One congressman from the fifth district in Alabama yesterday announced his decision to switch from the Democratic party to Republican. Applause, applause and the chairman of the Republican party welcomed him into the fold with open arms.
Some more far right leaning conservatives question if a hearty welcome is deserved. Some are pointing to the party switches of others in previous political seasons. The most recent example of a party switch for brazen political expediency would be the Senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector. Originally a Democrat, as he entered national politics he ran as a Republican. Now, realizing his Senate career may be winding down after decades in the office, he has gone back to the Democrats. He faces a tough re-election campaign and it is obvious that he felt he would have a stronger showing as a Democrat. Whatever.
Under the Bush administration's tenure, an early convert to the other side of the political aisle made the balance of power in the Senate shift from Republican control to the Democrats and that was much more significant at the time than the defection of Spector. When the Republican senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, left the Republican party he was not doing so for an easier re-election bid. He was doing it out of a temper tantrum. It was well known at the time that Jeffords felt left out of negotiating and financial allotments during the debate of the No Child Left Behind Act and so, in order to embarrass President Bush and hurt his fellow Republicans, he went to the other side. They made great hay of this action, naturally, and the Democrats were put into the majority in the Senate. Jeffords tried his best to make it all look as though his personal ethics and political beliefs had been sullied by his own party and thus, time to make a switch. No one actually believed him, though, and that was his final term in the Senate. Good riddance.
So, what conclusion should be drawn from the switch made yesterday by Rep. Parker Griffith of the fifth district in Alabama? Probably not too much time should be spent on this. Yes, of course, Chairman Steele correctly welcomed Griffith into the party. Why not? A political party is not a private club. Regardless of any other political spin going on in Washington, this defection was a smack to Speaker of the House Pelosi and her leadership of that body. More important to Griffith's decision process, though, was probably the realization that the Democratic party is not doing so well in the minds of the American voter. Those who call themselves 'Republican' may still number in a low minority but those who call themselves 'conservative' are on the rise. Which party do the conservatives most identify with on election day?
The current dominance of the liberal left in power in Washington, D.C. is forcing voters to focus on which direction our nation should move forward. Should we continue on with the spending orgy and embrace the far left in their pursuit of a permanent majority or should our fellow countrymen say, wait. Not so fast. Our current path is not at all a healthy one for our future. Americans thought we needed 'change' yet this current agenda pursued in the chambers of power is not exactly what most had in mind. The realities of the left's agenda has been a slap in the fact to most paying attention.
The Tea Party movement has focused attention to the perils of fiscally irresponsible leadership. A sleeping giant has awoken after a long slumber. The last time this happened, Republicans were able to take the majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in more than 40 years. While 2010 will most likely not be so dramatic, it will be the beginning of the path back for Republican leadership. The demise of the Republican party was greatly exaggerated after the election of President Obama in November 2008. Obama won the election with a strong percentage of winning votes, to be sure. It wasn't, however, a landslide. It can be argued that his election was due to being at the right place in the right time. More than anything else, his election can be credited to the falling economic atmosphere at the time. Democrats took the victory to mean it was time to finally push an all out liberal spending agenda that they have been dreaming about for decades.
Now is the time for Republicans to stress the differences in political philosophy. Now is the time to stop and take the time to grow a strong bench - a strong field of candidates for future elections from the local level up to the top national elections. Now is the time to encourage and train future candidates at the grassroots level. Now is the time to keep the pressure on elected officials - to remind them that we are watching and expect them to live our philosophy as they vote. Now is the time to continue to grow the party with outreach to all communities that embrace strong conservative fiscal values and national security issues. Embrace those who believe in personal freedom and value strong communities in which to raise a family.
Now is the time to get involved, beginning at the local level. At the very least, vote in every election. Read about the issues and go vote. Let your voice be heard. Join a group of like minded individuals for conversation and motivation.
Let us remember the term used by former President Reagan - happy warriors. We are happy warriors. The public is waiting for us.