With Arlen Specter's defection, all that stands between the Democrats and a 60-seat Senate majority are Norman Coleman's lawyers. I wish them every success -- but they have not exactly been on a winning streak to date.
Which means that Democrats won't need to resort to unorthodox tactics to push, say, their healthcare bill through Congress. They'll have the votes.
If the Democrats do succeed in pushing through national health insurance, they really should set aside a little extra money to erect a statue to Pat Toomey. They couldn't have done it without him!
Pat Toomey is of course the former president of the Club for Growth who planned to challenge Arlen Specter in the 2010 Pennsylvania Republican primary. Polls showed Toomey well ahead -- not because he is so hugely popular in the state, but because the Pennsylvania GOP has shriveled to a small, ideologically intense core. Toomey now looks likely to gain the nomination he has sought -- and then to be crushed by Specter or some other Democrat next November.
The Specter defection is too severe a catastrophe to qualify as a "wake-up call." His defection is the thing we needed the wake-up call to warn us against! For a long time, the loudest and most powerful voices in the conservative world have told us that people like Specter aren't real Republicans -- that they don't belong in the party. Now he's gone, and with him the last Republican leverage within any of the elected branches of government.
For years, many in the conservative world have wished for an ideologically purer GOP. Their wish has been granted. Happy?
Let's take this moment to nail some colors to the mast. I submit it is better for conservatives to have 60% sway within a majority party than to have 100% control of a minority party. And until and unless there is an honored place made in the Republican party for people who think like Arlen Specter, we will remain a minority party.
This post originally appeared on NewMajority.com.