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November and the Calculus of American Centrism

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"What if President Obama isn't actually triangulating towards the center? What if he has in fact been a practitioner of centrism all along? His administration's track record in years 1 and 2 speaks that pragmatism -- with its' many seemingly odd twists -- could very well be the White House's real modus operandi. And now "messaging" to that effect begins. Is the President reaching out to the American political middle for November? To what end? To reshape Congress more towards a body he can work with to expedite his agenda in years 3 and 4 perhaps? I confess that I have more centrist leanings that some of the other bloggers on HuffPost so it bothers me little to ponder such maneuverings as legitimate options of governing strategy. But I can see how it would bother the dogmatic at both tail ends of the political bell curve a lot; and the ones on the far left with a sharp stinging spurned lover sensation in particular. Bitter? Definitely. Wrong? That I'm not so sure. Just sayin ..."

I was moved to make that comment in response to President Obama's seemingly growing troubles with the so called "professional left" that - two years into his first term - increasingly expresses dissatisfaction with the degree of triangulation the Administration has been following as it attempts to deal with a host of titanic issues of the day. No doubt the occupants of the West Wing have settled into the reality that presidential terms are more like a relay race with the baton of responsibility passed from caretaker to caretaker. The business of operating the Executive Branch of the United States is ultimately indifferent to who is holding the pen and the football. And so we find one Barack Obama entering the difficult narrowing waters like so many before him dealing with - as he was elected to do - the excesses of "Hope" from dogmatic forces to his Left and to his Right.

The ensuing aimless frustration and fury are the cards that excite the media as the pursuit of ratings turns everything into reality television. But there's a deeper question I'm hearing as election season begins in earnest.

Where are the voices of the American center? Where are the voices demanding that political America move substantively to stop kicking cans down the road and get on with implementing inclusive and innovative solutions to better the economic fate of the American middle class? Where are the visionaries who can turn notions of pursuing environmentalism into the next technological revolution to enhance global prosperity? Where are the clear thinking strategists that can accelerate the rejuvenation of our national security posture? Where are the human rights believers who would love to see our gay friends recognized as equal in all respects as we demand that recognition for ourselves? Where are the people who are beyond reacting emotionally to politically divisive ploys like the imagery of guns and other theatrical props of the "Games of the Beltway" that too often only serve to obfuscate progress towards truly workable solutions to complex problems?

These are the People upon which pragmatic, progressive governance depends. We have more in common with central leaning Democrats and Republicans than they do with the fringes of their respective parties. But, as has been the long history of the silent middle of America, we are not a distinct and vocal political entity. I submit we need to be. We need to do so if this election season is not to finish leaving us in worse shape to tackle our issues. The longer our country wastes time shifting wealth instead of growing it the deeper will be our woes. We need to turn the media to asking whether what special interests deride as misguided political "triangulation" isn't in fact the sound of the silent majority walking softly and carrying a bucket full of chad.

So what would make me happy in November? I'd like to see candidates vetted by voters not along party lines but based on how they can perform as pragmatic representatives of our interests. I'd like to see a Congress with more overall weight in a working middle so our country can tend to business productively in 2011. Similarly, I'd like to see the continuation of the trend towards innovatively bringing more and more States into a proactive process of focusing on the 21st century needs of their peoples. Is it too much to ask? Maybe so, but it never hurts to pose the question.

Like I said, just sayin ...