challenges readers to determine what this passage, in this month's issue of The Atlantic
, says about the gap in common understanding of the political spectrum:
On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.
First, the author seems to think potential abortion-clinic-bombing religious conservatives number as many on the right as the rioting nihilists do on the left - something (without checking any statistics) I find improbable, if for no other reason than that they'd be the focus of a 24/7 media frenzy over "Christian terrorists" if it were true. That theme rarely exists in the MSM (to their chagrin, I'm sure), and is muted at best when it does, due to the thankful rarity of pro-lifers so obsessive as to murder.
Second, moderates have been marginalized in the GOP? Really? I seem to remember some fairly well-known moderates
being visibly embraced
at last year's convention; the only real red-meat pandering to the base (and I loved it, thank you very much, but wouldn't have wanted the entire convention to be rhetoric that fiery) was by a Democrat, Zell Miller. Conversely, the DNC showcased largely liberals feigning moderate status, and visibly embraced the angry left in the person of Michael Moore. The Democratic Party is the only one where tame centrists are being marginalized at the moment.
What ails the Democrats is terminal smugness, a disease the party in currently suffering in the final stages. They know they used to be a national majority party, and therefore expect that that's the natural order of things; policies have little if anything to do with the political calculus in this warped understanding. Support from the centre is a given - or so the national leadership thinks - so all that's left is to slurp up the fringe vote, that would either abstain or favour a third party. This disconnect, of failing to understand that the centre is aware of pandering to the fringe (and, more often than not, isn't all that comfortable with it) is the problem.
Republicans suffer less from this by fighting hard for every vote, and allowing for looser demands of ideology. A big-tent party will win more frequently despite
the fringe not agreeing with the centre on every issue; agreeing on the big issues is enough, and others can be matters of personal conscience rather than explicit demands of policy loyalty. The liberal fringe doesn't even agree with the Democratic (or non-aligned) centre on what America should look like, let alone what form the world at large should take. That self-proclaimed Democratic moderates or their publications don't realize what poison the angry left is for their electoral chances doesn't bode well for their continued survival.