Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Moving The Lines
So it looks like the Bi-partisanship Forum out in Oklahoma didn't generate much buzz for a Mike Bloomberg independent presidential run. Apparently not even the attendees had much difficulty containing their enthusiasm. Scheduling it on the same day as the New Hampshire primary might not have helped much, either.
There's been a fair amount of disdain poured out on this meeting, especially from the left, and perhaps justifiably so. To the extent that forming tactical coalitions across party lines doesn't really offer any longterm stable mandate to govern, I agree.
What I question is why the line separating the parties is so indelibly fixed smack dab in the middle. The idea of a political left and right is the legacy of an arbitrary seating plan in the French Revolution-era National Assembly. And while American politics has historically been a two-party system, the faultlines within the two parties at times appear more pronounced than the historical center-line that supposedly divides them.
Admittedly, this is more so on the Republican side than on the Democratic, which probably explains the left's disdain for the idea of bi-partisanship. But it seems to me that centrist Democrats like Obama and Clinton have more in common with the moderate Republicans who would be left out in the cold by a potential Huckabee presidency than they do with the Daily Kos faction of the Democratic Party. Which would be the logical underpinning to the argument that instead of holding hands across the center line, it would be better to define a centrist party by its right- and left-most limits.
Maybe this is just a result of my expat lense and my distance from the actual political culture Stateside. But it's what I think Obama is talking about when he evokes a "new majority". Not just ending the bickering, but moving the lines.