because either party somehow wants to retain a purity of thought. It's because the two-party system creates binaries: Dems think the stimulus package is good, so GOPers think it's bad; GOPers think deregulation is good, so Dems think it's bad. If you have a significant member of your party (like Lieberman and Specter) who break ranks on major issues, the opposing party will use that against you ("Even some high-ranking members of Party X think Issue Y is a bad idea.")

I've talked about them before, but groups like the Log Cabin Republicans are long-suffering for no real reason. It's a label that has marginalized them; on almost every other issue, they are conservative, but their sexuality has marginalized them in their own party. If Obama goes through with his promise to cut wasteful or underperforming governmental programs, some social programs are going to get the axe. That is a very un-Democrat thing to do, and it will piss some people off. Again, ideology is getting in the way of pragmatism. The perfect, to borrow from Obama, has become the enemy of the good.

I'm not sure I wanted Specter to change parties. It's not fair to him, and it's not really fair to his constituents. Why couldn't there be room in each party for some overlap?

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