DrMyers’s Blog

April 29, 2009

Personal or Political: Specter Jumps Ship!

 

Democratic Senator: Arlen Specter

Democratic Senator: Arlen Specter

It was an exciting time as the crowd grew at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.  A steady stream of loyal followers flowed from the Chicago Coliseum to the Auditorium Theatre, waiting for their leader and former President to take the stage.  Republican Primaries have posed challenges for Republican Candidates since its inception in 1912.  Theodore Roosevelt, feeling like the more qualified candidate and best spokesperson for the party, beat both of his challengers 9-2 out right in the primaries of 1912, and naturally felt as if he would be undergoing the best exercise of his life; Running For Office!

Amazingly Roosevelt’s run for office did not go as he originally planned, and as he dawned the stage to address those delegates he found so faithful, these precious words articulated the true task he felt was forgotten by the Republican Party, “To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliances between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.”  After this platform was adopted, he went out on the campaign trail, and even after a “would be” assassin’s bullet, struck and lodged in his chest, Teddy Roosevelt stated, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” 

As Arlen Specter stood addressing the cameras, the 29year Senator spoke with the same vigor as a wounded politician of old.   “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.” Specter stated, and not a moment too soon!  As he left his office to dawn the capitol, constituents met the Republican Senator not with torches and pitchforks outside his office, but with warm greetings, cheers and applause.  Specter had found his audience…the people he was sent to represent!

Changing parties in the United States Senate is not a new phenomenon, nor is it an explainable action.  One must believe, that the Senator who’s made his choice, has spent long hours in deep deliberation with his own being, before jumping off of the Titanic and onto the Carpathia

If you watched any news station today, you would have thought that this was the first time a Senator left the Republican Party.  Playing it down, most Republican Pundits and Strategists stated, “They saw it coming” and that “He was doing this to save his own political career”.  Regardless of his reasoning, the Republican Party has had a strong history of its elected members parting ways.  Below is a list of Senators who have taken the same leap of faith that Arlen Specter took today:

  • Miles Poindexter of Washington. Republican to Progressive in 1913 and back to Republican in 1915.
  • Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin. Republican, ran as Progressive for President in 1924.
  • Robert M. La Follette, Jr. of Wisconsin. Republican to Progressive in 1935.
  • George W. Norris of Nebraska. Republican to Independent in 1937.
  • Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota. Farmer-Labor to Republican in 1941.
  • Wayne Morse of Oregon. Republican to Independent in 1953 and to Democrat in 1955.
  • Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Independent Democrat to Democrat in 1956 and then to Republican in 1964.
  • Harry F. Byrd, Jr. of Virginia. Democrat to Independent in 1971.
  • Richard Shelby of Alabama. Democrat to Republican in 1994.
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado. Democrat to Republican in 1995.
  • Bob Smith of New Hampshire. Republican to Independent in 1999, and back to Republican in 1999.
  • James Jeffords of Vermont. Republican to Independent in 2001.

Out of 12 Senators that have switched parties within the last 100 years, 7 of them (at some point) left the Republican Party.  This pattern points toward two factors that both Republicans and Democrats should be aware of.  

a. The Republican Party is capable of driving away its members and delegates!

Since 1938, only 10 identifiable years could Republican’s (versus 27 years for Democrats) boast that they controlled a majority of the States Legislatures in the US.  This is a clear reflection of the Republican Party’s inability to articulate its strengths and/or beliefs to the constituents back home in their states and districts.  Because of this weakness, former Representatives (in both the House and the Senate) have had to switch their party affiliations to correlate with the mindset of the people they represent.  One must remember, Washingtonians do not elect Senators, only states and districts have that power; and an elected official is only a reflection of those he represents in those districts and states.  

b. Republicans have a way of bouncing back!

We must remember that the last time Democrats were in a position to have a “Filibuster Proof” Senate; the political atmosphere was very similar to the one we are living in now.  Ford had just lost the election to the Fresh, Un-Tarnished, Governor who had not been corrupted by Washington Politics…Jimmy Carter!  Over those next few years, bipartisan efforts ceased to exist, inflaming the Right!  It was during this period the “Moral Majority” saw its emergence on the scene, and Reagan Democrats were born, costing Democrats the Majority.  

Regardless of whether Specter just wanted to secure, in his mind, a viable race for the Senate seat he’s held for 29 years, or if the Republican party has moved so far right, it pushed Specter off the boat, the fact remains that partisan politics distracted the American people and its leaders from tackling problems such as:  Affordable Health Care, Lowering Poverty Levels, Equal Rights for Women in the Workplace, and lastly…pushing legislation through that would properly fund research to cure AIDS and Cancer.  

Maybe our Founding Father had an accurate foresight of political parties, a warning that we might want to heed:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

George Washington: No Party Affiliation

George Washington: No Party Affiliation

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

April 28, 2009

“This Little Piggie Went to the Market: This Little Piggy Might be in Your Home!

