Tip of the Iceberg
You want to know how the defection of Arlen Specter is being greeted by Republicans, just ask Kathryn Jean Lopez over at the National Review Online? This morning she wrote “[Specter’s leaving the GOP] is a great opportunity for real grounded leaders who know who they are.” She goes on to say, “Put another way, we need more partisanship, not less. We need real idea battles from people who have gotten their hands dirty being conservatives in real life.”
It’s as if someone were turning up the thermostat under the GOP tent and, as people succumb to the heat, those remaining chuckle to themselves about the other’s weakness; convincing themselves they are “stronger” for withstanding the inferno. Even as they self-immolate.
With the assistance of movement Republicans like Lopez, Democrats would be wise to continue thinking pragmatically about party identification and continue enticing Moderates away from the GOP. This does not mean the Democrats need to water down their platform to accommodate latecomers. Moderates will not run away from the common sense approach Democrats have taken towards social issues, economic issues, or foreign affairs. On many of these issues Moderates already agree with Democrats.
But if Democrats want to facilitate an exodus, they must be willing to recognize that these men and women have vested interests in remaining Republicans. Jobs, relationships, and years of futile effort trying to change the party are all tied into their party identification. Switching parties is no easy task, trust me. But it can be done if Democrats are willing to allay the fears these men and women. Promise them a job and a home where they will be respected and Moderates will come calling.
If Democrats play their cards right, Specter is just the tip of the iceberg.