The great centrist swindle | Arkansas Blog

The great centrist swindle

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Sharp column by Frank Rich, taking off from the new "No Labels" initiative, on the manifest shortcomings of the idea that what Washington needs is a little more centrist bipartisanship and civility. Some select observations:

* The notion that civility and nominal bipartisanship would accomplish any of the heavy lifting required to rebuild America is childish magical thinking, and, worse, a mindless distraction from the real work before the nation. Sure, it would be swell if rhetorical peace broke out in Washington — or on cable news networks — but given that American politics have been rancorous since Boston’s original Tea Party, wishing will not make it so.

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* Beltway conventional wisdom is equally responsible for another myth promoted by No Labels: that the Move On left and the Tea Party right are equal contributors to America’s “hyperpartisanship.” In the real world, no one could seriously believe that activists on the left have the sway over Democratic leaders, starting with President Obama, that the Tea Party has over the G.O.P. Nor, with all due respect to MSNBC, does the left have a media megaphone to match the Tea Party’s alliance with the Murdoch empire, as led by Fox News, and the megastars of talk radio.

Besides, polls consistently show that hyperpartisanship is more prevalent among Republican voters than Democrats.

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* Yet what’s most disturbing about No Labels is that its centrist, no doubt well-intentioned leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us. Indeed, No Labels itself is another manifestation of this syndrome.

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* What America needs is not another political organization with a toothless agenda and less-than-transparent finances. The country will not rest easy until there are brave leaders in both parties willing to reform the system that let perpetrators of the Great Recession escape while the rest of us got stuck with the wreckage.

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