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Arlen Specter, Party Switching and Political Chameleons

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           During the 1970s in India, when Indira Gandhi was in absolute control of Indian government and politics, a coterie of unprincipled sycophants grew up around her.  Tellingly, one of these insider lapdogs (a Vice President) ascribed to her the powers of Mother India, and another one (then President of the Indian National Congress) made the famous pronouncement, Indira is India and India is Indira.  In this rarefied, polarized and centralized environment, the nation became a cesspool of unscrupulous and corrupt politicians.  Jockeying for political positions of advantage, or driven even by survival instincts, many politicians started to switch party affiliations more often, it would appear, than they changed their pants or dhotis.  One such fringe politician, Raj Narain, switched parties no fewer than four times in remarkably short order. 


            I recall distinctly how the shrewd Indian electorate viewed these political chameleons, and the utter contempt with which they were held.  The popular discourses came up with such classic words as chamchas for the sycophants (literally meaning a lickspittle who is spoon-fed official lies), and tarbuja (tormuj in Bengali) or watermelon for members of the Congress party (implying that these were green, or pro-Indian on the outside, but red, or Marxist-leaning on the inside).  In 1977, of course, Indira Gandhi was unseated by popular vote at the very height of her power by a largely illiterate electorate.  However, the art of the political switcheroo became entrenched in the largely corrupt and rudderless political system.


            The U.S., of course, has its share of political chameleons, and the ignominious tradition is rather alive and well to this day.  During the Southern Reconstruction and the re-alignments thereafter, many former Dixiecrats (with political leanings of hard-right Democrats, including virulent segregationists and racial supremacists) switched parties to become Republicans.  Most notable in this bunch was Strom Thurmond, who continued as one of the longest-serving U.S. Senators from South Carolina.


            Not all political re-alignments are necessarily negative, however.  Not long ago, Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched from Republican to Independent, thereby handing the Democrats a razor-thin majority.  Jeffords, along with Lincoln Chafee and a handful of others, represented a vanishing, moderate wing of the Republican party, who witnessed the dreadful right-wing takeover of that half of the American duopoly during the 1990s.  On the other hand, it is truly difficult to believe that an iconic Republican figure such as Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat.  His re-alignment was so complete that he famously said, while being wheeled into the ER after the Hinckley shooting event, (I paraphrase) “Tell me that they (the doctors attending to him) are all Republicans.”


            If American politics in the post-Reagan era has proven anything- it is the virtual indistinguishability of the two mainstream parties.  There is much talk here about the far-right, right, middle, left and far-left.  In reality, American politics is purely oligarchic- controlled and driven by the upper-crust corporate and business interests, with several unholy alliances such as disproportionately influential political lobbies, and of course the dreaded Military-Industrial-Complex (whose nefarious influence has only grown over the years, despite the early warnings from Eisenhower).    


            During the years of the Bushco mafia, the behavior, actions and, more significantly, inactions of the Democratic members of Congress left no doubt whatsoever in progressive and humanist minds that in essence both parties within the dysfunctional American duopoly were two sides of the same coin.  As lethal and genocidal as that experience has been, both within this country and without, Democratic betrayal and complicit inaction have been virtually as criminal as the immeasurable crimes of the vile Bushco gang. 


            The unimaginable audacity, duplicity and equal criminal partnership of the likes of Nancy Pelosi (whose infamous snub of the protesting riff-raff in front of her house in San Francisco has clearly established her upper-crust, power-hungry, stratified, inhuman credentials), Harry Reid (who has rarely found any administrative crime that would not merit down-playing or shoving under the rug), or Diane Feinstein, whose family has profited hugely from the criminal, mass-killing enterprise constituting the invasion, rape and pillage of Iraq- these realities have been absolutely heart-breaking and discouraging to people seeking justice and the restoration of civilization.


            The duopoly is so deeply marinated in ill-gotten PAC money, influence-peddling, and political expediency, that there does not appear to be the slightest likelihood in this country to bring about any real change that might be conducive to a true democracy.  All caring people that I come across agree that “the two-party system must go,” but there is simply no alternative in this Wall Street, General Dynamics culture.  We are probably witnessing the same downward spiral of uncontrolled imperial crimes and hubris that finally brought down the empires of the past.  However, in a world with advanced science and technology, perhaps the greatest fear is the unimaginably destructive wake of the dying groans of a sophisticated military empire.    


            The co-conspirators of the duopoly consistently come up with pathetic excuses for not pursuing justice or enforcing the laws of any decent society, including international laws.  These so-called lawmakers are truly some of the most egregious violators of law.  When it is expedient, they will prosecute a marital infidelity (an ever-present human flaw that exists in amazingly prolific quantities among these sanctimonious “lawmakers”) to the tune of an utterly laughable and contemptible impeachment charade.  However, crimes that amount to the magnitude of those that defined Nuremberg go entirely unpunished, uninvestigated, unaccounted for.  This is a frightfully upside-down enterprise indeed.  And in its perpetuation, much of the advanced Western world is deeply complicit.  Here is a partial list of these deceitful proclamations.


We do not have the numbers.  (the few instances of useful congressional investigations  started with very small numbers, incidentally)

We will be bogged down in investigations.  (may all law enforcement use that excuse, please?)

We wish to look forward, not backward.  (this infamous Obama paean to the maintenance of the corrupt status-quo is pathetically disingenuous)

They will filibuster.  (here is a convenient tool for the congressional clown-show to do nothing)

We have other priorities.  (in what Universe are the inhuman war crimes of a rogue government a lesser priority in order for justice and humanity to prevail?)


            I have listed some of the above to highlight the true meaning of Senator Arlen Specter’s switching over to the Democratic party.  Honestly, it does not elicit the slightest thrill in my heart.  It is somewhat comparable to the sudden political switch to Independent by that pathetic, back-stabbing and malevolent political clown, Joe Lieberman during his last re-election campaign in Connecticut.  This heartless goon has stabbed Democrats in the back deeper than perhaps the worst Right wingnuts.  His Zell-Miller-esque performance at the Republican convention made him an instant quisling Hall-of-Famer.  Yet, the great lesson garnered from this sad political spectacle is that such unprincipled political shenanigans actually work to the advantage of the PAC-money-fed androids.   

            Many claim that Specter is a moderate.  Many explain that his moderate leanings are indeed behind his breaking from the right-wing pack.  Many rejoice at the prospect of the Democrats’ likely filibuster-proof majority.  However, at bottom, this is all nothing more than the usual kool-aid for this nation’s hapless spectators.  Moderates such as Specter have done untold harm to the well-being of this country.  Moderate is quite often a euphemism for lack of courage to do the right thing.  I will never forget (or forgive) Arlen Specter’s active role in the confirmation of one of the sleaziest members of the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas.  In the vast number of cases, these political goons care the least about such things as the rule of law, the Constitution, the right thing to do, or the impact of cooperating with the dishonorable for political expediency.  The results of that flawed appointment are now well known.  The criminal appointment of Bushco through judicial fiat, with the infamous 5-4 vote in 2000 (this included the Scalia-Thomas duo)- well, in the long run, this has bankrupted this nation, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings, destroyed the earth’s environment, shredded the Constitution, and destroyed millions of lives around the world.  With the sleazy grandstanding of moderates like Specter, honestly, who needs extremists? 

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Monish R. Chatterjee received the B.Tech. (Hons) degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from I.I.T., Kharagpur, India, in 1979, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Iowa, Iowa (more...)
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