In the Arena

Election 2011: A Victory for the Silent Majority

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Rochester, Michigan

I’m out here for the deathless drama and schoolyard hijinks that attend each and every Republican debate and, wandering the spin room, I came upon NBC’s Chuck Todd who made a very good–and sort of flattering–political point: last night’s election results reaffirmed the mood that I encountered on my recent road trip. It was a victory for the sensible center.

Now, I know that assorted progressives are crowing about the defeat of Mississippi’s attempt to pass an excessive anti-abortion law, and the defeat of Ohio’s attempt to pass an excessive anti-union law, and the successful recall of Arizona’s excessively anti-immigrant Senator Russell Pearce, and dozens of anti-excessive local results around the country. That’s to be expected and it’s justified: the far right lost big last night. But I’m not convinced that this is good news for the left.

A more moderate anti-abortion law might have passed in Mississippi; in Ohio, people didn’t want the public employee unions busted, but I’m not sure they want to continue funding gold-plated union pension plans or allowing work rules that prevent school reform; in Arizona, as in much of the rest of the country, there are mixed feelings about the (waning) tide of illegal immigration.

In sum, I would suspect that we’ve gone about as far right on those issues as we can go. It will be interesting to see whether the Republicans clotting the stage at Oakland University will get this message. The day of the screamers is passing. It’s time for pragmatism, compromise and sanity to regain its place at the heart of the American political system.