Skip to comments.Specter's Snowball Effect
Posted on 02/21/2010 9:10:28 AM PST by Kaslin
WASHINGTON It is probably fair to say that U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, D-Pa., started it all. He perceived, long before anyone else, that this will not be the year of the incumbent.
Armed with campaign battle scars, a cantankerous personality and fairly long-in-the-tooth seniority (even by Senate standards), Specter has come to symbolize the end of the incumbent.
A CNN poll last week showed that only one-third of U.S. voters (a record-low number) think their members of Congress deserve to go back next year.
When Specter switched parties last spring, he was brutally honest why: He didn't want to go down in a closed Republican primary. When colleague Evan Bayh, D-Ind., announced last week that he will not run again, he was equally brutal: Hes sick of Washington and Congress.
After a summer of discontent marked by Tea Parties, angry town-hall meetings and plummeting polls, a domino-line of incumbent retirements has hit both chambers and parties.
Democrats have absorbed the heaviest blows. Bayhs decision followed similar retirement announcements of Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. The decision by Beau Biden, Delawares attorney general and an Iraq War veteran, not to run for his vice-presidential fathers old U.S. Senate seat is considered by many to be equivalent to an incumbent loss.
Those are guys who got out while the getting was good. Some notables, such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who trails in the polls, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., have not retired but perhaps should.
The saucer that cools public passions, as the Senate is often described, has grown bitterly cold for many of its incumbents.
Of course, party activists are furious with Bayh or Connecticuts Independent Democrat, Joe Lieberman, and they are increasingly dismayed with Obama for not fighting the good fight, in their eyes.
Lieberman is a matter of convenience, said Purdue University political scientist Bert Rockman. Most Democrats dont like him at all, and his whole strategy is to win Republican and independent votes in 2012.
Many of the Dem activists, Rockman explained, see their Senate leadership and their president as a bunch of wusses but they dont carry the same weight within their party as their Republican counterparts do on the opposing side.
Arlen Specter didnt get along with his Senate colleagues when he was a Republican, and he probably wont do any better as a Democrat. He isnt the future of the Democratic Party but his May primary opponent, the relentless U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, is.
Sestak is positioning himself effectively to the left of Specter (although once Specter realized he was in for a more vigorous primary race than originally expected, he moved steadily leftward just as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has moved rightward in his primary battle against former congressman J.D. Hayworth).
American politics has become dysfunctional: The parties have moved much farther to the right or to the left than the average voter wants or expects. Ironically, elections that throw the bums out indiscriminately tend to throw out moderates because they are most vulnerable, inasmuch as they tend to come from marginal districts.
So the irony is that an anti-incumbent election is apt to radicalize the parties even more, Rockman explains. That will take us farther from solving problems (rather) than closer.
Specter demonstrated the ultimate in opportunism with his party switch. Opportunism is always a gamble, and it now looks as if he's rolled craps. Or, to use a poker analogy, his anticipated ace in the hole, President Obama (who pledged his support to the senator's re-election), has turned out to be a Joker card instead.
Voters in general will always be suspicious of a party-switcher. That suspicion, while not inescapable, can fade if the switcher persuasively makes a case that he or she did so out of conviction, not just to hang onto public office.
People just don't warm to people who look as if they are taking advantage.
Right now, they also are cooling to incumbents who, right or wrong, have become symbols of this year of widespread voter discontent.
You thought you would be treated like a high price call girl, but you've ended up lower than a five dollar crack whore.
It could be worse. You could be Arlen Specter.
Oh, wait. You are Arlen Specter. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Sweep ALL out or let them ALL resign and go back to their families. They only understand power. Its time to flex OUR muscle. The soap box doesnt work. They control all of the amplification devices. Its time for the ballot box. Its peaceful. Its powerful.
Specter should have been gone a long time ago........
Term limits would guarantee *citizen* representation.
No nepotism or family dynasties.
No retirement benefits.
Elected officials make an appropriate salary to pay for their own housing, food, travel and medical care.
Former military are exempt from some restrictions.
Give them a dose of reality and a reminder of our Founders’ principles.
I’d say no exemptions from the laws they make, but that sorta falls under no perks.
Exactly..take out the perks...take out the elites.
