As a native Philadelphian, (okay, Lower Bucks County to be honest, but the birth certificate read Philadelphia), I have been familiar with Arlen Spector going back to the Kennedy Assassination. Knowing Philadelphia Democratic Party machine politics going back to Tate and Rizzo, I also have no illusions about a profound leap here in the character of the party that he is joining. There is no talking about Arlen Spector's change in party affiliation without thinking of the old adage of jumping "out of the frying pan and into the fire".
Urban Philadelphia has never been a good base for Republican politicians. Neither does it stand as a model for good government. Arlen just compared his own situation with Joe Lieberman in a press conference and this does appear to have some truth in it. Over the last twenty years there has been little to encourage confidence in the Democratic Party.
I have no real ax to grind with Senator Spector. The issue at hand is do we get single payer health care as a result of his defection? I doubt it. Do we get a massive transition plan nationally to local renewable energy sources? I doubt it. Do we improve ballot access in Pennsylvania as a result? Don't let yourself turn blue holding your breath on that.
I don't see the issue of being a "moderate" is as significant as being unwilling to confront the fundamental policy issues to address climate change, or the recession, or workers' rights or ....and the list goes on. He may vote "the way I see it", as he describes it in the press conference, but this nation still lacks the basic priorities to bring all the troops home and remains paralyzed in re-defining our priorities as a nation.
The corporate hegemony reaches beyond the outbreak of the swine flu in its impact. It goes beyond the marginalization of the slums of North Philadelphia. It goes beyond the dismantlement of the social safety net for our families and our fellow-Americans. It goes beyond the dismantlement of our public education system.
Why am I a Green? Why can't I just get behind the Democratic Party and hop on board. Maybe because what is going to happen now is just a restoration of the damage done over the last thirty years and not a reconstruction of something that holds more promise for people. Senator Spector is in Congress, and for all too many years, we have seen Congress turn a blind eye to the financial manipulations and corruption. Congress contributed to the Enron energy scam in California. Congress shut their eyes to the increasing gap in personal incomes between the rich and the increasingly impoverished middle class.
The work that needs to be done needs a new vision and a new agenda. It's all too much to expect from the Democratic Party.