Centrism and the Internet

CENTRISM AND THE INTERNET….Ron Brownstein has an odd column this morning. He thinks that both Democrats and Republicans are pandering so heavily to their extreme wings these days that there’s a real opportunity for a new centrist party to steal some votes away. What’s more, Joe Trippi agrees:

Trippi believes an independent presidential candidate who struck a chord could organize support through the Internet just as inexpensively [as starting a blog]. “Somebody could come along and raise $200 million and have 600,000 people on the streets working for them without any party structure in the blink of an eye,” he says.

It might not be quite that simple. But the two parties are pursuing strategies that create an opening in the center of the electorate, even as the Internet makes it easier for a new competitor to fill it.

….”We are now moving toward a very dangerous place for both parties,” he says. “It is becoming much more possible for an independent or third party to emerge because they are leaving so much space in the middle.”

Now, this appeals to my centrist temperament, just as it appeals to guys like Marshall Wittman and, presumably, Matt “2% Solution” Miller. But the internet?

For all the usual reasons ? which I won’t bother going into ? I doubt very much that an independent centrist party is going to start up. But even if one does, I sure don’t see the internet providing the juice. That’s sort of like suggesting that talk radio might become a force for moderation and sensible solutions to our nation’s problems. But I don’t see it: regardless of their actual policy positions, Howard Dean and MoveOn succeeded on the internet by pushing strident political rhetoric, not calm moderation.

Now, I could see the internet providing some traction for a revived libertarian party ? although it hasn’t happened yet. Or maybe a Christian right party ? except that they already have one. Or maybe a hardline green party.

But $200 million from the internet for a centrist party? From the internet? Quick: can you name any centrist blogs, for example, that get more than 10,000 hits a day? I mean genuinely centrist ? moderate but clearly liberal or conservative sites like this one don’t count. I can’t think of a single one, which makes me wonder: if centrism has a future on the internet, where is it going to come from?

And one more thing: is Brownstein’s idea of an independent really John McCain? Take a look at Keith Poole’s rank ordering of senators in the 108th Congress and McCain is ranked the 4th most conservative senator out of 100. That’s independent?