 

 

Will They Catch Me?

Will They Catch Me?

On June 5th 1981, doctors and 5 men in Los Angeles were confused, bewildered, and scared.  A clammy feeling turned into fatigue, which led to respiratory problems and a fever.  All tests were inconclusive, and were pointing to something more than they had ever seen.  One by one, doctors examined books, their patients, and each other; totally unaware that these 5 men would be the first of millions to die with a little known disease called AIDS.  Unaware of where it came from, although it is suspected that it either came from the result of the pursuit of a vaccine for poliomyelitis disease or it arrived here in 1969 from Haiti, 27 years later doctors still examine books and patients,  searching for a cure to this disease before millions of other people die as well.

A true oddity lies in the fact that in 1945 we developed the hydrogen bomb and killed millions.  Consequently, we have been watchful of all countries who have developed this same technology, fighting conflicts just to have more control of an unpleasant outcome from the misuse of this technology; while with faster computers and many advancements in science and medicine, we still have not produced a vaccine or antidote that strongly combats and/or cures AIDS and HIV, leaving millions of children and adults alike across the globe helpless.

Another strange occurrence has developed over the last 72 hours.  A week after President Obama’s visit to Mexico, a combination of swine flu, bird flu, and human flu viruses sprouted in Mexico, and has swept across the America’s, killing 149 people…so far.  While viruses with this genetic makeup had not previously been found circulating in humans or pigs, there is no formal national surveillance system to determine what viruses are circulating in pigs in the U.S.  “The word ‘containment’ is really inappropriate or … unneeded at this time. It’s too late. The swine flu is here,” said Dr. Bonnie Sorensen, chief deputy director of the California Department of Public Health.

I have one simple question:  Is there a formal surveillance system to detect WHERE and HOW this strand of flu developed, or will we be left with as many unanswered questions that we still have with AIDS/HIV?

Some reporters found it very strange that this strain of “Swine Flu” cannot be protected against by the human seasonal H1N1 flu or “Flu Shot” so commonly taken here in America.  Others have found it strange that, as stated by World Health Organization officials, it could take 4-6 months before the first batch of vaccines is available to fight the virus.  When White House Press Secretary Gibbs was questioned by reporters in regards of a possible Bio Terrorism attack that might have targeted the President, Gibbs would only reassure reporters that he had spoken to the doctors who treat the President, and they were confident in the good health and safety of the Commander in Chief. 

Will WHO, World Health Organization, move the current alert from 4 to 6 if more cases are found here in the US and overseas?  If this “Swine Flu” evolves into a pandemic, will America be properly prepared financially to handle the situation?  According to Dave Obbey D-WI, “We have been trying to get adequate funding to prepare the nation for a pandemic outbreak since 2005. We tried again as recently as January in the economic recovery package. Whether or not this influenza strain turns out to have pandemic potential, sooner or later some strain will.”  In January, as the stimulus package and budget was being hashed over party lines, “Pandemic Diseases” were considered “Left-Wing Agenda” and demonized in the media…along with Volcano Monitoring.

Pandemic Diseases were not the only thing halted, and/or ignored as this new administration has been coming together.  Because of suspected funds given to Gov. Sebelius of Kansas by a doctor who has performed abortions, Republicans had stalled her confirmation as the Head of the Department of Health and Human Services.  This agency is also waiting for 20 more positions to be confirmed by the Senate.  In the mean time, DHHS will still be working, although not fully staffed, closely with the CDC in preventing and treating Swine Flu.  It is apparent that partisan politics has again, jeopardized the health and well being of the American Citizens, while nightly news pundits reiterate that, “This may only be the beginning”.

One would think that on Monday, all of our Representatives were in Washington, searching for ways to make sure their states and districts were prepared for this “Swine Flu”.  Amazingly, some congressmen/women found time to focus their attention on other matters:  Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Donna Edwards (D-Maryland), Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), and Lynn Woolsey (D-California) were arrested Monday April 27th.  While each one of them showed their passion about the blocking of aid to victims in Darfur, they were not arrested for that.  The Representatives were arrested for ignoring warnings issued by police maintaining a police line to protect the Sudan Embassy in Washington D.C.  The same orders that are given to anyone protesting in front of any of the congressional office buildings to protect the representatives inside were ignored by these congressmen/women.  The irony of it all is that Cong. Jim McGovern is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Rules and the Organization of the House.  

The priorities of a government will never have unison interpretation.  Healthcare, Homelessness, Economics, and Peace will all be matters argued in the Halls of Congress, and their priorities will be determined by those who hold the majority.  Maybe the statement of a man who served both as President and then died while serving in Congress could sum up the sentiments of the current predicament:

6th President of the United States

6th President of the United States

 

“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

~John Quincy Adams  

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