I will let Sen. Specter's statement start us off:
"Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
And there it is. What I've been saying for the past two years, in essence. The GOP has moved extremely far to the right. Taking hard-line stands on social issues such as banning gay marriage, abortion, all manner of drugs, safe sex education and countless others while, at the same time, closely aligning itself with ultra-conservative, evangelical Christianity has created a party that cares very little for any sort of compromise.
Honestly, there is nothing in current Republican rhetoric that gives a damn about anyone who raises any sort of objection. Meanwhile, moderates like me have been labeled "liberal" even though we see our ideas as centrist compromises. We moderates seeks to find ways that we can all live and let live and we know that means that we all have to give - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
I've tried reasoning this out with Republican friends and family members, but the conversation nearly always ends with "Well, I think [flashpoint issue] is terrible and no one should be allowed to do it and I will vote to make sure that's the case." Great.
Around election time, I got really upset about this. Imagine telling one of your family members or close friends - someone who you are supposed to care about - that, essentially, you don't care if they're happy with their lives.
That, friends, is the current Republican method. And when someone defects, like Specter, the DrudgeFox machine goes into high gear to try and destroy the "traitor" against the party.
Well, now... it looks like the joke is on them. We're now seeing the GOP isn't some silent majority (last fall's elections proved that). We're seeing them as a small isolated group of far-right idealists, as crazy as the ultra-liberal PETA protesters and equally unwilling to bring people to the table and do the hard work of trying to come up with plans that we can all live with.
That's not good at any time, but in this kind of tough economy, where we all could benefit from hashing out differences, the GOP has shown, through their unbending congressional "no" votes to their rhetoric, that they're not interested in that.
We moderates and Democrats may not have the silver-bullet solutions (as the GOP is always happy to remind us), but at least we know we live in a complicated world where we need things aren't as cut-and-dry as the Republicans want it to be.
And, really, at least it's still OK for Democrats to not vote along the party line. I bet Arlen Specter is thrilled to know he can now vote his mind and not get ripped on cable news for a week.