“How should these issues be handled by the Senate for the future? I intend to propose a rule change which would preclude a future recurrence of a Senator’s change in parties, in midsession, organizing with the opposition, to cause the upheaval which is now resulting.

I take second place to no one on independence voting. But, it is my view that the organizational vote belongs to the party which supported the election of a particular Senator. I believe that is the expectation. And certainly it has been a very abrupt party change, although they have occurred in the past with only minor ripples, none have caused the major dislocation which this one has.”

- Senator Arlen Specter on Jim Jeffords switching parties in 2001

Read the full acount here: National Review

You can also read Senator Specter’s full statement about his idiotic decision today here.

The most angering part of Specter’s “reasoning” for this decision is how he turns the historic urge of Americans to transcend parties on its head. Washington and Adams particularly loathed the idea of a party system. Adams criticized Jefferson for his presumably sordid involvement with what eventually became the original Republican party (not to be confused with the current one). Specter tries to seat himself at the same table:

“While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation.”

If this is true, why switch parties at all? Specter can simply continue to vote his mind – as he says he has done all along. What’s the significance of the switch? The answer is twofold:

1. Specter’s clout is considerably reduced as a a member of the minority party. I’m sure he’s been promised a plum job running some committee or other by the Democrats. So, he gives them a fillibuster proof majority and he gets to be part of the leadership. More importantly, he gets to run in the next election as a Democrat with the full support of their party, which brings us to…

2. Specter can’t win in the Republican primary. Just like Lieberman when he made the same revolting decision, Specter could care less about conviction, principle, voters, or anything else. He knows he will have a strong challenge if he runs as a Republican. Switching parties affords him the full power of incumbency without the pesky risk of an enraged electorate who gave him his illustrious twenty nine year career in the first place. Instead, he’s welcomed with open arms by a party who will view him as the ticket to a continued fillibuster proof majority. Like the gold digger at the bar looking for the guy with the biggest bank account, he’s just a political opportunist looking for job security.

Power and incumbency; these are the only true convictions driving Senator Specter. He’s a rat running from what he thinks is a sinking ship. We’ll see how that prophecy bears out in the coming years.