Posted by Adam Graham on April 29, 2009
I take second place to no one on independence voting. But, it is my view that the organizational vote belongs to the party which supported the election of a particular Senator. I believe that is the expectation. And certainly it has been a very abrupt party change, although they have occurred in the past with only minor ripples, none have caused the major dislocation which this one has.
When I first ran in 1980, Congressman Bud Shuster sponsored a fundraiser for me in Altoona where Congressman Jack Kemp was the principal speaker. When some questions were raised as to my political philosophy, Congressman Shuster said my most important vote would be the organizational vote. From that day to this, I have believed that the organizational vote belonged to the party which supported my election.
When the Democrats urged me to switch parties some time ago, I gave them a flat “no.” I have been asked in the last several days if I intended to switch parties. I have said absolutely not.
Senator PHIL GRAMM faced this issue when he decided to switch parties. He resigned his seat, which he had won as a Democrat, and ran for reelection as a Republican. As he told me, his last vote in January 1983 was for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and he voted for Tip O’Neill with the view that he was elected as a Democrat and should vote that way on organizational control. Even though, he intended to become a Republican and would have preferred another person to be Speaker.
To repeat, I intend to propose a Senate rule which would preclude a change in control of the Senate when a Senator decides to vote with the opposing party for organizational purposes.
One other aspect does deserve comment, and that is the issue of personal benefit to a changing Senator. In our society, political arrangements avoid the consequences of similar conduct in other contexts.-Senator Arlen Specter in 2001
My first reaction to the departure of Arlen Specter was, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” and my feeling remains the same. Specter’s career ACU rating was 45%. That means that 55% of the time he voted against the conservative position. I’ll buy the premise that someone who votes with 80% of the time is our friend. Some who votes with us 45% is not.
Specter’s decision to switch parties once again makes a fool of President Bush and Senator Santorum for all their efforts to save Specter. Specter looks like a hypocrite because of his stance in 2001. He knows his seat properly belongs to the Pennsylvania GOP, but acts like its his own personal fiefdom.
Of course, I know one of my front page colleagues has shouted (and I paraphrase), “You freaking idiots! Specter won a Primary 30 years ago! That should be it. Once he’s in, to hell with choosing your Representatives, Specter should be the GOP nominee for life. You don’t have a say anymore and if you challenge an incumbent, you’re an idiot.”
Or perhaps, I take him out of context. I believe that power flows from the governed and I don’t believe an aristocracy of continual re-nomiantion for someone who betrays time and time again the principles for which members of the political party stand.
In his leaving statement, Specter said he was elected as part of Ronald Reagan’s big tent. Of course, the big tent phrase and philisophy was advanced by post-Reagan GOP Boss Lee Atwater. Reagan did however address a situation like Specter’s in 1975:
A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.
I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.
I guess all we can say to Arlen Specter is thanks for listening.