Because I am a junky, I have been watching this “Arlen Spector Defects to the Democrats” thing. I think it’s interesting, not because I think he’ll ever vote differently than he has in the past, but because he stayed still politically but the goalposts of where the Republicans end and the Democrats begin moved.
Parties end. Parties die. The Whig party didn’t survive even though it had some pretty stalwart luminaries among its number — Daniel Webster, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln. When the Whigs ran up against the ugly wall of slavery, many of its leaders changed parties to Republican (ie, Lincoln) or dropped out of politics entirely. The Whig party became more and more insular until it dried up and died. And it happened quickly.
Sometimes I feel like the credit crisis is taking our modern GOP with it. As several core views have been repudiated — removing regulation of the markets, starving the Government while forcing unfunded mandates, trying to fuse religion with state issues, etc. — the inner core has become more insular and less interested in reality. It feels like the GOP was heavily in debt and over-leveraged in all their policy-based investments and they, too, have discovered that too much debt is not, at the end of the day, a good thing and all their risk models were wrong. But the old model worked in the past, so much like the banks, they are clinging to them for all their worth and not realizing that they are totally insolvent. “Cut taxes!” doesn’t do you any good when people aren’t working and not paying taxes. Cut what taxes?
It becomes this inward deflationary political cycle. People flee and they join this weird new faction called the “Conservative Democrat” or cling to their Independent registrations. Primaries in most States are closed so the GOP is forced to put up crazier and crazier candidates to get that hard right cranky white guy core to vote just so the candidate can get trounced by those new Is and Conservative Ds in the general. I can’t see this getting better. Only 20% of registered voters now identify as a Republican. I’m pretty sure they all live in Utah.
The GOP is trotting out a “rebranding” effort. I want to shake them and scream, “It’s not about branding.”
This sort of brings it around to Arlen Spector who was, no doubt, told by the GOP kneebreakers to get in line or leave. He took a good hard look at this totally wackjob Club for Growth guy and the GOP kneebreakers and the slow dissolution of his Party and he did what the Whigs did in 1856-1860 — took a good, hard look at what was going on and said, “Nah, that’s okay. You can keep your wackjob, GOP. I’m good. Thanks.”