David Frum offers the CW surrounding the potential defeat of incumbents in tomorrow’s elections:
We used to say that the far right and far left were the “tails that wagged the dogs.” Now, the dogs have disappeared, leaving only the violently flailing tails. As we wrote earlier in this space, the pull of both caucuses in Congress is toward the poles of policy, not toward a constructive center. Both parties find themselves intimidated by their “bases,” those partisans who show up to vote no matter what and who tolerate little short of hair-shirt orthodoxy.
“Centrism”has long been the the tag that corporatists like to affix to their morally inert brand of politics. “For sale” might be a better label. The only thing they stand in the center of is K-Street. Idealists on both ends of the political spectrum inspire voter loyalty, whereas Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln inspire lobbyists to write big checks in exchange for their votes.
Both conservatives and liberals may have different narratives to explain the moral flexibility of these “centrists,” but each understands the havoc that they wreck on our political system. When Alan Grayson, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders came together to say “enough” and demand the Federal Reserve be audited, sensible “centrists” Judd Gregg, Claire McCaskill and Kay Hagan rushed in to cover for the banks. Nobody needs Schoolhouse Rock to explain to them what that meant.
Republicans kicked Arlen Specter out of the party, and now Democrats are doing the same. If it were simply a matter of pleasing the “base,” as Frum says, then Specter’s more conservative nature should be more appealing to the general populace than Sestak’s. But that’s not the case. Sestak is outperforming Specter against Toomey.
As Jon Walker notes, the same is true in Arkansas, where Bill Halter outperforms Blanche Lincoln against Republican John Boozman. But it doesn’t appear to be simply a function of anti-incumbency. In Kentucky, the more liberal Jack Conway does better than so-called “centrist” Dan Mongiardo against likely GOP nominee Rand Paul in a November matchup.
The public has had a belly full of insider-ism and kowtowing to corporate interests. The “purge” is not something being carried out by extremists in each party against poor, reasonable centrists. These politicians are in fact the true radicals, who have been forcing the country onto its knees before oligarchical robber barons for their own personal profit. And their radicalism has been so extreme that it has brought right and left together to give them the bum’s rush.