I’ve had 24 hours to think about this Arlen Specter thing. I watched the pundits and did a lot of reading. I have some thoughts.
First, just because he’s a Democrat, it does not mean he’s going to go along with everything the Democrats do. Yes, there are now 59 Democratic votes in the Senate. If Al Franken ever gets seated, it’ll be 60, the magic filibuster proof number. However, just because you have 60 voters does not mean you have 60 votes.
Second, my optimistic nature hopes that this move helps pass the changes we voted for when we elected President Obama. Bipartisanship now rests on the backs of the Republicans. They can have bipartisanship if they want it. Otherwise, get out of the way. Let’s get health care for all and a new energy policy. Let’s insist on aggressive, sweeping changes. None of this watered down stuff that appeases big energy, big insurance, or Republicans. Judging from Mr. Specter’s moderate conservative credentials, the jury is out on whether or not he can be completely relied upon to come through.
This brings me to my third and final point. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how Mr. Specter personally falls on an issue. He, like all elected officials, works for his constituents. If we make the calls, write the letters, and let our people in Washington know that we want these sweeping, aggressive changes, then we will get them. Don’t assume that because the majority of people agree with change that the majority of people will say anything about it. When people agree, they feel like there’s no need to say anything because everybody agrees. What ends up happening is the people who disagree become louder and take over the conversation. If you believe in these issues as I do, then you will do something about it when the time comes.
I appreciate Mr. Specter’s willingness to do the right thing, like voting in favor of the stimulus. I hope he works with his new caucus to make this country more prosperous. Therefore, I welcome Mr. Specter to the Democratic party. I will be watching with great anticipation that he will do the right thing.