Tuesday, April 30, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: What Does The Center Hold?

The two major political parties are in the process of

eliminating ideological diversity among their own

elected officials, and this is becoming a self-defeating

factor in today’s national politics.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the U.S. Senate

where only a few years ago both parties had major

figures who held differing views, especially on social

issues such as abortion and guns.

This diversity promoted civility and good faith discussion

between the two parties, and made possible negotiation

and compromises which resulted in the passage of a wide

range of legislation.

Civility, negotiation and compromise hardly exists today

in the Congress, and among senators in particular.

The few “moderate” Democrats and Republicans in the

Senate today are about to be even fewer in number.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Senator Kyrstin 

 of Arizona, and Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, each 

original Democrats, and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah,

a Republican, are retiring. Each of them will likely be

replaced with someone of the other party or someone

more ideological of their party.

This leaves almost no true moderates among Democrats,

and only Senator Susan Colline of Maine and Senator

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as the only true moderates

among Republicans,, One independent, Senator Angus 

King of Maine is also a moderate. (A number of other

senators like to label themselves as moderate or

bipartisan, but rarely actually vote outside their party


Only one moderate in either party is running for the

Senate this cycle —- former Maryland Governor Larry

Hogan of Maryland, a Republican. His state votes

overwhelmingly Democrat, but Hogan was a very

popular governor, GOP senate campaign chair,

Senator Steve Daines of Montana was smart enough

to recruit Hogan, and head off criticism of him by

conservatives. Hogan now has a double digit lead

in a state in which the Democrat nominee for

president will likely carry by 30 points!.

In fact it was Democrat Mike Mansfield, the senate

majority leader from Montana, who last led a senate

(1961-77) with many moderates on both sides, and

was known for his bipartisanship.

With public opinion holding Congress in low regard.

the deep partisan divide of many party officials and

activists —- and the lack of legislative accomplishment

--- can be cited as a major cause of congressional


But progressive Democrats and conservative 

Republicans are locked into an historic confrontation

in the 2024 national election cycle with its controversial

putative presidential nominees. There seems to be little

space in such a political environment for moderation,

compromise and civility.


Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved