I cannot say I’m too happy right now about Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party. Sure, I think it’s hilarious, but underneath that, there are implications that trouble me. Although I now consider myself an unaffiliated independent voter, my views are certainly to the left of the Southern majority, so I generally end up voting for Democrats at the national level and I take an interest in what direction the party is moving. As far as that goes, I really don’t mind that Specter is a moderate on certain issues, but I am troubled by his (current) refusal to switch his support in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for employees to form a union and would give them the right to choose how they wanted to do that. I’ve come to believe that widespread unionization was a major driving force behind the boom period of the 1950s, in which household wealth (real wealth, not debt) skyrocketed and the country’s GDP grew. Unionization levels the playing field significantly in the private sector, taking away the near-absolute power that managers would otherwise have to determine salaries, benefits, and working conditions. EFCA is a good bill and it needs to become law.
Therefore it is my hope that, despite his statements that he will not switch to supporting this bill, Specter does come around. If this happens, I don’t think it would be a self-centered political move like this party switch indisputably is. Specter has a very long track record of supporting labor, which is why the unions in Pennsylvania have tended to support his election campaigns. If anything, his statement that he would oppose EFCA was a self-centered political move, a failed Hail Mary pass to try to get him through the Republican primary next year. He may very well decide to support it after all if that is where his true convictions (such as they are) lie. After all, he went on record as saying that he would not switch party affiliation, and look what happened.
In any case, whether Specter switches back on EFCA remains to be seen. I’d tentatively bet on it, but I think it would take time for him to announce that. There are other issues relating to this man’s switch, though, that are actually far more troublesome. (Read more…)