2010 Likely to Cement One Party Rule for Three Years and If Populist Economics Results – for a Generation
Senator Specter is following the voters. ABC News reported this week that only 21% of voters consider themselves Republicans. The Republican Party has shrunk to only the true believers in their extreme conservative ideology.
In Pennsylvania 150,000 to 200,000 voters left the Republican Party in the last year. Senator Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party was based on the reality that the Republican Party has become more conservative, indeed right wing. Senator Specter could not operate in what is left of the party.
The 2010 elections are likely to cement Democratic control over the senate, so the Specter switch gives them an extra year of one party rule. If they use their power for the people’s interests this could last for a generation, if not, it ends in 2012.
One concern for the Dems is they no longer have the “Republican excuse.” The Dems can no longer say that the Republican filibuster is stopping their agenda from moving forward. Now, they will have to blame some of the conservative members of their own party. This is not as clear a message and does not allow them to say – “elect more Democrats.”
The liberal base of the Democrats will expect more from a party that controls both Houses of Congress, i.e. end the Iraq war more quickly, stop the escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, cut the military budget, act more aggressively on climate change, put in place single payer health care not a subsidize the insurance companies health plan, stop funding Wall Street and start funding Main Street. And, if that agenda does not move forward – it is no longer the fault of the Republicans.
Specter was always a moderate Republican, but when push came to shove he did what the party wanted. In order to strengthen his re-election, Specter needs to have Democratic support, especially the support of labor. While Specter said his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act has not changed, he still has important wiggle room. When that legislation comes up for a cloture vote, he can vote to end cloture and allow a majority vote. The Democrats should be able to achieve majority support for Card Check. If they do, it will help labor unions grow and further strengthen Democratic majorities. Specter’s switch may just be another step in ushering in an era of Democratic Party dominance.