There's an old saying that has guided American politics for a very long time, that "where you stand depends on where you sit," and there is perhaps no better example of it than the recent saga of party-switchers Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter, the Governor of Florida and the lame-duck Senator from Pennsylvania, respectively.
Crist and Specter were both Republicans who decided to leave the GOP when it became clear that it was the only way they were going to stave off more conservative opponents in Republican primaries. Nothing wrong with that of course, as there is a longstanding tradition of party-switching and going independent in our country.
But the real problem in the case of both Crist and Specter was that their stands on issues began to change immediately upon their switching parties, revealing them both to be shallow, opportunistic political creatures who seemed to have no inner core beliefs, but were instead willing to vote in whatever manner best fit their circumstances at the moment.
In the case of Specter an amazing thing happened shortly after he switched from the GOP to the Democrats: suddenly and without warning he began to vote like a Democrat. The sudden switch caused one right-wing group which had given Specter a 42 rating in 2008 and a lifetime rating of 43 to give him a rating of 20 after his switch and voila: a moderate Republican was suddenly transformed into a center-left Democrat.
Crist's transformation was even more sudden and dramatic: A longtime anti-abortion Governor when he was a Republican, within days of leaving the GOP to become an Independent Crist reversed his position on the issue, deciding to veto a bill which required women to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion.
The voters of Pennsylvania tossed Specter out, choosing instead a race between a strong progressive named Joe Sestak and a strong conservative named Pat Toomey; Crist may be the next casualty. Instead, Tea Partiers and boldly progressive candidates may do well this year as the American people in 2010 seem to crave authenticity from their political leaders, be it center, left or right. They want bold colors, not pale pastels, to quote an authentic politician from another era, and what they don't want is Cristianity, a cynical brand of politics that is practiced by those who have no internal philosophical compass but are instead merely guided by the company they keep.
Whether 2010 is a year that tosses out politicians merely for being incumbents or is specifically targeted at those who support President Obama I can't say for sure, but what is appearing to be increasingly clear to me is that it will be the year in which voters reject Cristianity and insist on candidates whose positions are so rooted in who they are that, though they may change uniforms from one party to another or wear no party uniforms at all, their overall guiding political philosophy would remain unchanged and that where they stand would not be affected by where they happen to sit.