Back in 1960, the presidential race was fought between two men of nearly identical ages, and with virtually identical values–to the point where the Democrat’s Senator Kennedy, the nominal liberal in the race, campaigned to the right of moderate Republican Senator Nixon, via the famous (and imaginary) “missile gap”. Kennedy squeaked through, largely on his personality and appearance (youthful viggah!), not because his political ideology captivated voters.
But that period of centrism is gone–if not forever, certainly for the foreseeable future: “The Democrats have abolished the middle, and the Republican middle has discredited itself”, Dan Henninger writes:
Many candidates in the off-year election this November will still try to hide from ideology. That will be hard. In his State of the Union message Mr. Bush said, “We’ve entered a great ideological conflict.” His is unavoidably a wartime presidency, and with no respite from politics. There was a time when politics stopped at the water’s edge. In our time the Web Democrats’ search for an ideology ensures that the president’s every move will be subject to challenge. The fact that they’re fighting the Bush surveillance policy on hapless legal grounds rather than separation of powers suggests it may take until 2008 to make the primal Web scream ideologically coherent.
People who crave the middle are simply going to be disappointed in 2008. The Democrats have abolished the middle, and the Republican middle has discredited itself. There is a reason John McCain markets himself as more right than center; he knows ideology matters just now. So do George Allen, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback and the rest.
How Hillary Clinton triangulates in the current atmosphere is the Rubik’s Cube of our time. But for the Web Democrats and GOP refugees from the Congress they thought they controlled, the puzzling is over. They’re looking for candidates “who represent my ideas.” Ideologues.
Read the rest.