And no Party switching!
Scumsucking slimeball pretty much sums up Sphincter and his whole career.
The Republican Party is not in danger of being dominated by the far Right. Most Republican Party politicians are to the left of their constituency, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the truly right wing kooks will never hold much political power.
Within the Democrat Party, a much different dynamic holds true. The professional politicians are more radically left every year and, more importantly, the leadership of the Democrat Party are not traditional Democrats at all: they are hard core Leftists who should be labeled Progressives, Socialists, or Marxists. This trend shows no signs of slowing or reversing itself. Any traditional Democrat who manages to get elected must support the hard core left wing of their party and either becomes one of them or eventually loses election. America is not ready to have the Obamas, Reids, and Pelosis run the country, yet the Democrats will continue to give political power to them and those of their ilk.
Keep in mind the elected officials in Congress have to pay for their homes/apartments in the Washington, DC, and to maintain their homes in their districts! That’s two homes they have to keep up!
Suggest they authorize a construction of the apartment complex for the House and Senate Members. Each the same size regardless of position. They could live in it without cost. That would save a little money for the taxpayer as we then don’t have to pay a salary to support two homes. The rest still applies—no perks!
This also makes it easier for the citizens when we put in and enforce Term Limits. This would force a more frequent turnovers to allow citizen legislators!
Absolutely agree to no party switching during your term. If someone wants to switch parties, they need to run on the new party’s ticket.
Security problem—too easy a target for Cessnas.
“Sestak is positioning himself effectively to the left of Specter (although once Specter realized he was in for a more vigorous primary race than originally expected, he moved steadily leftward just as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has moved rightward in his primary battle against former congressman J.D. Hayworth). “
Which shows that they are not honoring the party that they represent, they are honoring their own necks.
Au contraire, Mr. Rockman.
The only way to achieve political amity in the country is to squash today's Democrat party like a bug.
Only after an uncorrupted, new non-socialist party arises from the Democrat ashes can we hope to see real unity in the nation. <> Ours is a two-party system. We need two healthy parties. But we don't need a party which is intent on the destruction of the most successful country in history.
Castro convertible beds in their offices then;)
Or....they sleep in the Union Station Metro between commutes to & fro their constituents.
>> Specter should have been gone a long time ago <<
And not just on partisan political grounds:
Among his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, not to mention their staff personnel, Specter is thoroughly disliked for his vindictive and unpleasant personal character.
(Moreover, now that Ted Stevens is gone, Arlen’s only competition in the “most disliked” category is the lovely and charming Miss Babs Mikulski!)
Like so many others of his ilk,
Arlen Specter deserves to be stoned in the public square.
I'd spring for a dormitory.
****squash today’s Democrat party like a bug***
The FLEA Party!!!
“Give them a dose of reality and a reminder of our Founders principles.”
Our founders wanted one Representative for anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 people. That’s the way the House should be. If a person is doing a FANTASTIC job, why should they be term limited?
Of course, if the House were to be “recreated” in a way that follows the Constitution, you would have to reduce pay, etc. Still, with substantially smaller districts, you would have a lot more candidates running as a campaign wouldn’t cost an obscene amount of money. You’d also have a lot of turnover as I’m quite sure those that would win that just don’t have the “fire in the belly” would quit in 2 to 4 years anyway.
Please understand that I’m not talking about expanding Government ... I’m talking about expanding representation for each citizen in the USA. I guess it is a matter of semantics, but I feel this is the best solution to solve a LOT of problems. It would most certainly end two party dominance in my opinion.
“The only way to achieve political amity in the country is to squash today’s Democrat party like a bug.”
That is very true. Our motto for this election should be this: “That which is not Constitutional must be sterilized.”
“....and there are no exceptions.”
“Suggest they authorize a construction of the apartment complex for the House and Senate Members”
Sounds good! Only thing I would be worried about though is terrorism. With all of our leaders and their families living and sharing the same complex, it would be a prime target.
Not always. Think Philly and the Black Panthers. May need our own night sticks this time...it's ok though, no one will get prosecuted.
***If a person is doing a FANTASTIC job, why should they be term limited?***
A fantastic job in the private sector leads to promotions.
