Teapublican candidates are notorious for running to the right during primaries in order to placate the base. Then they run to the center during the general election. What about Democrats? When’s the last time you saw a Democratic candidate run to the left during the primary contest?
It’s a trick question.
The answer is most likely never. In my voting lifetime, I cannot recall a single instance of a Democratic candidate changing positions following the primaries to become more centrist. They all seem to be centrists, that is if you consider the center to be what once was the right.
More and more Democratic candidates are refugees from the new Teapublican Party. More and more of them talk about the need to cut social programs while maintaining or increasing defense spending. More are in favor of corporate tax cuts. And more are in favor of liberal gun laws.
The result of this dynamic is that, with each election cycle, Teapublicans are successful in moving the discussion further to the right. And Democrats just keep going along with it. In fact, it would be difficult to distinguish a “liberal” of today from a conservative of the 1970s or 1980s. The “liberal” President Clinton signed a Republican bill repealing the Glass-Steagall Act regulating the financial industry. The “liberal” Clinton signed a bill making it easier for corporations to export jobs. The “socialist” President Obama signed a law permitting guns in our national parks. And, instead of pushing for universal healthcare, the “socialist” Obama settled for health care reform based on a concept from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.
What the Democratic Party really needs is a less belligerent, liberal version of the Tea Party that will force candidates to run to the left in order to win their primaries. Maybe then we can turn our political discussion back to the real center.