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Olympia Snowe Reacts to Arlen Specter’s Move to the Democrats

April 29, 2009

In the New York Times, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine laments the loss of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter to the Democratic party. With the loss of Specter, Senator Snowe now finds herself a member of a shrinking Congressional minority: a socially moderate Republican Senator. While the philosophy of those Republicans currently in the Senate hews closer to the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity school of thought, the other voices that formerly inhabited the Republican party–fiscally conservative, socially moderate patrician northeast and New England Republicans, like the first President Bush–are almost gone now. And Senator Snowe sees a troubling future for the party as a result:

There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.

It is for this reason that we should heed the words of President Ronald Reagan, who urged, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” He continued, “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”

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