In a surprise announcement Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee has bolted the GOP for the Democrats.
Specter cited his belief that as a moderate he couldn’t survive an impending primary challenge in an increasingly conservative Republican Party.
Needless to say the Democrats, including President Obama, were delighted and immediately endorsed Specter in the next election.
I always sort of felt that Specter was a fish out of water or, perhaps more accurately, a Republican from a different era. While his defection makes sense, especially for him, the implication is disturbing. Specter is essentially conceding that the GOP is too far gone to salvage and is leaving it to the religious right wing.
This brings the Republican Party one step closer to a party of Religious Fascism. A party controlled by the likes of James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Sarah Palin. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s a little to close for comfort.
If the American center doesn’t recognize that the Republicans are flirting with being a party of the extreme right, there is the terrible risk of the election of a fascist majority that would make the Bush administration look progressive. If they do recognize it, there is the risk of the Republican Party becoming marginalized everywhere but in the deep South which would be almost as bad.
Personally I’d like to see the GOP return to its socially progressive but fiscally conservative roots but I’m not sure that’s possible any more.