Morphing in the Middle

Charles Krauthammer argues that President Obama has misread his victory. Mr. K. opines that the Obama ascendency was, in large measure, a reaction against the previous administration, war weariness and the financial collapse during the final stages of the campaign. The logic is not especially tortured; all elections are framed by the context of what precedes them. So too will the next election be framed by what precedes it.

Sobering points of analysis remain for Republicans. There is no intellectually honest, analysis to demonstrate the slide in Democratic approval numbers supports the idea that Republicans are “doing well”. The slide in approval for President Obama and Congressional Democrats does not equate with a similar rise in Republican numbers. People may be sliding away from Democrats but their stopping well short of the GOP goal line, Virginia and New Jersey notwithstanding.

 Republicans appear to be counting on self destructive behavior from Democrats. Big mistake! Big mistake, because your defined by your opposition. A small number of politically motivated decisions by the President, moving issues toward the center for a brief rest stop will thwart that anemic approach. A significant crisis puts you in a corner. Being a reflection of your opponent does little more than allow you to compete for the “lesser of two evils” mantle. That strategy may work, for one election, this one, …….. maybe!

Republicans may be taking comfort in a 9% increase in political self identification this year. Don’t believe it! The folks who alter their self identification in short time frames are not a base upon which a program can be built or sustained. These folks are the vanguard of the “lesser of two evil” voters.

 The middle morphs and the middle is where the game is played. The current edition of the middle does not like what it sees, yet remains justifiably distrustful of Republicans. Self aware Republicans accept that the distrust is well earned and not easily brushed away. Republicans, absent a strong, demonstrable, cohesive set of ideas will be no more than a one election messenger. Absent a demonstration of ideas and leadership capabilities any degree of victory will be short lived. Leadership by definition requires a degree of courage and courage is born of convictions.

Political pros appear concerned with the potential for a 3rd party movement. 3rd Parties are well capable of delivering messages, not winning candidates. A 3rd Party movement focused on running candidates is doomed to failure with the likely assurance that what they organized to resist emerges as a more powerful force. However, a 3rd Party structured to be issue orientated and focused on demanding accountability from the two established parties could be an immensely powerful force. It is unlikely the current edition of the middle or the potential 3rd Party movements will move to the left as that appears to be where they just came from.

In 2000 78% of voters identified themselves as conservative or moderate, in 2010 the number is 76% according to Gallup; an undeniable demonstration of consistency. True believers on either side may be the fuel of the process but voters in the self described middle decide elections. The population of true believers remains relatively static: the middle is, however, fluid. Self identification of party still leaves over 10% of the population with no affiliation. Add the moderates in both parties and there you have it, a voting force capable of demanding accountability. Likely, no less than 35% of active voters potentially fall into this category. Seemingly, however you look at the data, you come up with a third of the electorate that refuses to commit to the shifting ideologies or behaviors of the major parties.

The message from the center could be that the constant shifts between left, right and center by the major parties is the fundamental basis for a common sense analysis that sets a third of the electorate off to the ideological sideline; searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe or, perhaps, courage of conviction, politics be damned!

  • Bill Hedges

    “Republicans appear to be counting on self destructive behavior from Democrats.”

    I disagree…

    I thought your article was well thought out and had highly provable conclusions. As in any such honest article, not all factors are entertained. There will be differing views as well.

    Opinions that challenge your outlined presentation as I understand it.

    I do agree:

    “There is no intellectually honest, analysis to demonstrate the slide in Democratic approval numbers supports the idea that Republicans are “doing well”.”

    I have proclaimed I wanted the Tea party movement integrated into the Republican party. I look at the Newt revolution as a evolution that went to the heart of the tea party.

    I see little that Newt’s revolution Republican party beliefs and today’s Tea party ideas would have any conflicting view points. Such a marriage I contend would establish Republican party as “doing well” and flourishing.

    I future contend that “Virginia and New Jersey ” victories was sign that union of Tea party and Republican party was heading in that direction. Though I can not prove.

    I heard Sarah Palin had been approached to the notion of a 3rd Tea political party during her book tour. As I remember she announced the challenges to such an undertaking were immense. Not a plausible solution in her estimation. If it did happen it would actually divide Republican votes helping the Democrats if their was a tea party candidate.

    This is why I have written they should join forces.

    I disagree:

    “A small number of politically motivated decisions by the President, moving issues toward the center for a brief rest stop will thwart that anemic approach”

    He may go to the center more. Little doubt in my opinion. He would do so out of fear. He still charges forward to pass health care even with record high national debt. A bill if passed does near nothing to extinguish health care problems now, it just adds direct and indirect cost to citizens for years without benefits.

