Everybody Loves Centrism

2 comments August 7th, 2007at 11:52am Posted by Eli

In today’s WaPo, Harold Ford Jr. and Martin O’Malley make the case that the only way to capitalize on and heal the failures of Republicanism is… Republicanism Lite! Brilliant!

With President Bush and the Republican Party on the rocks, many Democrats think the 2008 election will be, to borrow a favorite GOP phrase, a cakewalk. Some liberals are so confident about Democratic prospects that they contend the centrism that vaulted Democrats to victory in the 1990s no longer matters.

The temptation to ignore the vital center is nothing new. Every four years, in the heat of the nominating process, liberals and conservatives alike dream of a world in which swing voters don’t exist. Some on the left would love to pretend that groups such as the Democratic Leadership Council, the party’s leading centrist voice, aren’t needed anymore.

This is not strictly accurate. What we wish is that the Democratic party establishment will finally realize that the DLC is not just unnecessary, but TOXIC.

But for Democrats, taking the center for granted next year would be a greater mistake than ever before. George W. Bush is handing us Democrats our Hoover moment. Independents, swing voters and even some Republicans who haven’t voted our way in more than a decade are willing to hear us out. With an ambitious common-sense agenda, the progressive center has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win back the White House, expand its margins in Congress and build a political and governing majority that could last a generation.

“The progressive center”? Wha?

…Repudiating the other side’s approach is only half the battle. Since neither side has a monopoly on truth, the hard part is knowing when to look beyond traditional orthodoxies to do what works.

Like FDR, we can build a lasting majority only by earning it — with ideas that demonstrate to the American people that if they entrust us with national leadership, we can deal effectively with the challenges our country faces and the challenges they face in their everyday lives.

Over the past six years, we’ve seen what happens when an administration writes off the political center and manipulates every decision for partisan gain. Bush’s failure to solve — or even address — America’s great challenges has left our country dispirited, disillusioned and divided.

Okay, now you’ve pissed me off. Do you know why Dubya was able to write off the center and manipulate every decision for partisan gain? Huh? Do you? Because. You. Let. Him.

Every single time there is a vote for war, or torture, or unfettered warrantless wiretapping, or bankruptcy “reform,” or a lifetime judicial appointment for some right-wing nut, you “centrists” are in the middle of it, refusing to filibuster, and usually voting in favor of it to boot. All I see is capitulation to the Republicans’ hard-right agenda and hard-right judicial nominees and disastrous war, dressed up as “centrism”, or “bipartisanship”, or “comity”. But it’s not any of those things; it is only surrender. And surrender is never a winning strategy, on the Hill or at the polls.

So please get the hell out of our face and take the whole DLC and Blue Dog, pro-war, pro-illegal-spying, pro-torture, pro-corporate, pro-Bush caucus with you. You’ve done quite enough, thanks.

UPDATE: D’oh! I got so pissed off that I completely forgot to ask how well that centrist strategy worked out for Ford in last year’s Senate race…

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Wankers


  • 1. shoephone  |  August 8th, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Great post Eli. I expect this kind of garbage from Ford but it’s disconcerting to hear that O’Malley is walking in lockstep. I can only assume that he has been taking phone calls from the likes of Terry McAullife, to the tune of “ride along with us and you could be Hillary’s choice for Veep!”

    We had to put up with the dishonesty of slogans like “compassionate conservativism”. We now find ourselves thick in the stench of “sincere centrists” angling for position. And it’s not going down any easier this time.

  • 2. Eli  |  August 8th, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Thanks, shoe. My original direction for the post was a little more temperate, but when I re-read that one paragraph, I just short-circuited.

    What bugs me the most is that they’re not really centrists. They’re mainly pro-corporate advocates who seem to equate capitulation with bipartisan seriousness. The right is not the center.

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