I've been expecting Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee to leave the Republican Party even before I read last week that he was considering switching parties if Dubya won a second term. But he seems to be sticking around.
I thought at first that it might be good if Chafee switched sides, or at least went Independent, like Jim Jeffords. However, I think his staying in the party is a good thing, for two reasons. First of all, there should be room in every political party for people with different views. For example, I read in a New York Times editorial today that Harry Reid of Nevada, who will probably take the position Tom Daschle had before he was, well, "Daschled," is pro-life, & I know there are other pro-life Democrats. I'm not defending their position, but hey...if there are still some conservative Democrats, there should be enough room in the G.O.P. for moderate or liberal Republicans like Chafee. (You might say Chafee symbolizes a blue voter in a red state, & Reid may be a red voter in a blue state. That's kind of a simplistic way of putting it, but it's also the condition our country is in right now, so I think it's appropriate.) And second, I agree that Chafee can express his views more effectively from within his own party, as he points out in the article. I believe this is one of the reasons John McCain is so good at what he does.
In the end, it's how Chafee votes that matters, & I'm relieved when I say I don't see him voting with Rick Santorum & other conservative Republican senators anytime soon. While it's not cool that the Democrats will remain outnumbered, I think they'll still have Chafee as an ally on a lot of issues, & that's a relief.
I've also been paying attention to the controversy surrounding Sen. Arlen Specter's promotion. I haven't liked everything Specter's stood for, but I admire that he's been vocally pro-choice for so long. I sure hope he sticks to his guns, no matter how much heat he's getting.