By MARK PENN
Published October 18, 2010
As we head into the midterms it is increasingly clear that there will be no winners on election night given the massive discontent of the electorate almost across the board. Even if the Republicans have a good night, it will not be an endorsement of the Tea Party any more than 2008 was an endorsement of the progressive left. It will be another cycle in the game of ping pong being played out by an increasingly non-partisan, centrist electorate given too little choice — or, worse yet, given false choices.
The problem is that the successful strategies of the two wings of the parties, particularly as the parties have been shrinking, have driven both parties closer to the extremes. Think about the math of it — if the Republican Party is, say, 26% of the country and the most conservative elements of the party are 14%, then 14% can end up governing not just a minority party but the entire country.
At the root of the discontent is the desire to have practical, not ideological, solutions to intractable problems. In most cases, the voters oppose single-sided solutions that entirely reject one party’s ideas, and favor instead approaches that combine the best of each platform. No, not soft, watered down approaches, but strong, comprehensive solutions such as we’ve seen in the past with the balanced budget accord and Welfare reform.