Following that scenario - movement from City to County to State Rep to State Senate to State Gov. to Fed Rep. to Senate to POTUS. @ 4 years per position would result in a minimum of 32 years in the public service sector.
Now, if they would only VOTE that way, come November!
Hey, wait a minute . . ... is that you P.J. ??
“A fantastic job in the private sector leads to promotions.
Following that scenario - movement from City to County ...”
You forgot local town mayor or school board member at the beginning of your list ;-) .
This isn’t the private sector though. The US House wasn’t modeled after the private sector anyway. It was intended to be the voice of the “rabble rousers” in the country.
When it comes to the US House, it’s basically up to the people to decide who represents them. There are no qualifications, past experience, etc. required...much like Obama, only with far less power.
We are talking about what was supposed to be a Democratic madhouse. A substantially larger sample of the mood of the people would filter the more obscene picks out of the 5K to 10K Reps. we would have. More importantly any legislation that would be passed with a much larger sample of the public’s wishes has more chance to satisfy a heck of a lot more people. As an added bonus, getting a majority vote from a substantially larger body of people will be a heck of a lot more difficult.
Seriously, I cannot see how people are comfortable with a body of people the size of a large high school graduating class that creates legislation that is supposed to represent the wishes of 300M+ people!
***Seriously, I cannot see how people are comfortable with a body of people the size of a large high school graduating class that creates legislation that is supposed to represent the wishes of 300M+ people!***
Which speaks to the importance of States’ Rights.
State Governors need to re-assert themselves and perhaps the disaster that is our Federal Government may bring it about.
Spector will probably never figure this out, but all he really had to do was what McCain is now doing and give the Republicans a few key votes. (although it probably won’t work for McCain, due to being in AZ, and having a lot more baggage as a Republican). The idea of going to the other side and expecting help from those guys was nuts.
“Which speaks to the importance of States Rights.
State Governors need to re-assert themselves and perhaps the disaster that is our Federal Government may bring it about.”
Yep. The problem is that when a state elects a moron for a governor, they typically view themselves as an extension of the federal government. That gives them someone to blame in the event of failure, and someone to go crawling towards begging for handouts when they foul up their state’s economy. I’m in total agreement with State’s Rights. However, I’m still focusing on the size of the US House (what this has to do with the original article is beyond me, sorry :-) ).
Again, I have to emphasize that I am talking about an expansion of representation, not an expansion of government in the entitlement sense. Moreover, I don’t expect a House of 5K or 10K members to have these extravagant salaries and retirement benefits ... that would have to change.
Even the location of the House may have to change ... you could keep part of it in DC, but the “physical” House itself would have to be split into, say, 6 or 8 buildings in various cities across the country in an effort to minimize travel expenses, etc. With our modern communications infrastructure, it is no problem at all to link these places together.
Just some thoughts ... I never see this idea discussed, so I suspect I am on the fringe or flat out wrong about something. I just have this gut feeling that the small size of the House is the top problem with OUR Federal Government. The Federal Government has been getting worse and worse in terms of size and control of our lives since the Civil War.
Also, think about the wealth out there ... buying off a majority of 435 people isn’t really that hard anymore! Buying off a majority of 5K to 10K Reps. would be a heck of a lot more difficult and much harder to keep a secret :-)! As the population of the USA grows, so does the House ... therefore, anyone thinking that corruption is a solution to their problems will be shooting at a moving target that changes substantially every 10 years.
Better yet -- let the congress critters work from home, over the Internet.
Hey, throwing out all, all of the Dem incumbants would be a great start to cleaning up DC. Then nominating people like Marlin St. in Indiana would be the next step.
You raise some very enlightened arguments.
I expect the Founders did not anticipate the huge changes in store from agricultural science, the industrial age, population explosion, medical advances, extended life expectancy, immigration etc., (In 1750 the world’s population was 700 million - today it is 7 billion).
A person’s combined length of service in any, or any combination, of the following three capacities shall not exceed 12 years’ time: as an elected government offical, as an appointed government official, or as an employee of any government body or agency. This amendment applies to all federal and non-federal levels and branches of government. In exchange for all or any portion of this 12 years of service, no person shall receive any government funded compensation of any kind other than salary and health benefits received during this same 12 years of service.
