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There are no winners in war against moderates ^ | May 5, 2012 | Cokie and Steven Roberts

Posted on 05/05/2012 3:57:17 PM PDT by Maelstorm

Former Republican Rep. Tom Davis told The Hill newspaper: “The middle is getting squeezed,” but his comment vastly understates the crisis in the capital. Activists in both parties have declared war on moderates. The ideological gap between the two parties is widening rapidly. Paralysis is pervasive.

Political scientist Keith Poole of the University of Georgia, who studies voting patterns, told the National Journal: “We are clearly as conflicted as we’ve been since 1905. The parties are, I think, completely dysfunctional and incapable of acting on major policy.”

The National Journal reports that as recently as 1999, more than half of all House members could be called centrists. That number has dropped to almost zero, and next year the president — whoever he is — will face an even more polarized Congress.

We have become Europe, with ideologically based parties, rigidly enforced discipline and fast-fading bipartisanship. That system might work in smaller, more homogenous countries, but it’s a disaster in a nation this large and diverse.

Our political tradition has always placed pragmatism over purity, reality over rigidity. Americans dealt with the world as it was, not as we wanted it to be. We didn’t spout dogma; we solved problems.

Both parties can share blame.

Start with the Democrats. In Pennsylvania, two moderate congressmen — Jason Altmire and Tim Holden — lost to primary challengers from the left. Both belonged to the centrist group known as Blue Dogs, which included 54 House Democrats.

Altmire and Holden were opposed by outside groups — from MoveOn to the League of Conservation Voters — who punished them for straying from liberal orthodoxy. (Both lawmakers voted against Obama’s health-care bill, for example.)

The leftist website Daily Kos crowed about the outcome, boasting that the demise of the Blue Dogs would create “a more effective and progressive Democratic party.” Wrong.

This is not a left-leaning country. In the last election, only 22 percent of all voters called themselves liberals. The loss of Blue Dogs like Altmire and Holden might make the Democrats a more “progressive” party, but also a far smaller and less “effective” one.

Republicans engage in the same kind of fantasy politics. In Utah, hard-core ideologues have challenged the renomination of Sen. Orrin Hatch, a loyal conservative but a professional legislator who prided himself on working with Democrats like the late Ted Kennedy. He doesn’t dare work with Democrats anymore.

In Indiana, another Republican conservative who doesn’t believe Democrats consort with the devil, Sen. Richard Lugar, is facing a fierce primary challenge next week from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Keepers of the right-wing flame, from the National Review to Sarah Palin, have weighed in against Lugar because he fails their purity test.

On the presidential level, too, centrist impulses are sputtering. Democrat Bill Clinton ran for re-election declaring that “the era of big government is over.” His successor, George W. Bush, campaigned as a “compassionate conservative” who would unite, not divide, the nation.

Now, Mitt Romney is desperately calling himself a “severe conservative” and running as fast as he can from the label that he once proudly embraced, “Massachusetts moderate.”

The war on moderates is escalating. Extremes are winning. The American system is losing.

KEYWORDS: bluedogs; cokieroberts; dailykos; davis; dicklugar; indiana; jasonaltmire; keithpoole; lugar; massachusetts; mediawingofthednc; mittromney; moderates; moveon; nationalreview; orrinhatch; partisanmediashills; pennsylvania; rathergate; richardlugar; richardmourdock; sarahpalin; southcarolina; stevenroberts; tedkennedy; timholden; tomdavis; utah; virginia
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To: sergeantdave


41 posted on 05/06/2012 3:06:47 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: xzins

I think she’s right - certainly about the polarisation of US politics anyway.

42 posted on 05/06/2012 3:08:55 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: PittsburghAfterDark

The definition may not have changed, but the “progressives” are far, far more openly following the logical conclusion of their mindsets.

43 posted on 05/06/2012 3:10:37 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Vanders9

If you don’t believe in labels, take all of them off your kitchen cleaning supplies and foodstuffs, then randomly rearrange them. Then, you will know why labels are a good thing.

44 posted on 05/06/2012 5:16:19 AM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: dfwgator

Excellent point.

45 posted on 05/06/2012 6:35:44 AM PDT by Maelstorm (Better to keep your enemy in your sights than in your camp expecting him to guard your back.)
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To: Vanders9

‘That kind of depends on how you define “moderation”.’

“..Decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”- Winston Churchill

Sounds like a good definition of moderate to me- someone who stands for nothing.

46 posted on 05/06/2012 7:08:53 AM PDT by GenXteacher (You have chosen dishonor to avoid war; you shall have war also.)
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To: GenXteacher

Well, I dont define it like that.

