A Dying Breed
The death of Sunday, October 14, of Arlen Specter marked the loss of what is becoming a rare political animal--the moderate Republican.
On such issues as abortion, affirmative action, and immigration, he broke ranks with his own party and in 2004 nearly paid the price when he had to fend off a challenge from his party's growing extreme right wing.
In 2009, Specter realized that his party no longer fit him. "As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right," he said in April, 2009, " I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party," he said in April, 2009. Obama had just taken office in January of 2009, and folks like Beck and Limbaugh, were helping to stir the pot of the likes of the Kochs and ALEC. A moderate like Specter would not be able to resonate with a party base that had made obstruction it's only real agenda. He decided to switch parties and run as a Democrat in 2010.
Of course, he found himself against Democratic party that had its activist base energized, and would lose the party primary to Joe Sestak.
Specter's decision to switch parties should have sent a message to the GOP that letting the Koch Brothers and ALEC, and voices like Beck and Limbaugh be the party's true leaders is not a prescription for success. You need a middle ground, a ground that Specter spent decades staking out, until he may have been too much of an island.