Right of Liberalism and left of Conservatism is the place where the majority of American electorate resides. It is the place where calm reasoned logic supersedes screaming, reactionary tomfoolery. It is where the typical politicians go running to after they have “secured” their base; and where they go running from when there are no more campaigns to wage. However, it is where the future of American politics resides.
Looking for the political middle in Congress? It’s gone.
In 1982, there were 344 Members whose voting records fell somewhere between the most conservative voting Democrat and the most liberal voting Republican in the House. Thirty years later, there were 11. That means that in 1982 the centrists — or at least those who by voting record were somewhere near the middle of their respective parties — comprised 79 percent of the House. In 2012 they made up 2.5 percent of the House. So, yeah.
There are any number of reasons for this disappearance — partisan gerrymandering and closed primaries being the two most obvious — but the numbers are unbelievably stark, particularly when you consider that roughly 30 percent of the electorate consider themselves political independents. (According to exit polling, 29 percent of people named themselves independents in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.)
This explains why there will be no grand or even big bargain on debt and spending — or much of anything else — anytime soon. The political incentive to make deals simply does not exist in the House and, in fact, there is almost always a disincentive for members to work across the aisle.The deal-makers — as we have seen from the last month in the House — are largely gone. The two people who do seem capable of crafting deals — Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — come from a different time in politics. (Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, McConnell in 1984.) The middle’s voice in the House is so soft as to be almost non-existent. And it’s hard to see that changing — at least in the near term.
All of which means one thing: No deal(s)