Thursday, July 15, 2004


Meet Me in The Middle RADICAL CENTER.

As "values" emerge as top campaign issue for President Bush and Senator Kerry -- and as Republicans vow to push forward the gay marriage amendment again in the future -- it's easy to assume that we're entering another stage in the culture wars. Some pundits, however, say otherwise. Today's Wall Street Journal featured an editorial by Morris Fiorino, a Stanford political science professor. Fiorino rejects the "new consensus around the proposition that old disagreements about economics now pale in comparison to new divisions based on sexuality, morality, and religion." For Fiorino, the culture war is a theme that's been exaggerated by journalists and politicos to excite readers and voters. He points to research data, like a CBS poll that showed that 76% of Republicans, 87% of Democrats, and 86% of Independents "would like to see elected officials compromise more rather than stick to their principles," to prove that voters' positions have not become polarized. Rather, the Republican and Democrat elites that represent them have taken more radical positions. Fiorino’s piece echoes much of what Robert Samuelson wrote in his column for the Washington Post two weeks ago. Samuelson looked at a study done by Princeton University sociologist that concluded "the public actually has become more unified in attitudes toward race, gender and crime since the 1970s." Samuelson argued that the politics of the elected officials, party activists, advocates, highly engaged voters and commentators have become more radicalized -- and centrist voters, "who do not see the world in such uncompromising absolutes" have been turned off by that rhetoric.

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