Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Moderate Myth

Is there such a thing as a GOP moderate? Perhaps, but I'm not convinced that they care to bring the party to the middle. First, let's start with the House and Senate. Until last week, the so-called moderates went lock-step with the conservative wing that now has our economy in a perilous situation (with trade and budget deficits posing an enormous problem), has rolled back consumer and environmental protections, curtailed Congressional oversight and has politicized science (amongst other things). Sure, they have a token vote every now and then against the ultra-conservative wing, but there are enough of them that our country could be in a much better footing then we are now if they voted against the ultra-conservative wing.

The so-called GOP moderates in Congress let things get out of hand. Even some of the "triumphs" we had were often overturned during conference committees. Of course, now that Bush and the ultra-conservative wing are a liability, they are going to run to the middle. But they should have done that a long time ago because it's right--it just so happens that it is good politics.

The Washington Post is now talking about how so-called moderate Republicans are unhappy but sticking with the GOP. What I think is important is that the moderates are a minority in the party but don't really care about the right-ward drift of the party:
First, conservatives in their party still outnumber moderates (55 to 39 percent in the most recent survey). Second, few moderates currently see the Democrats as an appealing alternative...80 percent stuck with the GOP.
So, moderates are "unhappy", but are completely willing to get right in line with the hard right-wing of the party and keep them in power.

Over at Washington Monthly, Kevin discussesed the divergence of the GOP activists from the "center". Here is the figure here:

You can find his complete post here and a more thorough analysis of the GOP activists divergence from the center here.

I really want the moderate Republicans to become the dominant faction, but I don't think it's going to happen. What's worse, even though the faction that controls the party is going further and further to the hard-right, the moderates are letting them get away with it. I think the country works best when the two parties work together. That just can't happen with the far-right wing of the GOP (hence the lack of Congressional oversight, their prevention of Democrats being able to find space in the Capitol to have hearings, etc.). The country is going to continue to spiral out of control if the GOP middle doesn't assert themselve. Let's hope that their recent revolt is the beginning of that assertion and not just a temporary political ploy.

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