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A center-right nation no more?

September 21, 2009 - Mike Maneval
President Barack Obama has been "very realistic" in developing the health care reform package, "more moderate than liberal" and willing to reach across party lines. The proposal now touted by moderate Democrat Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who chairs the finance committee, is "budget neutral" and will cut the deficit in the long run.

The words of a White House czar, too drunk on Obama Kool-Aid to know America is a center-right nation? A sycophantic member of the news establishment? A staff member for ACORN? No, the New York Times reports, these are the views of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, centrist from Maine.

Snowe, who favors a "trigger" approach under which a public option would only advance if the private sector continued to fall short under certain metrics, has shunted her party's talking points that the White House has locked out opposing views. While her support for the final package is, of course, as uncertain as the package itself, she is working with the majority in good faith - and for her trouble you can see the online communities at right-wing sites like and call her "stupid," "a dangerous old bat," and pejoratives for prostitute.

Perhaps the most common slur, though, is "RINO," an acronym for "Republican in Name Only." It is clearly not the worst, but it is the most telling and speaks to something to which I've just alluded, America's status as a center-right nation.

For much of the past fifty years, it's been fair to say America has been a center-right nation. I'd suggest this is no longer the case - not because "the right" is in decline. (I feel the right and left are vastly imperfect concepts to graft ideology over demographic divides anyway - a topic I've covered in the past - but I'll play along with the terms for this post.) No, the abdication of our center-right status stems from an increasing hostility within the conservative movement to anything or anyone lacking in "ideological" purity - an attitude which leaves no one for the center to work with other than the left.


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