Has the political middle all but died in Washington?
The Tea Party is forcing Republicans to lurch to the right. Left-wing groups are constantly harping on President Obama to pay more attention to their causes. The moderate Blue Dog Coalition in the Congress lost more than half of its members in the November midterm elections.
And now comes the news that the venerable Democratic Leadership Council, which served as the middle-of-the-road touchstone for a generation of centrist politicians, has all but closed up shop, suspending their dwindling operations — at least for now.
And yet, a growing number of outside groups are vying to fill the space that the leadership council occupied for more than two decades, betting that an appeal to moderation, rather than polarization, is the best way to win over fickle independent voters.
Third Way, a think tank formed five years ago by former staffers in President Bill Clinton’s administration, has become a constant presence in the Washington chatter, advocating for a return to the kind of pragmatic, a-little-bit-for-everyone kind of politics that Mr. Clinton, with the help of the leadership council, practiced in the 1990s.
And a coalition of big names from both parties has recently formed No Labels, a bipartisan group whose aim is to inspire a grass-roots movement to reject the extremes and get excited about moderation. Unlike Third Way, the No Labels founders are focused on communities outside of Washington.