Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, Stuck in the middle with votes… If I just gave you an ear-worm by using lyrics from on old Stealer’s Wheel song, I apologize. But the words were so fitting for the subject matter of today’s top story on Donkey Digest. Calls are coming from various Republican writers and others for the GOP to create their own version of the Democratic Leadership Council because, they’ve suddenly realized, the center is where the votes are.
First stop, The New York Times, where writer David Brooks mentions in passing that the Republicans need their own centrist think tank like the DLC – a Republican Leadership Council. Unfortunately, the article is pay-per-view, so I’ll rely on Paul Silver at The Moderate Voice for a summary:
To me David Brooks of the NYTimes is the most prominent writer in America on right of center Centrism. He comments here about how the Republican Party has lost its way, and along with it, moderate conservatives. But the GOP can get them back by getting back to basics and proposing centrist policies which he lists in the article.
In passing he suggests that members of the GOP form a Republican Leadership Council along the same lines as the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC gave a home to Moderate Democrats, and provided a spring board for Bill Clinton and more recently Rahm Emanuel who helped engineer the Congressional takeover by recruiting moderate and conservative Democratic candidates.
Next up, an editorial in the Times Union detailing ways Republicans can woo back independent and centrist voters. Among the suggestions are support stem cell research, promote economic opportunities for the middle class, and create a centrist policy think tank – like the DLC!
In the realm of ideas, Democrats own the center. Moderate Democrats have the Democratic Leadership Council, the Third Way and various cells within the Brookings Institution, such as the Hamilton Project. Republican moderates are intellectual weaklings. They have no independent identity, so it’s no wonder centrist voters prefer Democrats on one domestic issue after another.
Finally, we have Chester Finn from National Review Online who wonders aloud, “where will tomorrow’s (Republican) ideas come from?”
When the Democrats ran out of ideas and tilted toward their own extremists, some wise folks started the Democratic Leadership Council, a charter member of which was Bill Clinton, the most successful (despite his character flaws) Democratic politician of my adult life. Where is its Republican equivalent? Who will lead it? Shouldn’t we be addressing those questions before the 2008 primaries begin?
Of course, the delicious irony in all this is the think tank chartered and made successful by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and a host of other Democrats the Republican party seems to abhor is now worthy of emulation. Further, coming into work this morning, the guest host on the conservative radio program The Bill Bennett Show was pushing a new “conservative coalition” in which all the various factions of the conservative movement come together to form one big voting block (sounds like the New Deal coalition that dominated American politics into the 1960s.)
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” Confucius