Wow. Way to Grinch up Christmas for the Democrats, Parker Griffith.
As we all know, Parker Griffith is the freshman congressman from Alabama who switched parties today and became a Republican.
In terms of what this means, a lot of voices have chimed in regarding whether Griffith is defecting for purely selfish reasons (it’ll be a lot easier for him to win re-election as a Republican in his heavily conservative district) or if he represents the beginning of a tidal wave of blue dog congresspeople leaving the Democrats.
Before I go any further, I want to go on the record as saying that I respect Mr. Griffith’s decision to switch parties. From everything I’ve read (admittedly, only short online reports that I could peruse while at work), it seems to me that Griffith’s actions are the actions of a man of principle. Even while a Democrat he has opposed pretty much every major initiative of the Obama White House. Also, I really can’t imagine that he thinks become a Republican will help him win re-election in any meaningful way. Before he was a politician, Griffith was a doctor. And as a rule, doctors are pretty smart people. As such, Griffith would realize that no matter how much they cheer his decision, the GOP is not going to embrace a man whom they’ve accused of under dosing patients for money. Plus, Tea Party* folks seem to hate him.
Besides, he’s already promised to give back contributions made to him by Democrats. This is far more than I would do. If I were in Griffith’s shoes, I would just say, “Hey, I haven’t changed. The Democratic party has. I’m not going to vote any differently just because I now identify as a Republican. You were all okay with my positions and stances when I rode a donkey. You can’t complain now about my vote now that I’m atop an elephant.”
All that said, Griffith’s switch should be deeply worrying to all right thinking liberals. We on the left have had a field day lately making fun of the Republicans for purging their rosters. Griffith’s leaving might just be proof that Democrats are susceptible to the same thing. Think about it, Griffith is a man who agreed with 85% of the Democratic platform. If someone who’s with us that frequently doesn’t feel comfortable under the liberal tent, then we’re actually worse than the other guys.
All of this is part and parcel with the disgraceful way the progressive left is treating mainstream liberals. It seems like now that we’re not worried about getting gunned down at town hall meetings, the left coalition is splintering because progressives can’t believe that they might actually have to compromise here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a public option and universal health care and all that. But still, we’ve tried big pushes before and it didn’t work. And it still might not work this time. Nor should it. Slow and steady, that’s how to change things. Big changes cause big problems, not all of which may be salvageable. Now, it’s entirely possible that we can radically reform healthcare in one sweeping legislative motion and there won’t be a single hiccup. But that seems like an awfully big risk. Why not make small changes, fix the problems that crop up and move forward from there? Sure, people will suffer, but people have always suffered. That’s more callous than I meant it to be, but honestly, let’s provide relief where we can while ensuring that we don’t create more misery in the process. Besides, whether you want to admit it or not, Republicans might just have something important to contribute… you know, if they ever get around to it.
* Just a quick personal aside. I’ve always been against the idea of having a multi-party system in this country. To my way of thinking run-off elections and viable third (or fourth or fifth) parties would only polarize America and lead to extremism. Ideally, two large parties would need 51% of the population to vote for them, which means that they would have to straddle a number of ideological fences and avoid staking extreme positions. Thus, political moderation. Then August 2009 happened. After watching the Tea Party in action, I’ve been forced to conclude that we need a multi-party system, if only so that lunatics can flock to the Tea Party without worrying that they’re throwing their votes away and leave the GOP for decent conservatives. So, congratulations Tea Party members, you’ve forced me to engage my critical faculties in a more substantial way than any of you have personally.
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