Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) may be writing her own exit script from the Republican party. She took to the pages of the New York Times today to speak some hard truths to her fellow party members, and I’m betting their public reactions won’t be positive. Even if a lot of them agree with her in private.
I could have hardly imagined then that, in 2009, we would fondly reminisce about the time when we were disappointed to fall short of 60 votes in the Senate. Regrettably, we failed to learn the lessons of Jim Jeffords’s defection in 2001. To the contrary, we overreached in interpreting the results of the presidential election of 2004 as a mandate for the party. This resulted in the disastrous elections of 2006 and 2008, which combined for a total loss of 51 Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate — with a corresponding shift of the Congressional majority and the White House to the Democrats.
It was as though beginning with Senator Jeffords’s decision, Republicans turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface, failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered.
It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of “Survivor” — you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party.
My Democratic heart would be warmed if Sen. Snowe decided to come over to the side of the angels, but if she did the Republican leadership would have all the excuse it needs to ignore what she has said today. The country would be a lot better off in the long run if it chose to heed her instead.