The Center Gets Shafted, the 'Base' Rules

DC stuck in neutral because no one 'governs from the center'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 25, 2010 3:01 PM CDT
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with a bi-partisan Congressional leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Newser) – The US itself isn’t becoming more “polarized”—proportions of conservatives, moderates, and liberals remain at about 1992 levels—but policymaking is. Why? Robert Samuelson outlines four reasons for RealClearPolitics:

  1. Politicians are leaning more on “activist ‘bases’” for votes and cash ... which often results in them offending the center.
  2. We’ve moved from debating policy to arguing morality.“Opponents are not just mistaken; they're immoral. They're cast as evil, ignorant, dangerous.”
  3. Politics has increasingly become entertainment, meaning conflict is good.

  1. Politicians “overpromise,” then blame the other party for failures.
"The impulse is not to govern from the center, which still represents most Americans, but from 'the base.'" Liberal and conservative bases become pissed because their "radical or unrealistic" agendas don't come to pass; the center becomes pissed because the bases' power stonewalls action on long-standing issues like budgets and energy. The result, Samuelson notes, “is mass discontent.” Will the upcoming elections fix the stalemate? Not likely.

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