The Last Republican Moderate

Kudos to Olympia Snowe — one of two remaining moderates in the Republican Party — for putting the blame for Arlen Specter’s party switch where it belongs:

It is disheartening and disconcerting, at the very least, that here we are today — almost exactly eight years after Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party — witnessing the departure of my good friend and fellow moderate Republican, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, for the Democratic Party. And the announcement of his switch was all the more painful because I believe it didn’t have to be this way.


It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of “Survivor” — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.

Senator Specter indicated that his decision was based on the political situation in Pennsylvania, where he faced a tough primary battle. In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide.

I have said that, without question, we cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates.

In that same vein, I am reminded of a briefing by a prominent Republican pollster after the 2004 election. He was asked what voter groups Republicans might be able to win over. He responded: women in general, married women with children, Hispanics, the middle class in general, and independents.

How well have we done as a party with these groups? Unfortunately, the answer is obvious from the results of the last two elections. We should be reaching out to these segments of our population — not de facto ceding them to the opposing party.

There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.

Judging by the reaction in right-wing circles to Sen. Specter’s move, not only is the GOP not listening — they are drawing the circle of wagons in even tighter.

All links via Memeorandum.

5 Responses to “The Last Republican Moderate”

  1. Boyd says:

    Moderate looks to me to be in the eye of the beholder. While Olympia Snowe is in the broad sense moderate she is by no means a moderate Republican or the only Republican that is moderate. National Jounal’s rankings show her as by far the single most Liberal Senator who indentifies Republican. And there are plenty of Republicans besides Collins who trend moderate such as Lugar, Voinovich and (interestingly enough) Norm Coleman.

  2. Boyd says:

    and … it’s a little hard to take seriously lectures on the wonders of moderation from those rubbing their hands at the opportunity of installing that posterboy of anti-moderation Al Franken.

  3. Booogie-Mann says:

    Democrats can hardly talk about moderates. Show me a single moderate in the DNC Leadership?? Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Kennedy, Durbin, Frank, Schumer?? All senior Democrats, all huge Lefties …….

  4. Kathy says:

    Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Kennedy, Durbin, Frank, Schumer?? All senior Democrats, all huge Lefties …….

    B-M, you are clinically insane.

  5. Booogie-Mann says:

    What do those listed represent that is either Moderate or Conservative?? Yes, this new direction is insane.

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