Richard Mourdock’s defeat of longtime Indiana Senator Richard Lugar has increased chances that Democrats can win the seat in November, reaffirmed the Republican Party’s identification as “extremist,” and boosted partisan politics over “bipartisanship” in Washington, DC. But what the outcome primarily shows is the further erosion of the corporate media’s core value that the best solutions lie in “the center” and that all is lost if “the center cannot hold.”
According to Richard Mourdock “This is a historic time, and the most powerful people in both parties are so opposed to one another that one side simply has to win out over the other.”
Sounds like what progressives were saying when Obama took office.
But the traditional media and the President both promoted “bipartisan” agreements, even if they were inadequate to meet the nation’s many crises. And such “centrist” solutions were endorsed despite an already extremist Republican Party having moved the goalposts sharply to the right.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer responded to Mourdock’s comments by saying, “Well, there are a lot of things wrong in Washington, but too much compromise is certainly not one of them.”
Really? Obama’s eagerness to compromise prevented the Democratic Party from capitalizing on its sweeping victories in November 2008. And it’s absolutely clear that Obama’s agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and courting of “moderates” like Lugar not only weakened health care reform measure, but left it vulnerable to legal action.
Schumer was so busy looking for compromises that he botched immigration reform while ignoring mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. His idea of “bipartisanship” is protecting tax breaks for hedge fund managers and other financial service sectors comprising the 1%.
While Richard Lugar supported a handful of policies backed by the Obama Administration, he typically joined with right-wing Republicans. And he was never a swing vote that enabled the passage of a key issue favored by Democrats.
Centrist solutions are what kept slavery going for decades, and what allowed Senators who backed Jim Crow laws to be treated as respected figures in the national press.
If Mourdock’s victory helps destroy the fiction of the supremacy of bipartisanship and centrist solutions, progressives will be far better off.
Randy Shaw is author of The Activist’s Handbook.