To me, a political spectrum exists that travels five degrees to the left and the same distance to the right. The players at the extreme polar ends (the Fives) make the largest amount of enthusiastic noise but they might not have the largest numbers. The Centrists (Zeros, Ones and Twos) are the quiet majority of Americans.
Plot Some Players
President Obama Left Two
Senator McCain Right Two
Senator Chambliss Right Four
Senator Isakson Right Four
Rep. Kingston Right Three
Rep. Bishop Left One
Rep. Marshall Right One
Rep. Barrow Zero or Center
Rep. Lewis Left Four
Rep. Scott Left Two
Rep. Westmoreland Right Five
Rep. Deal Right Four
Rep. Broun Right Five
If a House District contains voters who are collectively Zeros, Ones and Twos, why run candidates who are Fours and Fives? Obviously, bringing more new voters into the base is the desire. However, an incumbent or new candidate could seek support from voters who are slightly over and near the center. For example, Georgia’s 8th and 12th congressional districts elected Blue Dog Democrats who are comfortable with many conservative elements. In recent election cycles, the GOP candidates in these two districts were Right Fours who sought to characterize the incumbents as liberal Democrats.
While Reps. Marshall and Barrow voted for Left Four Nancy Pelosi for House speaker and indirectly endorsed other Left Fours as powerful committee chairs, the GOP produced opponents who could not win in centrist districts. Why not admit that Right Twos and Threes should be cultivated and accepted by the GOP for certain districts?
Before 1992, moderates dominated the Georgia congressional delegation. These members had to balance the political desires of the entire spectrum—delicately. The post-1990 census redistricting maps created federally mandated Black-friendly districts but therefore made the neighboring districts so conservative that Republicans could be elected who sometimes ignored their Democrat constituents under directions from the conservative movement leaders.
Of course, all politics is local and Rep. Kingston and Rep. Bishop perfected the art of using regional interests, field staff and personal contact to garner support across the spectrum. These two representatives relish walking into meetings with voters who disagree with them to listen and debate policy decisions.
The liberals in the Democrat party learned to peacefully exist with the Blue Dogs Democrats and together they produced the numbers to take the Congress and the White House. Because the GOP is less flexible, southern moderates and centrists are rare in their party. Young and energetic Sarah Palin-types had better be Right Fours and Right Fives.
The core principles of conservatism appeals to Black moderate and centrist Georgia voters because Reps. Marshall, Barrow, Bishop and Scott win regularly. Michael Steele’s blueprint for GOP party change outlines a new openness to diversity. I am not confident this plan will work because Steele is talking acceptance of Right Ones and Right Twos while the grassroots of the GOP is thinking repent from your centrist sins and move far enough right to be suitable for their party.