E.J. Dionne on the Rising Radical Center

E.J. Dionne writes that the attempt of the Republicans to rule from the right is likely to be replaced by Democrats who are more likely to govern from the middle:

This incipient Democratic alliance, while tilting slightly leftward, would plant its foundations firmly in the middle of the road, because its success depends on overwhelming support from moderate voters. That’s why a Democratic victory in November — defined as taking one or both houses of Congress — would have effects far beyond a single election year.

The Democrats’ dependence on moderate voters and moderate candidates belies Republican claims that a Democratic victory would bring radically liberal politics to Washington. In fact, the first imperative of Democratic congressional leaders, if their party is successful, will be finding policies, ideas and rhetoric to allow the party’s progressives and moderates to get along and govern effectively together.

The strategy pursued by Bush and Karl Rove has frightened most of the political center into the arms of Democrats. Bush and Rove sought victory by building large turnouts among conservatives and cajoling just enough moderates the Republicans’ way. But this approach created what may prove to be a fatal political disconnect: Adventurous policies designed to create enthusiasm on the right turned off a large number of less ideological voters.

The Democrats’ lead in the polls can be thus explained by two factors: the energy of a passionate phalanx of voters desperate to use this election to rebuke Bush, and the disenchantment of moderates fed up with the failures of Bush’s governing style and ideology, notably in Iraq.

It worked for a while, but it was inevitable that the Republicans strategy of governing from the far right and counting on winning a narrow majority could not work forever.

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