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Posted by on Apr 28, 2009 in Politics | 4 comments

A Little Specter Of History

In reporting the decision of Senator Specter to the Democratic party most of the articles touch on the fact that he has been a member of the Senate for 29 years. In reflecting on his remarks about the increasingly narrow base of the Republican party it might be worth our time to take a look back at the origins of his career.

He was first elected to the US Senate in 1980, the year of the Ronald Reagan landslide. That sweeping victory brought the Republicans to control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years. But just what was that Senate Republican Caucus like ?

Well looking to New England we find that out of 12 US Senators in the region, 6 of them were Republicans. People like John Chaffee of Rhode Island, Robert Stafford of Vermont, William Cohen of Maine and Lowell Weicker of Connecticut were right in line with Specter, solid Republican moderates. The only state without a Republican Senator was Massachusetts and they had elected a liberal named Edward Brooke up until 1978.

During the same period we had moderates like Mathais of Maryland, Hatfield of Oregon, Heinz of Pennsylvania, Percy of Illinois, Durenburger of Minnesota and Roth of Delaware. The same diversity was true in the House, with a large and influential moderate delegation of ‘Gypsy Moth’ Republicans.

At the same time, the early signs of the modern purity tests were starting to surface. In New Jersey a popular moderate Republican named Clifford Case had won four terms in the Senate but he was not pure enough for the right so they bet him in the 1978 primary. The result was Senator Bill Bradley (D).  Since that time we have not seen any Republican Senators win elections in New Jersey.

As I indicated in a previous post, I do understand the desire of people in both parties to have candidates who match their own views. But winning an election with a 60% match is better than losing it with a perfect one.

By the way when it came to conservative icon Ronald Reagan….. he campaigned for and supported every single person on the list, because he recognized the need for a broad based GOP.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • superdestroyer

    If the U.S. had the same percentage of white voters in 2008 that it had in 1980, more than likely Specter would not be changing parties. However, the Republicans are being buried under a demographic avalanche. The number of people in the U.S. who are open to the idea of a conservative government is now well below 50%.

    The real quesiton is what happens to a country when most people begin to believe that they can vote themselves unlimited goodies from the government?

  • Janjanjan

    SD, I think the real issue here is definitions. Most people I know think they are conservative. They support the values they think have been so important to America’s success. They want strong families. They are plenty fond of financial success–they just want a chance at it for themselves. The trouble is that these conservative values assume that there is an even playing field. Without good education, access to affordable health care, and a safety net, they can’t have what they value. So, they don’t perceive that the choices are conservative government as embodied by the Republican agenda vs radical liberalism from Obama. They perceive that the choices are between a party which seems to think their needs are unimportant and a president who seems to “get it.”

  • superdestroyer


    The question is then what part of the new massive energy, health, transportation, and financial regulations are the part that help the middle class. In the end, they will cause no only taxes to go up but costs to go up.

    I find it odd that people believe that the Obama Administration cares about them at the same times that the Obama Administration is in front of the Supreme Court arguing that race should be a more important factor in employment that ability or merit.

  • kritt11

    SD- You might have a valid point if non-white voters— Hispanics had not voted in large numbers for Bush in 2000- handing him the presidency.

    Also, large numbers of white Republicans switched over before the last election out of disgust for GOP policies.

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