Glenn Greenwald in Salon has penned an excellent article The baseless, and failed, “Move to the Center” cliche
Republican Nancy Johnson of Connecticut was first elected to Congress in 1982, and proceeded to win re-election 11 consecutive times, often quite easily. In 2004, she defeated her Democratic challenger by 22 points. The district is historically Republican, and split its vote 49-49 for Bush and Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
In 2006, Rep. Johnson was challenged by a 31-year-old Democrat, Chris Murphy, who ran on a platform of, among other things, ending the Iraq War, opposing Bush policies on eavesdropping and torture, and rejecting what he called the “false choice between war and civil liberties.” Johnson outspent her Democratic challenger by a couple million dollars, and based her campaign on fear-mongering ads focusing on Murphy’s opposition to warrantless eavesdropping, such as this one:
What happened in that race? Murphy had 56 percent to Johnson’s 44 percent.
He then goes on to point out the historically unique case of the ’06 election:
not a single Democratic incumbent in either the House or Senate — not one — lost an election.
Earlier this year, Bill Foster made opposition to the Iraq War a centerpiece of his campaign — and emphatically opposed both warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity — and then won a special election to replace Denny Hastert in his bright red Illinois district.
In other words, not only is the pre-meditated flip-flopping morally corrupt, but it’s politically stupid. It’s like our candidates have been brainwashed by Karl Rove:
The very idea that Bush/Cheney policies are the “center,” or that one must move towards their approach in order to succeed, ignores the extreme shifts in public opinion generally regarding how our country has been governed over the last seven years.
isn’t the perception that Obama is abandoning his own core beliefs — or, worse, that he has none — a much greater political danger than a failure to move to the so-called “Center” by suddenly adopting Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies?
What makes Democrats look weak is their patent fear of standing by their own views.
As he points out in his conclusion, this move to the center hurts the chances of our Democratic candidates.
The Democrats had such a smashing victory in 2006 because — for the first time in a long time, and really despite themselves — there was a perception (rightly or wrongly) that they actually stood for something different than the GOP in National Security (an end to the War in Iraq). Drawing a clear distinction with the deeply unpopular GOP is how Democrats look strong. The advice that they should “move to the center” and copy Republicans is guaranteed to make them look weak — because it is weak. It’s the definition of weakness.
It’s amazing to see candidates with a winning hand throw it away and try to position themselves as identical to their Republican opponents. It’s like they all want to say “look, I have the same failed ideas as my opponent, but I have a [D] after my name so pick me.”
So my question is, why on earth are they doing this?
Note to the Udall-ites, it’s not “all about Mark,” this is pointed at a lot of our candidates.