The Revolt of the Center?

The Revolt of the Center? May 8, 2024

Both Republicans and Democrats have been in thrall to their more extreme members, letting the far right and the far left set their agendas.  But now the center in both parties is pushing back, to the point of finding agreements with each other.

So observes Alexander Bolton in his article for The Hill (a periodical that focuses on Congress and politics) entitled Political center revolts against fringe, as leaders rebuke Greene, protesters.

As a handful of hardcore rightwingers are trying to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La), an evangelical conservative, other Republican congressmen are rallying to his defense.  As are many Democrats, who usually vote against Republican speakers on principle so as to give their rival party as hard a time as possible.  The reason for the effort to oust Johnson is his support of a spending plan that, among other things, would send more military aid to Ukraine, which most lawmakers in both parties are now supporting.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats in Congress are repudiating their anti-Israel members and are condemning the woke progressives who are demonstrating on campuses nationwide in support of the Hamas terrorists.  This is creating serious conflicts within the Democratic party, with the far left planning demonstrations in hopes of disrupting the party convention in Chicago this summer.  But the more traditional liberals are not caving to the radicals in their party.

And in their support for Israel, most Democrats are in agreement with most Republicans.  Though there are anti-Israel elements on the far right as well as the far left, making those too, strangely, agree with each other.

Bolton also cites Democrats who are bucking the usual party line by pushing measures to control the border and stop illegal immigration.  A number of Democrats are also working to rein in the extreme environmentalism of the Biden administration.  Again, both parties are starting to work together on these issues.

But is this really a revolt of the center or just the Republican and Democratic establishments finally asserting themselves?  How can there be a revival of the political center when Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president?

Well, here is the big surprise:  Leading the moderating charge on the right is Donald Trump!

Put Bolton’s article together with a piece by Sarah Baxter in the UK publication The Standard entitled Donald Trump is ditching the Maga psychos and building a very slick team.

She is in no way sympathetic to Trump and does not put it kindly when she asserts, “There is room for only one political ‘psycho’ in Trumpland.”  Trump, she says, is ” The only American who can get away with conduct that would kill off anybody else’s career,” but he has been purging those who come across as similarly outrageous.

Baxter cites how Trump and his circle have seemingly struck North Dakota Governor Kristi Noem off his list of vice-presidential contenders after she bragged about killing her dog.

He is also reportedly turning against Kari Lake, a firebrand running for the Arizona senate.  He also threw his support to House Speaker Johnson, hanging his more-MAGA-than-thou supporters in Congress out to dry.

More significantly, Baxter says that Trump has gotten rid of his previous ideologically-driven political advisors to run his campaign and instead has assembled a highly-professional, pragmatic team.  She cites the leader of Trump’s campaign, Susie Wiles, a political moderate (and the daughter of the late sports broadcaster Pat Summerall) whom a Politico profile calls the “most admired and feared political operative nobody has ever heard of.”

I would add that Trump is also pushing back against pro-life purists (like me), taking a more “moderate” position on abortion by favoring limits of a certain number of weeks instead of complete abolition and leaving the issue up to the states.

If there is a true revival of political centrism, I suspect it will take four years and the next presidential election in 2028 to fully manifest itself.  The radicals on both sides are still dominating the conversations.  But at least the moderates, for better or worse, are starting to assert themselves.


Illustration:  The Nolan Chart by JayCoop – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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