    Since I believe Republican is changing back to its core values adding tea party member, surge in strength of blood will cure anemia illness.

    “A small number of politically motivated decisions ” will not erase the harm of obama’s passed agenda.

    Your “lesser of two evils” concept is erased if my concept comes to term. Even without, new generation of both parties candidates is bringing a new political world to America. Old ways are fading. Seems undeniable Dodds and Reid are fading fast. More to fall as well.

    Nancy appears safe though she should lose her Speaker position. Either way as elections occurs the old ‘Chicago style’ mentality House she has now will be voted out.

    America has seen the buying of votes and are disgusted. Look to Nebraska deal and their reaction as proof. Citizens are outraged even with their preferential treatment under the health care bill. That Senator now refuses it for just his State and wants all States to have it. That’s fear.

    “Republicans may be taking comfort in a 9% increase in political self identification this year. Don’t believe it! The folks who alter their self identification in short time frames are not a base upon which a program can be built or sustained. These folks are the vanguard of the “lesser of two evil” voters”

    You are right and I feel I have shown how it will be “substained.”

    The radial segment that voted obama into office has no where go but stay by his side. The polls show obama # 1 loser among Presidents since WW 2 in first year.

    Yes Republicans must win the votes and not get by default. I feel the movement of change is more than in the air, but is in progress.

    Point in fact, look to Scott Brown. Just one example of grounded Republican movement in the news now.

    Sarah was my first sign of the change leading to the next Newt type revolution. Even Newt and Steele are now working on the evolution.

  • Bill Hedges

    “Mr. K. opines that the Obama ascendency was, in large measure, a reaction against the previous administration, war weariness and the financial collapse during the final stages of the campaign. The logic is not especially tortured; all elections are framed by the context of what precedes them.”

    Perception. Not always right…

    I understand training pilots are told to go by their instrument panel at certain times instead of their senses.

    Perception can be wrong.

    So goes politics.

    In elections, unfortunately, the population voting vote according to what they perceive to be true, which may be terrible wrong.

    In “Obama: One Year Later, It’s Still Bush’s Fault” and comment “Bill Hedges Jan 10th, 2010 at 2:54 am”

    “Bush warned as well. In 2001,”

    What that was referring to was economic collapse. Bush was not alone. McCain speech is in video. Republicans tried to curb F/F and other financial institutes with more regulation. I know you hear Republicans wants less, but we’re talking facts here not propaganda. I believe the bill failed with 100% Democrat vote against more regulation. Is interesting video to watch. A Congressional committee hearing I think.

    In 8-9 years that bill should have averted economic collapse if it was passed.

    Point being Barney Frank and Democrats caused this financial collapse. Not Bush.

  • Babs

    Landreaux,

    I’m enjoying your commentaries very much here, keep them coming.

    Having been a democrat for years, then sliding to independence, and finally with the 2008 election a full fledged conservative, I still have high hopes for the republican party. I’m hoping that the status of no defined plan from the party simply means that we – as a whole – are not jumping to what sounds just politically correct at the moment. Common sense is the key to finding the solutions for America, and to step up and define a plan for correcting the current problems at this point would be just politics. We as a party have no power to implement any solutions until we can change the numbers in congress and the senate. What may be solution now could very well NOT be the solution at that junction. Obama’s not finished tearing down the country yet – where we have to start to clean up the mess depends on how low we go before we get the chance to reverse it. Make sense? I think that pretty much defines the attitudes of independents.

  • landreaux

    Babs,

    Thank you for the kind remarks. I agree that solutions change with changing circumstances. You make the best of all arguments for free market solutions, I further agree that common sense is the terrain where good solutions are found and is unfortunatly in short supply.

    Part of what frustrates me with Republicans is what I saw in Mike Pence’s town hall yesterday. He did well and answered questions respectfully and fully but not once did he say “folks there are big ideas that guide each party and we need to focus on that, big v. small goverment, free v. centrally managed markets and economies, etc.” Americans are so overwhelmed with the details that refocusing them on core ideas should be one of the dominating strategies.

    Anyway, I and I hope you as well keep faith that ultimatly Americans find their way to the right idea.

    Best

  • JD

    “To say that the future will be different from the present and past may be hopelessly self-evident.

    I must observe regretfully, however, that in politics it can be heresy. It can be denounced as radicalism or branded as subversion.

    There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed.

    It hardly seems necessary to point out in the United States, of all places, that change, although it involves risk, is the law of life.”

    (RFK – May 20, 1964).