It would be very easy to fall into a depression over Arlen Specter switching political parties, giving Democrats a likely filibuster-proof Senate majority. The result will be that Obama will be able to push through much of his agenda without meaningful debate.
Not that I will miss Specter personally. Specter has become a caricature of the self-interested politician who hides his need for fame behind lofty talk of principles. More than anything, I feel sorry for Specter at a personal level, because we are watching someone going through his last hurrah. And the fact that he sold out the principles he spoke about just weeks ago regarding preserving the two-party system, demonstrates how pathetic Specter has become in his quest for a legacy. Unfortunately for Specter, his legacy will not be what he thinks it will be.
It would be easy to be depressed, until you read this snippet from history, as reported by the Politico:
The last time either party had such a wide Senate margin was during the first two years of Jimmy Carter’s term in 1977-1978, when Democrats under then-Majority Leader Robert Byrd held 61 seats.
What history shows us is that a liberal, blame-America-first Democratic President, urged on by a liberal, blame-America-first Democratic Congress, is a prescription for political self-destruction. Leave Democrats to their own devices, and they will screw themselves politically, just when they are at the height of power.
We already see this phenomenon in action:
- As to national security, Congressional Democrats are pushing for hearings and prosecutions of the authors of memos interpreting the federal anti-torture statute. These hearings will cause enormous damage to the country, reminiscent of the damage caused to intelligence agencies by the Church commission in the 1970s. We don’t know when the risks to which we are exposed turn into an attack, but it will happen because, as the 9/11 commission noted, al–Qaeda is at war with us, regardless of whether we are at war with it.
- As to foreign affairs, China, Venezuela and Iran will rise in power and influence as Democrats fulfill their dream of returning the United States to its isolationist roots. The result will be that hundreds of millions of people who yearn to live in free societies will have to defer that hope for another generation or two.
- As to the national debt, in a year or two the nation will wake up to the fact that Democrats have mortgaged our future to the hilt, beyond what anyone could have comprehended a year ago. When the younger generations, currently smitten with the cool President, realize that they will pay this bill, there will be a backlash. And when they see mortgage rates and inflation put the good life out of their reach, the younger generation will embrace Reaganism as the cure for the Democratic disease.
- As to human rights, in the quest for revenge against the Bush administration under the guise of obtaining justice for three high-level al–Qaeda operatives who were waterboarded, we will ensure that al–Qaeda lives on to spread true torture throughout the world. The human rights and Democratic interest groups who are silent when al–Qaeda uses teenagers or pregnant women to blow up other teenagers and pregnant women are relegating tens of thousands of people to al–Qaeda terror, without so much as a second thought. For that, we will not earn the friendship the Democrats desire, but an ignoble page in history, along with Neville Chamberlain.
- As to government control of private industry, government control will see the final death of the American automobile industry. Those who fret that the federal government is converting its loans to voting equity on a preferential basis are missing the big picture. Government running the auto industry will be the end of the auto industry.
- As to health care, Americans will realize that nationalized health care will be no more successful than in Canada or Britain. Americans who are upset by waiting a couple of hours in a doctor’s office will go berserk over waiting weeks or months for surgical procedures. And that fury will be more pronounced than in Canada or Britain, because we will have no traditional American health care system to fall back on.
- As to freedom of speech, the continued and obsessive use of the race card by Democrats and Hollywood elites will cause a simmering resentment which will boil over into retribution in the voting booth. The use of false accusations of racism as a political weapon to silence debate is the least understood, and by far the most corrosive, result of the 2008 election cycle.
So I’m not depressed about the long-term future of the country, although the next few years will be tough politically. The Democrats will screw up big time, as they did during the Carter years, and the damage they cause will be generational. But the clean-up is worth looking forward to, even if the mess is not.
UPDATE: The Politico reports on the details of Specter’s poll-driven decision. It is not pretty, and leaves Specter with a legacy of being one of the most straight-faced liars politics has ever seen — and that is saying a lot. While Specter preached about principles and how the Republican party had left him, in fact Specter consulted pollsters to the last minute in a calculated effort to determine whether he could win re-election as a Democrat.
Even Specter’s position on card-check (the legislation to deprive employees of a secret ballot) was driven by his hope of re-nomination by the Republican Party. Only when that effort failed did Specter decide:
Specter came to McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Monday afternoon and told him he was considering becoming a Democrat and that he had a very good reason to make the move: His internal polls made it clear he was unlikely to win a GOP primary next year. Further, Specter told McConnell on Monday, and again when he shared his decision with the leader in private Tuesday, there were not enough moderate voters in Pennsylvania to survive as an independent.
So, to win, he had to jump….
Specter thought coming out against the Employee Free Choice Act — organized labor’s signature legislation — may appease his home-state Republicans. He dealt what was thought at the time to be a deathblow to the measure on March 24. But after going home for spring recess earlier this month, he found out that it had won him little goodwill with Republicans and only aggravated relations with some of the union-friendly Democrats whose support he had been counting on to win in November.
A legacy of going back on your word and lying to the public; nice work.
UPDATE No. 2: I’ll respond to the many comments in this update, in random order:
- I don’t see a necessity of a “permanent majority.” I think Democrats will try to obtain such a majority through illegal immigrant amnesty and give aways, but that will be concentrated in states the Democrats already win easily. It doesn’t matter if the Democrats win California by a million votes or several million votes.
- I do have a concern about Democrats engaging in chicanery to win elections, but that already happens. ACORN and others are about as pervasive as can be achieved, and again, mostly effective in states Democrats win anyway, with the exception of Ohio. So Republicans should focus their efforts on preventing fraud in several key states, and not worry about Democratic voter fraud in states like California.
- Tax revenues will fall short, way short, and Obama will have to increase income taxes on people way below the 250k threshold. This will result naturally from the declining economy and from people deciding to take the weekend off rather than earn extra income to be taxed at high marginal rates (and other associated taxes, such as FICA, and loss of deductions). The electoral effect of raising taxes on the “middle class” will be the same as G.H.W. Bush’s “read my lips.”
- Yes, Republicans screwed up themselves. G.W. Bush was great on national security and taxes, but horrible on spending. And he was non-existent in defending his policies almost his entire second term, allowing MoveOn and Media Matters to define him.
- I’m not worried about academia. Can it get ANY worse than it now is? To the contrary, I believe that conservative academics are the next big wave (no, really, I mean it).
- The mainstream media is so corrupt that it presents a huge challenge, but the internet and alternatives are gaining ground. The major networks could get away with rigging their coverage because of Obama’s “historic” candidacy, but that excuse is over.
- It will be hard to unring many of the bells, but not impossible. What choice is there, really, but to try?
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