47 posted on 05/06/2012 10:50:03 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: kosciusko51

I meant labeling people, not kitchen utensils. I like to think that people have a great deal more worth than egg whisks.

48 posted on 05/06/2012 10:52:07 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Maelstorm

>>That system might work in smaller, more homogenous countries, but it’s a disaster in a nation this large and diverse.

This nation was never intended to work via top down “leadership” from Washington, DC. Power needs to devolve back to the states now that this experiment in centralized power, American style, has been shown to be an abject failure.

49 posted on 05/06/2012 10:56:45 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: Vanders9
I'm not talking about labeling people, just their ideas.

Perhaps I should not have used "right" or "left" for labels, but "good" and "bad". For instance, killing someone is bad. "Bad" is a label, but it easily conveys a meaning to the subject.

To go on, what about the terms "supply-side economics" or "Keynesian economics". Both are labels that quickly sum up two different economic schools of thought. Without the labels, I have to explain in detail what each means. With the label, I can quickly establish a starting point for a discussion.

So I don't understand your problem with labels.

50 posted on 05/06/2012 1:26:15 PM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: kosciusko51
The problem with labels is that they are all encompassing (at least to the people who make them). But in fact, of course, there are huge variations in opinion on almost everything. You could label me a Christian, and be right, but does that mean that I have exactly the same thoughts on applied theology as the local pentecostals, or methodists? Of course not. But the label lumps me together with them, and even (to some people) with Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Unitarians.

Similarly, there are lots of people who call themselves "keynesian economists", but they range from total believers to people who admit that "supply-side economics" has a case too, through to folk who just admit keynesian economics has a point ot two going for it. Nor is this solely a matter of individual variation, because people argue over what the basic definitions are. What some people call "progressive", others call "socialist", and some no doubt call "reactionary". I admit, without the labels you would have to explain in detail what you meant, but I would argue that might not be too bad a thing. It might prevent a lot of misunderstanding, after all.

There's a further problem with labeling, and that is that certain labels become irretrievably linked to one another, but some kind of political osmosis. Thus, labels like "conservative" are linked to "NRA", "pro-life", "religious right", "republican", "capitalist" and "anti homosexual" (amongst many others). It has now got to the point that identifying yourself by one of those labels automatically (in the minds of others) gets you assigned to all of the others. But of course Conservative is a very broad term. Some are social conservatives, some are fiscal conservatives, to others political systems are what most needs to be addressed. Most would no doubt go along with many of the things on that list, but they wouldnt major on them. Few suited business investors are picketing abortion clinics. Some republicans ARE gay.

Does this matter? Well yes, because when labels are applied to people in that way, it denies their individualism and prevents them thinking through what they really believe, and that leads to trouble. Lumping people together into nice, neat little socio-economic groups is what leftists major on. This kind of thing stunts reasoned debate as well, which ultimately works to the detriment of the republic.

51 posted on 05/07/2012 4:26:02 AM PDT by Vanders9
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To: Vanders9
So, if I understand, you oppose labels not for the denotation, but for the connotation.

Whether you like them or not, labels are necessary. And how a label is used by a person say as much about him or her as it does the person being labeled.

For instance, if an author uses the word "vigilante" to describe a person using a gun for protection, I already know quite a bit about the author's frame of reference when it comes to guns and gun control. In fact, that is still more information than I get on the "vigilante".

So, not only are labels helpful, but how they are used says a lot about the speaker.

52 posted on 05/07/2012 9:06:16 AM PDT by kosciusko51 (Enough of "Who is John Galt?" Who is Patrick Henry?)
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To: Maelstorm

Jason Altmire and Tim Holden are “moderates” b/c they voted against Obamacare? Mike Ross of AR did the same thing after helping pass Obamacare out of committee and then voting against it. Ross was smart enough to quit, I guess these 2 weren’t.

53 posted on 05/08/2012 9:42:40 AM PDT by pulaskibush (Thou shalt tax/steal from Peter to help Paul/Pablo is not in the Bible!)
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To: Maelstorm

Where are the Democrat moderates? They place the most partisan radicals on so-called important thoughtful committees like Judiciary and Foreign Relations whereas GOP always puts their moderates and “statesmen” on such. They get mowed down by the Kennedys, Turban Durbin, Kerry, Leahy

54 posted on 05/08/2012 6:24:11 PM PDT by shalom aleichem
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To: Maelstorm

Davis was a good NRCC chairman but he needs to shut the hell up, all he does is trash conservatives now. He just ignorantly sounded off on the gay thing.

55 posted on 05/10/2012 10:21:28 AM PDT by Impy (Don't call me red.)
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