There was an election today, and I voted. Big deal.
Moderate Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter faced a tough challenge from Pat Toomey, and I voted for Specter. (Luckily for me, I switched from Democrat to Republican last year so I can vote in the primary.)
This is not to say that I think Specter is innocent of some of the various charges against him. Conservatives call him a “RINO” and on some of the economic issues they have a point. But the thing that motivated me to support Specter is something I have discussed before in this blog, and that is the sour-grapes nature of this campaign, which focuses mostly on social issues. (I say “sour grapes” because Toomey’s supporters don’t seem to care that if Toomey wins the primary, the Democrats will have a much better chance of taking the seat.)
Normally, business-as-usual, finger-to-the-wind guys like Specter bore me. But my interest in this campaign was generated largely by the other side — people who want to inject the Culture War into everything.
Dr. James Dobson campaigned hard for Toomey, and wrote a letter explaining why. The sneaky Federal Marriage Amendment is at the heart of it.
Here’s a Toomey dig at Specter for being in the grip of the “Homosexual Lobby.” (Google cache here.) The Toomey campaign accuses Specter of daring to show sympathy to a gay teen suicide by attending a screening of the film “Jim in Bold.” The film, claims the Toomey site, “demonizes” “those opposed to the homosexual agenda.”
I have not seen the film, but according to Bill and Kent’s blog, among the “demonized” were Jim’s fellow schoolmates “who had pulled him out of the shower and peed on him.” Fred Phelps’ God Hates Fags group now wants to place — in the hometown of Jim’s family — a hateful monument stating that Jim defied God’s law and is in Hell. Great folks, these people who scream they’re being demonized for being “opposed to the homosexual agenda.”
I better stop knocking Phelps and the thugs who beat and urinated on Jim, or else Toomey’s supporters will say I too am engaging in “demonization.”
Not to be outdone, Ann Coulter issued a broadside against Specter, blaming him for nearly everything she hates:

Thanks to Arlen Specter:
* States can’t prohibit partial-birth abortion;
* Voluntary prayer is banned at high-school football games;
* Flag-burning is a constitutional right;
* The government is allowed to engage in race discrimination in college admissions;
* The nation has been forced into a public debate about gay marriage;
* We have to worry about whether the Supreme Court will allow “under God” to be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

I find myself wondering whether Specter was responsible for all those things. (Maybe he too is a “traitor” to the United States?)
Coulter concludes:

Some Republicans seem to imagine that Specter has a better chance of winning the general election by appealing to Democrats ? and thereby helping Bush ? than Pat Toomey does. This is absurd. Just because Republicans hate Specter doesn’t mean Democrats like him. It’s no wonder Pennsylvania often votes Democratic. If Arlen Specter represented the Republican Party, I’d be a Democrat, too.

Well, I guess I should say that while I don’t agree with Specter all the time, I agree with Toomey even less of the time. I have drifted from party to party because I can’t stand moral ideologues.
Toomey speaks for the moral ideologues who espouse vintage Culture War moral conservatism, and who want to “purify” the Republican Party to silence those who refuse to kowtow to their idea of a party line.
In my vote, I don’t consider myself to have really voted for Specter, so much as against Culture War vitriol.
A libertarian Specter is not. But libertarians are increasingly unwelcome in the Republican Party because of the same ideologues (to say nothing of out-and-out bigots) who support guys like Toomey.
If the ideologues get their way, I guess I can always go back to being a Democrat.
Either way, I’ll still feel politically homeless.
I don’t know who won; I just hope it wasn’t Toomey.
MIDNIGHT UPDATE: As of midnight tonight, the results from Harrisburg show a fifty-fifty split, as follows:

  • 89% of the votes counted
  • Arlen Specter 434,000
  • Pat Toomey 426,000
  • It looks like Toomey will take it, because Specter had a wider lead earlier (53% to 47%), and the remaining votes are in outlying rural areas.
    Hey, this is a democracy.
    Democrat Jim Hoeffel, a moderate who used to be my congressman, was unopposed in the Democratic primary, which means he saved his strength — and more importantly, his money.
    I wonder whether anyone is planning to form a “Republicans for Hoeffel” group….
    God I hate politics.
    And more than ever do I hate the Culture War.
    (More later — on my “dissent into madness.”)
    UPDATE: For some perspective on these numbers, bear in mind that Pennsylvania had (in 1996) roughly 9 million registered voters, out of which some 4.5 million voted.
    How do those 4 million feel about the ideologues who harp about the “RINO” label?
    While I can only speak for myself, I am sick to death of them. And their labels.
    FINAL UPDATE: Specter finally won, 51% to 49%. Does that mean the Culture War is over? Or is it too early to break out the canned wine?
    REALLY AND TRULY FINAL UPDATE: Dave Tepper weighs in on the side of Specter, in post titled “Why I Haven’t Yet Given Up On Republicans“:

    As long as people like Specter are in the GOP, I’ll have faith that the party can regain its bearings eventually.
    (Actually, I’d love to see them take back the “liberal” label, as in “classical liberal”. Sadly, they’re a long way from that, but a boy can dream.)

    A boy can dream? Actually, I met Specter when I was a boy, and I have always liked him. While I don’t agree with his economic philosophy, he’s good enough on the gun issue to have earned the NRA’s endorsement, and he doesn’t waste his time judging people on the basis of what they do with their genitalia. Simple, common-sense respect for other people’s privacy was what the Republican Party once stood for. Increasingly, the party has been taken over by people who believe “privacy” is a dirty word, and that the sexuality — even spirituality — of other people is their business.
    Most Americans disagree with such thinking. Apparently, most Republicans do too in Pennsylvania — even in a low-turnout primary election expected to favor activist ideologues.
    Maybe there is hope.