Dionne On The "Rising Radical Center" genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

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E. J. Dionne offers further analysis on the possibility that the political terrain may be in the process of a fundamental shift in a new article in the Washington Post. Before providing some excerpts from the article and some added comments of my own, I wanted to mention an item that isn't directly related to this subject but I think it has more relevance than meets the eye.

I traveled around the world in late 2004 and early 2005. I left for Europe only a couple days after the presidential election so I was frequently asked about the elections by Europeans and it was clear to me that the prevailing sentiment is that they simply didn't understand how George Bush was reelected. I was asked on numerous occasions what was wrong with America and a number of those I encountered went on to explain that they had long understood that the U.S. government didn't always act in a way that represented their impression of the basic goodness of the American public. They indicated that they had always found Americans to be reasonable and fair minded...except they were now beginning to wonder if the election signaled that that was no longer the case.

I struggled to explain the election in a way that they could comprehend...probably because I didn't have an explanation that I found hopeful or satisfying. Regardless, those conversations have troubled me ever since because it seemed to me that the impression of America was no longer consistent with my own beliefs and those I had always felt were representative of this great country. Perhaps the perceived shift that I've written about and that Dionne discusses will begin to restore the inherent goodness and fair mindedness the world has come to expect from the U.S. and that has always made me proud to be an American. I certainly hope so.

HANCOCK, Mich. -- President Bush's six-year effort to create an enduring Republican majority based on a right-leaning coalition is on the verge of collapse. The way he tried to create it could have the unintended consequence of opening the way for an alternative majority.

This incipient Democratic alliance, while tilting slightly leftward, would plant its foundations firmly in the middle of the road, because its success depends on overwhelming support from moderate voters. That's why a Democratic victory in November -- defined as taking one or both houses of Congress -- would have effects far beyond a single election year.

The Democrats' dependence on moderate voters and moderate candidates belies Republican claims that a Democratic victory would bring radically liberal politics to Washington. In fact, the first imperative of Democratic congressional leaders, if their party is successful, will be finding policies, ideas and rhetoric to allow the party's progressives and moderates to get along and govern effectively together.

The strategy pursued by Bush and Karl Rove has frightened most of the political center into the arms of Democrats. Bush and Rove sought victory by building large turnouts among conservatives and cajoling just enough moderates the Republicans' way. But this approach created what may prove to be a fatal political disconnect: Adventurous policies designed to create enthusiasm on the right turned off a large number of less ideological voters.

I may be presumptuous in saying as much but I believe that this article along with other articles and growing commentary being disseminated in the media is the initiation of what I would call a moment of clarity whereby the nation comes to a halt to reevaluate its direction and reconcile the actions of its recent past. Let me be clear. I am not suggesting we engage in a moment of blame...though many would be so inclined and likely justified in doing as much...but rather a moment where we mutually reaffirm those values that connect us as Americans and begin to reject the politics of division and the rhetoric of absolutism. We are a great country when we are focused on the things that unite us rather than focusing on the issues that seek to pit one group against another in order to amass power.

The Democrats' lead in the polls can be thus explained by two factors: the energy of a passionate phalanx of voters desperate to use this election to rebuke Bush, and the disenchantment of moderates fed up with the failures of Bush's governing style and ideology, notably in Iraq.

A survey this month for National Public Radio in the 48 most-contested House districts makes clear that anti-Bush energy is this election's driving force. While only 22 percent of those surveyed by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner strongly approved of Bush's performance in office, 44 percent strongly disapproved. This points to a huge enthusiasm deficit for the Republicans.

But the survey also showed that the Democrats' 51 to 40 percent lead in these competitive districts came not just from liberals but also from self-described moderates, who favored the Democrats by 59 percent to 34 percent. There are twice as many moderates as liberals in these key districts, so moderates are the linchpin of Democratic chances.

There has long been talk about the rise of a "radical center," made up of voters essentially moderate in their philosophical leanings but radical in their disaffection with the status quo. This looks to be the year of the radical center. If it is, the Democrats will win. And if they win, their task will be to meet the aspirations of a diverse group of dissatisfied and disappointed Americans. Not an easy chore, but one that certainly beats being in the opposition.

If this election unfolds according to the current trending and the statistics substantiate the speculations here and by many others around the country, then my own conclusion will be that one thing remains certain...when America moves too far out of balance...or as I prefer to view it...too far from those fundamental values that have sustained our system of government and guaranteed our commitment to faithfully uphold it...there is a will and a spirit that methodically emerges with quiet certainty to right the course.

I find it ironic that our leaders have chosen to offer two phrases to define this election..."stay the course"...or "cut and run". I believe that on November 7th Americans will reject both in favor of a much more meaningful concept..."return and restore". If American history is correct, that's as close as one can come to a sure thing.

Daniel DiRito | October 23, 2006 | 10:12 PM
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1 On January 13, 2007 at 9:23 PM, Eugene wrote —

Your site is very cognitive. I think you will have good future.:)

Thought Theater at Blogged

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