Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has come up with a new plan for permanent Democratic Party victory: Let Republicans win all the Democratic Party’s nominations for public office.
Joe Torsella has been an active Democrat in Philadelphia politics for some time. Arlen Specter has been a Republican U.S. Senator for three decades, and switched to the Democratic Party just this week. So, guess which candidate Governor Rendell, a Democrat, is supporting?
Yup, it’s Arlen Specter. Governor Rendell has suggested that it would be best for the Democratic Party if Torsella would abandon his campaign for the U.S. Senate, allowing Specter to run for the Democratic Party nomination without any opposition.
Is he right? Would it be better for the Democratic Party if Arlen Specter were allowed to take the Democratic Party’s nomination without a contest? I guess that depends on how you think of the Democratic Party.
If you think of the Democratic Party as just an organization that seeks power for itself, then maybe allowing Specter to take over the 2010 Senate bid would be in its best interests. In this vision, the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for any ideas in particular – it doesn’t have any special political DNA. If that’s true, a longtime Republican like Arlen Specter can burst into the Democratic Party, inserting his own ideas, like a virus, and surrounding himself with the outward Democratic shell, and there’s no damage. After all, the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for anything, in this vision. The Democratic Party is just a vehicle to carry the DNA of those who can control it.
If you think that the the Democratic Party ought to represent Democratic voters, however, allowing Republican-Democrat Arlen Specter to take the Party nomination without any primary election is in contradiction to the interests of the Democratic Party. After all, the majority of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania have repeatedly voted against Arlen Specter. Democratic voters don’t seem to support Specter’s ideas, and might well vote for someone else, given the chance. Depriving them of the opportunity to choose their own representatives would be neither democratic nor Democratic, if this is the way that you consider the political landscape.
Consider what Ed Rendell’s approach would mean if it were applied on a national scale. By his reasoning, the Democratic Party could declare permanent victory and absolute control over Congress if only it allowed all Republican members of Congress to switch affiliation to the Democratic Party, and run for re-election without any Democratic opposition.
Would you count that as a victory?