Pool of Moderates in Congress Is Shrinking – NYTimes.com

The implication of this trend? Americans may want to check the power of their Congress but this division makes the types of compromises necessary for any agreement even more unlikely–with extremes on both sides dominating even more:

“We don’t have a Congress anymore, we have a parliament,” said Representative Jim Cooper of Tennessee, one of the last Blue Dogs. “We moderates are an endangered species, but we are also a necessary ingredient for any problem solving.”

The House is more polarized than at any time in the last century, according to models built by Keith Poole, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, and Howard Rosenthal, professor emeritus of social sciences at Princeton. The last time the Senate was this divided, according to the joint research, was a century ago.

While Americans say they want an end to partisan bickering in Washington, Mr. Cooper said, they vote to maintain the system that has created it. “It’s like Hollywood movies,” he said. “Most people say there is too much violence and sex, but those are the only tickets that sell.”

via Pool of Moderates in Congress Is Shrinking – NYTimes.com.


5 thoughts on “Pool of Moderates in Congress Is Shrinking – NYTimes.com”

  1. Is this not a natural consequence of how elections are run (specifically primaries)? Although the political leanings of the populace may more or less follow a bell curve, those who determine the nominees from the various political parties most certainly are not. As the parties and their candidates further distance themselves from middle-ground so as to appear more “Republican” or “Democratic,” each party winds up with more outward-leaning positions.

    The result after primaries is often a rush to the middle. You won’t see Romney today touting the fact that he’ll repeal Obamacare on day one of being president with the same vim and vigor that you saw it last year, and this is a natural consequence of trying to win the votes of a completely different electorate.

    Some loosely oriented groups of people also exhibit a lto of sway over certain parties. The Tea Party, for example, wasn’t necessarily a cross section of the Republican leadership, but it made its voice heard and was unapologetic and organized, where more centrist Republicans had no cause to unite behind and be unwilling to compromise. The result is an even-further-right-leaning Republican party. What isn’t noted in this, however, as that the Republican party may be alienating some of its base in doing so. http://pewresearch.org/databank/dailynumber/?NumberID=757

  2. I find it ironic how almost every American respects and looks to Geoge Washington as an idol but they continue to ignore one of this clearest viewpoints concerning the nation. I don’t have it word for word, but he said that political parties would be one of the worst things that could happen to the nation.
    Both parties are getting farther away from each other. Neither republican nor democratic parties are innocent when it comes to the growing gap between them. I think that moderates are being scared into saying they are more radical than they really are.

  3. This article is very interesting, especially in light of two other reports that also highlight the dividedness of our country. One Pew report from August 2012 suggests that our country is more polarized now than at any point in the last 25 years since the report began in 1987. It is important to note the there has been a surge during the Bush Obama views.
    The second report is about the polarization of America on social issues pointing particularly to increase inequality. The doomsday story behind these reports is that of either massive disillusionment by citizens all the way to civil war.


  4. I agree with the earlier comment–a partisan congress is a natural byproduct of the election process. It seems like in order to gain a strong base of ardent supporters and secure the nomination, candidates have to take a firm stance on specific issues. After politicians have gotten their main base of support rallying around them, then they tackle the challenge of reaching out to the independents and undecideds. They may able to rein in support from these groups, but once they get into congress they have to continue pleasing their strong base if they want to get reelected. I think this is what creates the stark division between congress members.

    The polarization may create issues since it could make it harder for legislation to be passed and agreed on by congress members, but it also is beneficial for the election process because it helps gives people an incentive to vote: if there’s someone who you think will stand up for your beliefs and values in congress, you’re more likely to make an effort to vote for them. I think it’s part of the legislative process that we have to learn to adapt to, even if it’s difficult at times.

    Here’s an article about the polarization of congress: http://prospect.org/article/how-congress-became-polarized-0

  5. Yes, Preisdent Washington warned against political parties, but they really are the natural result of our election system. We hate them, we love them, they are here. The problem Madison tried to avoid and warned against is what causes parties, factions. Every faction wants its way, so coalitions are formed and eventually, everything reduces to a simple majority, or two parties. This is called Duverger’s law. Sadly this seems to slowly be killing our moderate pool. More people claim to be independent and less people actually are as both parties continue to vie for votes.


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