Where Have all the Moderates Gone?

Posted on October 4, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

When Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced in February that she would retire from the Senate, she cited the toxic political atmosphere in Washington as a big reason for her decision to leave.

“The sensible center has now virtually disappeared,” she said. Her departure in January, like that of other political moderates, makes the center that much more of a lonely place on Capitol Hill.

Where have you gone Bob Michel? Michel, the famously moderate former House GOP leader from Illinois, told The Nation recently that centrist thinking and bipartisanship are vanishing traits in political Washington.

“You have to have the ability to go to the other side of the aisle and get the votes. You don’t condemn the other side. You treat them with respect because one day, you may want them to join you on a critical vote,” he said.

With a bitterly divided Congress and the agenda being driven by the extremes, capturing the attention of lawmakers is more critical than ever. As lobbyists, we know this better than anyone.

Joining Snowe on the congressional exit ramp are Senate moderates from both parties including Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

On the House side, moderates from both parties are retiring or being threatened by challenges from more extreme partisans. One of the soon-to-be retirees, Rep. Steve LaTourette  (R-Ohio), announced his retirement and like Snowe, took a parting shot at the super-heated partisan atmosphere on the Hill.

“Words like compromise have been like dirty words,” he said.

While there are extremes on both sides of the aisle to be sure, it is the replacement of moderate Republicans with uncompromising Tea Party conservatives that is leading the threat to the political middle.

Once a small coalition of conservatives, today’s Tea party has emerged as a political movement to be reckoned with. And with one of their own, Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, on the national ticket as Mitt Romney’s running mate, the Tea Party is poised to gather even more clout in next month’s elections.

How much power the Tea Party wields on the Hill could depend in large part on the coat tails of the eventual White House winner.

But either way, political moderates will remain on the endangered list, meaning less bipartisanship and, surely, fewer legislative accomplishments when the 113th Congress convenes.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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One Response to “Where Have all the Moderates Gone?”

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The greatest threat is from Tea Party conservatives?? Are our kidding? Are you deaf to the vitriol coming from extreme progressives on the other side of the aisle? Nice try in appearing to take a balanced approach. You only contribute to the divisiveness when you take an easy (and disingenuous) potshot. There are line-in-the-sand partisans on BOTH sides of the aisle. I’m a conservative and can admit that. The only solution will be to find elements of a common vision that are compelling enough to persuase hyper-partisons to cross the aisle.


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