The centrist Democrat: The most endangered of species
This isn’t the best week to be a moderate, centrist, bipartisan Democrat, if we hadn’t already jumped the shark on that a while ago.
But this week, man, we saw the fallacy of riding the middle exposed big time.
Republicans stopped pretending a long time ago. You can probably date the death of the centrist Republican to the early 1990s, the Clinton ‘90s, we could call them.
The massive resistance-type effort to oppose the proposed Clinton healthcare reform in 1993 and 1994 that led to the huge win for Republicans in the 1994 midterms taught the GOP that the voting public rewards the side that wages all-out political war.
Clinton, sure, he survived, and won a second term, in 1996, but he only did so by conceding on almost literally every single important political issue of the day, and even then he still faced impeachment ahead of the 1998 midterms as his reward from his friends on the other side.
Democrats, not ones to learn lessons, played nice in the Bush years, signing their names to his doomed-to-failure No Child Left Behind education reform, oh, and also his war mania, can’t forget about that.
Fool lot of good that did them.
We get to the Obama era, and another round of massive resistance, with Republicans labeling Obama’s lukewarm healthcare reform a government takeover of your healthcare, creating out of thin air so-called “death panels” that they knew didn’t exist, but also knew would scare the shite out of seniors.
How many times did Republicans shut down government over the budget and the debt ceiling in the Obama years? It seemed to come up every year, which is funny, with Donald Trump running trillion-dollar deficits, and not a single Republican in Congress even feigning concern.
The Obama presidency was wasted because Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress went out of their way to water down their proposals with the idea that they might win bipartisan support in mind.
All that ended up doing was moving what they were able to achieve to the right, artificially, and, guess what, when Republicans got the White House back, in 2016, they didn’t return the favor.
Just from watching a few hours of Congress at its best this week, then, the twin Robert Mueller House committee hearings, wow.
You had Republicans outright calling Democrats “socialists,” as if that’s a normal thing to do, throwing epithets out as a form of greeting, basically.
Democrats, still not showing that they have the capacity to learn, continue to try to reach across the aisle.
As the editor of AFP, I get a constant flow of press releases from Virginia’s congressional delegation, which is headed up by two Democratic senators, and a House split with seven Democrats and four Republicans.
The releases from the Democrats almost invariably include the word “bipartisan.” The Republicans whine about Obamacare, socialism, government overreach, and such nonsense.
It ain’t even close to being a fair fight, is what I’m getting at.
Republicans pound the crap out of Democrats, who respond thusly:
One day, they’ll learn.
OK, they won’t. I tried to end on a positive note. Sorry.
Column by Chris Graham