Are Moderates Passe?
Max Burns of the content-packed site The New Democrat looks at the status of moderates these days. A few highlights:
On a dare, a friend of mine ate two cloves of raw garlic without water. He chewed on them for a while as tears welled up in his eyes, and reluctantly swallowed the awful mess. That’s what being a moderate during this time of tension within both parties feels like: eating a clove of garlic every day and never getting any water….
Moderate Republicans are feeling as estranged by the Bush Administration’s hard-right policies as moderate Democrats are, and the effects are chilling. Christine Todd Whitman, the former Governor of New Jersey and one-time EPA Director under President Bush, now uses the same criticisms of the Bush environmental policies that Senate Democrats have been saying for years. Now Whitman, with her new book urging moderate Republicans to come forward out of the darkness, stands on the same platform as many Democrats….
Indeed. Whitman was loyal while inside the administration but has made it clear since she left that she disagreed with much of what she saw. More from Burns:
The handle moderates once had on the political world is being reduced by the unwavering assault from both sides, each claiming that the moderate is a sellout to the “enemy” because of an unwillingness to accept all policies all of the time.
He’s right. We get this all the time. The monthly “How can you call yourself a moderate?” from a hardline Democrat or a hardline Republican who doesn’t like deviation from a party line. More:
Moderates must organize, talk, meet up and assemble a message that cannot be mistaken. Moderates – Democrat and Republican – must use the tools of the new political generation to insure the survival of civil compromise and discourse.
Moderates may be moderates, but they are moderates of a party. Bookstore meetups and weblogs are the start of the great moderate voice’s revival. Now the momentum must be turned into something great.
There does seem to be something of a backlash by moderates in both parties — witness Whitman on the GOP side, and reservations expressed about Howard Dean as DNC chairman on the Demmie side. Plus, there are signs that moderates are trying to get better organized.
Are we on the threshold of a revival of America’s sagging political center? Or has the center irrevocably shifted and are moderates simply passe in terms of potent power in the 21st Century? Time will tell but Burns, a young moderate Democrat, does reflect a sentiment we pick up constantly — that there are people in both parties who feel shut out and want to have more influence on their parties’ direction and the country’s policies.
Read his post in its entirety.