The mainstream press is still working its way through the "what it all means" stage. Here is The New York Times trying out different ways of saying that the new Democrats who gave their party the Hill majority are not "bright blue." In other words, they too are moderates.
What amazes me is that the Times seems to think this is new. The Democratic Party ran off all kinds of centrist voters in the Reagan era and more in the post-Clinton era. This is no great secret. So who were these voters and what made them bite their lips and pull a GOP lever? Once again, we are wrestling with what words like "centrist," "reform" and "moderate" mean.
Well, the new Democrats are not crusaders. They realize that there were Republicans who voted for them, in part due to the war and GOP corruption.
But what else is going on here? The Times even uses -- without blushing -- the word "liberal" to describe the current Democratic leadership that has been put in power by this small collection of centrists. Conflict could be ahead. But conflict on what? Here is a long slice of the article:
Representative Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat who recruited many of these candidates as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, described the group as "moderate in temperament and reformers in spirit." Conservatives tend to highlight the conservatism in the new class as a sign that Democrats are essentially ceding ground to the right on issues like gun control and abortion.
But many of these freshmen Democrats are hard to pigeonhole ideologically. Even among the most socially conservative, there is a strong streak of economic populism that is a unifying force. Heath Shuler, for example, the former professional football player and newly elected House Democrat from North Carolina, is anti-abortion and pro-gun, but sounds like an old-style Democrat on economic issues.
"I was taught at a very, very young age about faith and personal responsibility, and through that, that responsibility was about helping those who cannot help themselves," Mr. Shuler said. "If you look at what the Democratic Party stands for, it is about helping others who can't help themselves."
Once again, as always, abortion -- the great stalking horse for the Sexual Revolution in general -- is right up front. And so is the issue of religious faith.
But isn't it amazing that the Times story expresses mild surprise that there are people who are moral conservatives and political progressives? I mean, hasn't anyone read that "Tribal Relations" piece in The Atlantic that GetReligion keeps pushing? Didn't they read the Pew Forum materials showing that a solid majority of Democrats wants significant changes in our abortion laws?
Once again, there are centrists who are liberal on economics and conservative on cultural issues. Then there are centrists who are liberal on cultural issues and conservative on economics. Do we need a new vocabulary to describe these two very different groups?
And, yes, what about the ultimate decision? How does this affect the courts? Will the party leadership compromise there?