There shall be no pension or retirement benefits funded or administered by any government unless expressly permitted in this amendment.
Time spent serving in the following capacities shall be exempted from the restrictions in this amendment, and compensation related thereto may include pension and retirement benefits: as a uniformed member of any component of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard; as a federal judge and federal supreme court justice.
Regardless of any other service, in exchange for serving in the following capacities, a person shall receive government funded salary and health benefits during the period of service, but no person shall receive any government funded compensation of any kind other than salary and health benefits received during this same period of service: any time spent serving as President and Vice-President of the United States; 6 years of the total time spent serving as a top level ambassador; 6 years of the total time spent as a top level cabinet secretary.
An exemption pertaining to federal law enforcement personnel shall only be valid if passed by an 80% majority of both houses of Congress and signed by the President, all occuring during the same session of Congress. Such an exmption shall not do anything but: increase the number of years of service allowable and permit pension and retirement benefits. No amendment shall be introduced in either house earlier than 6 months after this amendment becomes law.
An exemption pertaining to non-federal law enforcement personnel shall only be valid if passed by an 80% majority of all state-wide legislative bodies and signed by the state Governor of the state employing these personnel, all occuring during the same legislative session of that state. Such an exmption shall not do anything but: increase the number of years of service allowable and permit pension and retirement benefits. No amendment shall be introduced in either house earlier than 6 months after this amendment becomes law.
It could be worse. You could be Arlen Specter.
Oh, wait. You are Arlen Specter."
I don't care who you are, that's funny right there!
I like it;)
Should I have known this?
Did you write it? If not, where did you find it?
Will the people of PA ever learn???
I guess Specter was truly a “democrat” who has faith in “democracy.”
But the one-third who endorse their congressman are committed and can win on their strength alone in a low-turnout election. Many don’t even know who their rep. is. It was noted in a 2007 poll that the majority of the American people thought that because of GWB the Republicans still controlled both houses.
That's a canard, designed to make both "extremes" look bad, and tell people that moderate, a la Bayh, is the way to go.
The truth is that the Dems got taken over by their crazy loony left side, most of the Republican "elites" moved leftward, to embrace Health Care Lite, Cap'n Trade Lite, Stimuli, and all kinds of lefty ideas that we just have to go along with. The American people never moved left, just the elites. So, what appears "extreme" to the McCain, Grahamnesty, Snowe crowd is simply the American people continuing to espouse the values of Ronald Reagan and the American Constitution.
I think he was like that 20 years ago.
Heh, as my brother noted, when I sent him a link to the video of interviews with Obama voters, that was done after the 2008 election , “Some people should never be allowed near a voting booth!”
He would make a great display in the Smithsonian.
Point noted. Thanks, libs_kma!
Including the judiciary, although I’d defer to the wisdom of the founders and give them the longest term limits.
I’d also establish a flat tax at 10 percent on everyone.
I’d also restrict all federal spending to those things enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and require that all legislation specifically state which of those enumerated powers gives the bill legality. You don’t want term limited politicians and bureaucrats with a lifetime tenure.
I’d also establish some sort of spending limit, although I’m not smart enough to figure out how to do it. Something on the order of the federal budget not being more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product, although, as I say, I’m clueless how to do it or enforce it. Nevertheless, spending and entitlements is the main reason we’re in the mess we’re in.
I like your list. It’s a great daydream for a Sunday afternoon.
>>> I just have this gut feeling that the small size of the House is the top problem with OUR Federal Government. <<<
You have an excellent point. My memory of the founding fathers is that they believed that one representative for 30,000 people was a good size, so the rep would know most of the people he or she represents. Limiting the number of representatives has, as you say, made them more and more distant over time.
I would love to see a return to the representatives connected to an actual number of citizens. If we had one rep for 50,000 people, that would mean, in Alaska, we would have an Alaska Native rep for those of us here in the Bush, four reps for Anchorage, one for Fairbanks, and one for southeast. That would be a far more fair representation than what we have now.
That would give us 6000 representatives - about half the size of a basketball arena. It would sure be diverse, for certain. So they’ll have to build something like the Senate in the Star Wars series.
I like this idea.
They don’t even need to go to DC and be a terrorist bullseye...today they could meet electronically...from their districts...