A bid to build centrism in US politics
June 21, 2007 § Leave a comment
Looking at efforts to reach a “centrist” politics. I’ve argued (GardenWorld draft) that there is majority view , but it is not the average or a compromise between the two party positions. the real majority view lies off to the side so to speak, because both parties are in agreement about maintaining the centrality of current power and profit.
Bloomberg and Schwartznegger from the two sides of the country are making an effort to break through. Dan Wood is looking at the effort.
First up was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, delivering a scathing admonition: “The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralyzed decisionmaking,” he told a group of some 200 national politicos and guests. We can turn around … our wrongheaded course, if we start basing our actions on ideas [and] shared values … without regard to party.”
The next day, his partner in taking to task the political climate, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), echoed: “There really is no more urgent issue facing America today than … bridging the political divide.”
Others, such as Mayor Bloomberg – the former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent – call it simply “nonpartisan leadership.” The emphasis is on ideas over ideology, building trust instead of enmity with opposing politicians, embracing innovation with more regard to citizens than to which party thought of it first – or who gets credit. The idea also plays into the yearning of an increasingly frustrated voting public for another principle: Get it done.
Bloomberg, too, has reversed a dreadful job-approval rating, below 20 percent. After a series of get-it-done initiatives – from a crackdown on illegal guns to bans on smoking and trans-fats to affordable housing initiatives – his rating is now in the 70s.
The New York mayor and the California governor are hammering a note that resonates with the public. Seventy-five percent like leaders who are willing to compromise, and 60 percent like leaders whose positions are a mix of liberal and conservative, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington.
The best records of reach-across-the-aisle politicians have been at state and local levels, many experts say. Schwarzenegger has been leading the pack. After several stumbles in his first two years, he appointed a Democrat as his chief of staff last year. He has since made headlines with global warming and healthcare initiatives, prison reform, and a state infrastructure overhaul.
One reason postpartisan ideas have a harder time gaining currency nationally is that those who vote in nominating primaries are more liberal or conservative than the general voting public. Eventual nominees feel beholden to those who get them to office.
“I would argue that many of the likely party nominees for president – especially Hillary Clinton – are almost certain to continue the deep partisan divide that has characterized America through the Clinton and Bush terms,” says Larry Sabato, political scientist at the University of Virginia.
“But when these unifying governors run for president (like the cases of Clinton and Bush), they have to take stands in the culture wars and on matters of war and peace.”
What strikes me is the lack of content. It really is compromise politics around the most pubic issues, but not dealing with the problems the public is most concerned about: jobs, the American position in the world, or the nature of financial capitalism. the future of the economy and the distribution of profit and pain will be central, but not centrally dealt with.
One can see that the Bloomberg – Schwartenegger kind of bipartisanship is the attempt t hold together this economy in the face of mounting failure and criticism – not to change the rules or outcomes significantly.