Moderates used to be cool. Now they're so 1986. And if they're considered old-fashioned now, they might be extinct in a few more years. Could a Bill Clinton circa 1992 win a Democratic primary today? Could a 1988 George H.W. Bush win a Republican one? Not only are poor moderates on the endangered list in America, those hunting them are still filling tags.
For the most recent example, newly elected Democrat darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put moderates in her crosshairs, figuratively speaking. (It's hard to get a gun legally in New York.) The New York Post reported that she was part of a recent closed-door crackdown on moderate House Democrats. Here's more from The Post:
"Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among House Democrats who laced into moderates Thursday — threatening to run those who side with Republicans out of office in the 2020 primaries."
The political consultants call that "being primaried," as they so often use nouns as verbs.
Some in her party tried to reason with AOC by informing her that there are places in America that aren't New York City. The stories don't say how she took that news.
We remember, fondly, the Blue Dog Democrats, including a congressman representing the state of Arkansas, a pharmacy owner named Mike Ross, of the Prescott, Arkansas, Rosses. He remained a loyal Democrat his entire political career, but remained conservative on many issues, and took those values to Washington with him. He was good for his party. Just as liberal Republicans were — emphasis on "were" — good for their party.
Remember when liberals in the Republican Party were pushing through civil rights bills? And remember when conservatives in the Democratic Party were insisting on a strong defense? Once upon a time, the two major political parties in this country weren't so polarized that they couldn't mix and match. And that was a good thing. Better to have conservatives and liberals in each party, because that way lies compromise — the good kind — and America's business got done in the nation's capital.
The other way lies what the country has today: parties on opposite sides of a wide political gulf, and acting as if any show of good will toward the other is treason. With fire-eaters like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez willing to throw members of her own party into the abyss. (Where have you gone, Zell Miller?)
It reminds us of what a former member of Congress had to say when he announced his retirement. His name was Dennis Cardoza, and he was a U.S. representative from California. And a Democrat in good standing. In the press release announcing his retirement, he said this, in part:
"As a leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, I am also disappointed by the broadcast media's general lack of attention to moderate members of Congress, and their failure to recognize those members of all ideologies who work together to build consensus and solve problems. The constant focus on 'screamers' and the 'horse race' of elections is smothering useful discourse and meaningful debate of public policy. This, in turn, is fueling the increasingly harsh tone in American politics. My experience tells me that those who shout the loudest, and give the most speeches, have the fewest good solutions for America's challenges."
He said that in 2011.
Democrats used to brag about being the "big tent" party. It was no organized political party, it was Will Rogers' party. Now it's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's party. Or will be if she's able to whittle it down to the true believers. That is, the true believers who meet every item on AOC's checklist.
Whatever the reason for Blue Dogs becoming an endangered species on the Potomac, it's sad. As sad as the disappearance of Republicans who could afford to talk sense about immigration or other hot-button issues. That way lies an even deeper divide in this country and more of the games you could read all about in last week's papers.
If those weren't enough to drive you to distraction, then you've got the politics bug, which has been known to make even healthy people apoplectic and itchy. If you've got this particular rash, Dr. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will see you now.