Why Doesn’t Congress Lead From the Middle? November 15, 2006Posted by Unreasonable in Matters Democratic, Matters Political.
On today’s Diane Rehm Show Andrea Seabrook asked a question I’ve been wondering about: “When will Congress learn to lead from the middle?”
I’m not sure which of her guests answered it (they may have all contributed), but here’s their collective answer:
Party politics is driven by activists. Only 10-15% of voters turn out for primary elections, and they tend to be the extreme activists in each party. Therefore, a candidate needs to appeal to the far left or right to be successful in the primaries.
90% of incumbents are reelected (including this time), but still the main concern to incumbents is being unseated in the next primary by a more radical candidate from their own party.
The best place to get run down by a car is by standing in the middle of the road.
When one party takes the majority from the other, the moderates are the losers. They are replaced by moderates from the other party. The leadership of each party usually remains intact, and they tend to be the radicals. The leaders are constantly trying to balance satisfying the base to win primaries and keep a majority with satisfying the rest of us for general elections.