25 Feb 2011

Must Read Post of the Week – "The Center Falls Apart"

National Journal, who you should be reading anyway, has a wonderful piece talking about the decline of the center. Even given the choice of all I wrote in the last week, I’d recommend this one if I had one to offer. This is how it opens:

Not that long ago, Washington used to be a place full of individual, and individualistic, lawmakers who were both capable and willing to defy party labels and the party orthodoxy to make things happen. That was also a world, paradoxically, where party infrastructure mattered more; a place and time when local, state, and national party machinery exerted at least some influence over candidate selection, fundraising, endorsements, and field operations. The irony is that in that era of greater party influence, lawmakers acted less predictably and with less partisan zeal.

Oh how times have changed. Their tracking put moderates from both parties at a near supermajority thirty years ago, then tracks the decline from there over the years… along with several other declining indicators that have coincided with the growth of polarization over the last generation or so.

Check it out at National Journal »

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13 thoughts on “Must Read Post of the Week – "The Center Falls Apart"”

    1. Same way any other successful political group of any kind does. Find supporters, rally them around something that lights their fire, and act. I’m not entirely sure they’re doing so well with the 2nd part just yet, but I’m still holding out hope.

  1. Another way to look at it is this: trying to govern within your party while at the border of the skirmish doesn’t work. As you move from your own party’s center, you lose power and influence and become distrusted.

    The trend the national journal is describing simply makes an even better case than ever for the need for a real, independent coalition to emerge. We may well have seen a decline in moderate behavior within each dominant party. But so what? We sure haven’t seen a decline in the behavior of independent voting.

    We’ve seen a rise. If this growth continues, there’s plenty of reason to expect candidates to emerge who are more regularly and more broadly appealing to the growing center of voters.

    1. We are already seeing that actually… last cycle saw the most indies running for office in something like 80 years. The Center is Rising… its just we’re rising from almost nothing, and we don’t even have a foundation to start from, so we have a lot of work to do before we can mount a real opposition.

  2. There are two ways to balance a bar in the center.

    1) Put a lot of weight in the center, little or no weight on the right and left ends. Pivot in the center with most of the weight above the pivot point.

    2) Put all the weights on the right and left ends, keeping it balanced with little or no weight in the center. Pivot in the center with little weight above the pivot point.

    I submit that, of the two, small shifts of weight in the center have a greater influence on overall balance in the second scenario.

      1. The center is what it is. Calling something else the center doesn’t make it so. Reality is the best way to combat spin… whether you agree with it or not, the center is easy to show with polling data, sans opinion.

        1. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you. Just try convincing a far rightie of that, especially if the only polling data they trust is from Rasmussen and the only news they trust is from FNC, whose fans still believe by a 70-30 margin that WMDs were found in Iraq, no matter what Bush and Rumsfeld have said in their memoirs.

          1. At least a few times a week anymore I get some leftie or rightie come on here and troll (which I delete) or harass me on Twitter, saying we’re “really” a right winger, or left winger, in disguise. Their map of the world included people like them, and the nutcases who are the opposite of them, with nothing in between.

            Its not worth the time to try to convince them. Partisan blind spots… they’re incapable of seeing anything else, and not like there is a point to trying anyway… although I do end up getting sucked into it on occasion, heheh

            1. I would say, since I started visiting your blog, I believe you really tread down the center, weaving left and right depending on the subject. To be honest, sometimes I have even wondered if you’ve chosen a certain “side” just to make sure you’re not too far left or right. (I’ve dismissed the notion, btw.) If someone visited your site just once, they might be convinced you lean one way or the other, but I would think that anyone with a modicum of intelligence visiting a self-described “politically center” site would stay longer than one or two posts to investigate.

              1. I pretty much just write about what catches my eye.

                Although I *DO* try to pull in a relatively equal helping of center-left and center-right voices. I figure that’ll end up evening out in the end. Got a pretty good mix of left leaners, right leaners and straight centrists I think.

      2. I understand that this notion of “the center moving right” is a favorite talking point on the left these days. I suppose if you are standing far enough left, it might even look that way – but by any objective standard the whole idea is complete nonsense. It is just laughable and says more about the person promoting the idea than it does about the location of the “center”.

        Just read the post on this blog about FDR’s views of public sector unions to see how far things have move left since then.

        Far more frightening, much more objective and frankly unarguable evidence of the hard left slide of this country is this chart on entitlement spending. Part of a truly frightening series here.

        The final slide in the series notes that as a result of exploding entitlement spending, every working person in America now effectively has five times more “dependents” than their parents and fifteen times the dependents of their grandparents.

        Exactly how does that comport with the “center” moving right? It’s ridiculous on its face.

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