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SENTRY JOURNAL » Centrist, Earl Pomeroy, Elections, Obama » The Centrist

The Centrist

Caught between conservative and liberal political ideology is a creature called the centrist.  The centrist is one that finds comfort in the middle of the political spectrum.  They have been labeled as Blue Dogs, RHINOS, Independents, Moderates, and Fence Sitters.  They steer clear of the far left and right and are bi-partisan in nature.  They are tired of the political games in Washington and believe that the best solutions come from both sides of the isle.  Both parties can’t stand them, yet both need them to win.  They are nomadic wanderers in a political desert, searching for a place to call home.  So why is it so important to understand them and the role they play in today’s political landscape?  The simple answer is because centrism sells.

During this last election we observed both candidates playing to the center by sounding moderate at times. Masterfully they shifted their words at the appropriate moment to sound very middle of the road.  For one candidate, this totally contradicted his far left position on many issues.  For the other his words only validated his conservative base’s belief that he was too far to the left to be elected.  The pundits offered their experts analysis claiming neither would win unless they captured the independents.  At one point the candidates had slid so far to the center that they actually had to emphasize the areas they differed on in regards to the issues. Talk about smoke and mirrors.  I believe this was also why there were so many undecided voters for such a long period of time.  Voters were unsure where the candidates stood on anything and confusion canvassed the entire process.  Even I a conservative felt like there was really no difference between the two candidates.
What happened though was far less complicated.  They realized that the political machines that carried them through their own party primaries were not enough to carry them through a national election.  They needed those darn centrists to win.  So they moved to the center from their own party base and spoke the language of the centrist.  They campaigned on tax cuts, strong defense, and deficit reduction.  They talked about the middle class and how they both understood our plight.  They peddled their theories on job creation and economic recovery as we watched their extreme ideologies melt away and vanish before our very eyes.  The centrists couldn’t get enough of it and gobbled up every word they spewed out.  Soon all that mattered was which candidate conveyed their message in the most articulate manner and looked more Presidential.

This is how we elected a President with far left tendencies and now all seem so surprised by his radical agenda.  You see he strategically shifted his words at the right moment in time to sound like a centrist.  And he’ll do it again in the future.  The fact is many candidates do this.  The centrist and some moderate conservatives fall for this trick each time because they cling to a dream of a candidate that represents their moderate views.  There are many elected officials with liberal voting records that play the pretend to be a centrist game very well.  They represent “red states” where their constituents are mostly made up people with conservative values.  Two states that come to mind are North and South Dakota. Both of these states are ranked in the top 10 gallup poll of conservative states.  Representative Earl Pomeroy(D) from North Dakota and Representative Stephanie Sandlin Herseth(D) are members of the Blue Dog Coalition; BlueDogs a group of 52 self-proclaimed fiscally conservative Democrats that embrace a moderate political ideology.  Both carried their conservative states by more than a 30% margin in the 2008 elections.

However, when I researched how often they voted with their big spending liberal party I was absolutely stunned.  Stephanie Sandlin Herseth, the “Blue Dog” she is, voted with the Democrats 93.7% washingtonpost.com of the time.  Earl Pomeroy, that rock solid fiscal conservative, voted with the Democrats a whopping 97.7% washingtonpost.com to include a $1 trillion plus healthcare bill.  So clearly their voting records indicate that they are not really centrist but extremely liberal.  How is it that they get re-elected every year with such a liberal voting record.  Well the answer is very simple and in two parts.

First, they both bring home the bacon to their respective states.  In 2008, Earl Pomeroy assisted in garnering over $60 million pigbook2008_database in pork barrel projects for North Dakota.  In that same year, Stephanie Sandlin Herseth helped herself to over $33 million pigbook2008_database of taxpayer dollars for South Dakota.  Not bad for two of the least populated states in the Union.  Additionally they play the role of a centrist very well and vote nay on a few liberal bills and yea on a few conservative bills.  This provides them with good campaign talking points when running for re-election.  The good people of these states are enticed by their centrist language and the taxpayer dollars they bring home.  They believe their centrist/conservative values are being represented buy center-right politicians making it a win-win situation. So it becomes easy to vote for the pretend centrist.

Unfortunately the truth is much harder to deal with than the fantasy of believing your elected officials actually hold the same values as you.  The fact is the centrists are duped every election because the choices they are given come from political parties with distinct platforms and agendas.  These parties play to these middle voters because they need them to win.  They tell them what they want to hear to get elected.  So what can a centrist do?

My mother always told me to never judge a book by its cover.  You need to read the book to be able to make a fair assessment of its worth.  The same concept holds true for politicians.  The cover is what they say and promise.  The book is how they vote.  And like reading a book, it will require a little investment of your time.  Research how they voted on the issues and if their votes represent your values.  If the promises made sound too good to be true, well they probably are.  Be skeptical of anyone that claims they know what you’re going through and has a plan to help.  Don’t be suckered in by centrist language and the promise of a new day.  A new day is not always a great day.  And lastly, stop compromising your principles for pork.  In my opinion pork is nothing more than a bribe to gain your vote and I believe that is the most insulting act a politician can commit.

We’re not that shallow or at least I hope we’re not.

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Filed under: Centrist, Earl Pomeroy, Elections, Obama

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