After vowing not to support cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act in his first day as a Democrat, and then voting against the Democratic budget in his second day as a Democrat, Arlen Specter has now, in his third day as a Democrat, voted against the housing bankruptcy reform legislation known as "cramdown." So far, Specter's party switch has gained progressives a whole lot of nothing in terms of votes.
Specter's post-switch voting record is now a perfect demonstration of why having 60 Democratic Senators is not, and never was, a magic number for Democrats. In June, when Al Franken is seated, there won't be a single piece of legislation that has been defeated so far in the 111th Congress (cramdown, EFCA, 100% cap and trade) but will pass when Democrats have 60 Senators. Not a single one.
We will shortly reach 60 votes in the Senate, but the more progressive aspects of the Democratic legislative agenda will still be stalled. This means we have officially reached the era where "more Democrats" is completely irrelevant to the progressive cause. From now on, all progressive electoral activity must be targeted in support of candidates who will add, or maintain, progressive votes on key pieces of legislation like cramdown, the Employee Free Choice Act, and putting a price on all carbon usage rather than just some carbon usage.
The "D" next to a the name of a Senate candidate or incumbent has become irrelevant. Now we need letters list "B" for bankruptcy reform, "C" for putting a price on all carbon, and "E" for EFCA. No matter what party a with which candidate identifies, Senate campaigns are now only relevant to progressives in terms of which pieces of defeated legislation their election or re-election will assist. And that's it.