The time being collegial is past, it’s time for confrontation … One need not choose between being a good conservative Republican and a statesman who gets things done for the country by reaching across the aisle. – Richard Murdock, Republican-nominated candidate for the U.S. Senate, Indiana
Today, those words stand tall in the Republican Party. To me, it’s just another example (of many) of the party-first atmosphere dominating the U.S. political scene. Recent years has brought forth many loud-and-cranky to force out what the very conservative voices proclaim as a RINO – Republican in Name Only.
Through lost primaries, retirements, and decision not to seek re-election, Republican moderates are fading away. As RINO hunters have successfully poached their own party, let us not forget the same thing has been happening on the other side of the aisle.
Many moderate Democrats came to Washington in the late 1990s – and they too are vanishing as DINO hunting season has successfully reduced their numbers. Many, known as Blue Dog Democrats, were a version of Democrats who would stray from the left of their party on a variety of matters, yet today are nothing more than a whimper.
The truth is, the Democratic left despises these moderates as much as the Republican right despises theirs – and since 2006, and much to the elation of the party faithful, this group, seen as partisan traitors to the party’s ideology, is vanishing.
Some moderates in both parties exist, but with so few, with whom are they going to establish common ground? With whom are they going to seek compromise? With whom are they going to find solutions for the good of the whole?
Although the voters of Indiana have not yet elected Richard Murdock (and may not do so), his words are symbolic of the majority of our elected officials for they represent their party. As the weakened, elected political center continues toward extinction in both parties while the partisans cheer with good riddance the departures of Snowe, Lieberman, Luger, Nelson, and others, let the parties not forget that the spectrum from Republican moderates through independent moderates to Democratic moderates is where one finds most Americans. Yes, the largest voting bloc with the least representation – yet, the ones who will decide the outcome – the ones who each party caters for their vote so the winning party can declare an inaccurate policy mandate.
Barring an unforeseen circumstance, election 2012 will not settle differences or bring solutions – just more partisan divide. No matter who wins the president election, I hope that the same party does not control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives – for if it does, an ideological overreach will be the order. Yes, I’ll take gridlock instead of overreach – and then in time, the moderates will return in one form or another to lead the majority of Americans. The real question is, how much time?
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