Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Precious Center

For a long time in American politics, candidates for national office have known that the center always seems the place to be.
by Charlie Leck

For how long has it been known that the center is the coveted place to be in national elections? Does it go back to Jefferson or Adams? Or was Lincoln who first recognized the axiom: The Center Always Wins!

John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s election team was the most vocal and public about the concept. Against Richard Nixon in 1960, Kennedy was anal (abnormally focused) about driving his campaign to the center of the political spectrum. He and his brother, Robert, believed that the candidate who was perceived to be most centrist would win the election (the operative word being, of course, perceived). Kennedy’s campaign strategy aimed at making Nixon look far too conservative—too far to the right – to be considered a safe bet as President.

Four years later, Lyndon Baines Johnson, one of the most liberal U.S. Senators in modern history, was able to capture the political center only because he ran against one of the most conservative political figures in America at that time – Barry Goldwater. Johnson won the election by the proverbial landslide.

In 1968, Richard Nixon ran again for the highest office in the land and he won because, this time, he captured the center when he ran against the liberal’s liberal, Hubert H. Humphrey (of Minnesota). Hubert tried vainly to portray himself as a moderate – a leftist in centrist’s clothing, if you will. It was close only because there was no true centrist that year nor any candidate who could truly really portray himself as such.

The Current Big Question among political observers
So, everyone is wondering how Mint Romney, who has spent the last year trying to convince conservatives in America that he is more conservative than Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, can possibly capture the center in 2012 American politics. How can Mint Romney now get himself moved all the way from the right to the center on the political gauge? And mind you, he has to figure out how to do this without totally convincing the hard right (Tea Party) not to vote. Well, in fact, Romney will not lose the hard right only because they detest President Obama so much. The real question – the Big Question – is how can he now capture the real center of American politics and still sound realistic and trustworthy?

If you, like I, enjoy watching political maneuvering and dancing, this is going to be one interesting campaign effort to observe!

In fact, if you perk up your ears and focus your eyes, you can hear and see the beginning of that Romney shift already beginning. He is certain enough that he has won the endorsement that he has begun the remaking of his image while, at the same time, he portrays President Obama as the most radical left-winger ever to live in the White House.

So, now it begins – this effort to be the middle leaf in the quincunx (really!).

This is just my simple, little tip about how to observe the political wrangling and readjustments you will see over the next six months. Enjoy!

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