The Conservative Fissure Widens

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Arlen Specter, my kind of Republican in many ways, calls it quits:

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing. Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion.

It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I find it interesting that a stimulus spending package in the midst of the steepest recession in memory is the sticking point. For the GOP to have remained mute under the massive increases in spending and borrowing under Bush but to make resistance to the Obama stimulus package a litmus test for conservatism reveals that the deepest principle of the Republican base is partisanship.

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