CenterLine: News for Centrists

Third Way busts a move: Third Way's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week brought the progressive/centrist split into a very unflattering spotlight. Centrist Project founder Charlie Wheelan has a novel take on this storyline - "If the extremists in both parties drive the rest of us into the middle, they could end up doing the country an inadvertent favor." He explains why in his latest US News piece, here

Do third parties dream of electric sheep? Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics explores the question of the moment — Why the third party dream remains just that — in a very thoughtful piece today. Conroy's reporting has the added benefit of giving some fabulous coverage to The Centrist Project's big idea. Please give it a read.

You know what they say about men with small legacies: Rachel Maddow's new Washington Post column today focuses on the "lost years" of the Bush presidency.

The big success in passing a budget may be ... passing a budget? Sen. Angus King (I-VT) says Congress passing a budget - for the first time in four years - is a serious victory, regardless of the details. Watch here

And speaking of independents: Democratic pollster Peter Hart just conducted a focus group of independent voters for the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The topline finding: Independent voters blame the political system but feel powerless to change it. "It is a sense that the system doesn't work, and they don't have an answer, but they know what they hate." More details here.   

Finding their power: Voters are leaving the old-school parties in droves. Third Way shows a jump of nearly 11.2% in independent voter registration from 2008 to 2013 in the 24 states and the District of Columbia that keep partisan registration statistics. USA Today has the story here

What's causing this rising sense of hatred toward the system? Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddel in Politico argue it's about trust. They write:

"Trust is vital because it underpins any successful functioning of a government and an economy. Its absence, if deep enough and extending over a long period of time, creates corrosive damage to political and economic institutions along with social decline. This is what we are seeing today.

"What is keeping the American people from seeking alternatives is the absence of those alternatives, not a lack of desire for them. And as distrust and lack of confidence grows, it is our hope that these alternatives will enter the field."

But where are the centrist alternatives? Steven Roberts, who writes a syndicated column with his wife Cokie Roberts, made a great observation this week. He notes that a 1982 study defined 58 senators as "centrists." Using that study's definition of centrist, there are no senators who would get that label today. 

"In fact, Roberts argued, a senator who promotes himself or herself as a centrist now would likely regret the decision. Lawmakers are most at risk not from people on the other side of the political spectrum but from those on the periphery of their own parties, he said. Republican incumbents have faced the most significant attacks from the far right. Democratic incumbents have faced their most significant attacks from the far left."

Read the full Times-Picayune piece here

Here's something fun: 

"It's better to govern as an independent ... because you're much less threatening. This isn't about giving power to the other party ... it's about someone coming in who has the skill sets to look at the facts and identify solutions and get people to rally around them. The legislature, I believe they want to make change [in healthcare, education and transportation] ... And it requires a skill set versus a party." 

— Jeff McCormick, the college lacrosse star turned venture capitalist who is now one of the two independent candidates for MA governor. Watch his WGBH interview here

P.S.: MSNBC looks at how Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund are choosing very different 2014 primary strategies. 

P.P.S.: Will Massachusetts be the next state to adopt nonpartisan primaries? Some of the state's top political bloggers think it should be. Here's why.

We're watching: "What did we do to deserve the worst Congress of all time?" On 'The Daily Show,' redistricting consultant Kimball Brace pulls back the curtain on the process of redrawing congressional districts. Watch the madness here

We're supporting: The #endpartisanship coalition just launched. The group is building a state-by-state legal strategy to fight for top-two primaries, which they are rebranding as "nonpartisan primaries." Learn more here

Just the Facts: on income disparity ... do with these what you will ... 

Tweets of the Week:

Filene's Budget: @Steele_Michael: Less a Grand Bargain and more Bargain Basement

And yet we clicked: @daveweigel: With this link, I will ruin your day. 

That's all for now, folks. Although if you live in the San Francisco area — or know someone who does — you'll want to save the date for the next Politics & Pints on Jan. 14. Details here.

All the best,

CenterLine welcomes contributors. Please email me your contributions with "CenterLine" in the subject.


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