After spending her entire political career as a Republican, Murkowski might hesitate to jump ship. But right now, the central question of American politics — the one on which everything else depends — is the future of our democracy: Are you for it or against it? The GOP has taken the side of the insurrectionists. Murkowski hasn't. It seems like an easy call.
Murkowski's plight resembles that of the late Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvanian who served as a Republican for most of his 30 years in the U.S. Senate — but who flipped to the Democratic Party in 2009 when it became clear he was no longer conservative enough to win another GOP primary. "I know I'm disappointing many of my colleagues," Specter said at the time. "The disappointment runs in both directions." Murkowski probably feels the same way these days. The switch didn't work for Specter, though: He lost the Democratic primary the next year and left office — too left for the right, and too right for the left.
Before Specter, the most famous party switcher in American politics might have been Ronald Reagan, who was a Democrat — and a union leader — for years before he switched to the GOP and launched his political career. "I didn't leave the Democratic Party," he said. "The party left me." It is clear the Republican Party has left Lisa Murkowski. She might as well make it official.