Is the Middle the Future? If so, Who’s in the Middle?

By Ken Feltman

Republicans have no clear national leader and may not for some time. The problem is numbers and attitudes. The conservative elements of the Republican Party, especially social conservatives, do not have the numbers to claim party-wide leadership. In fact, their numbers are dwindling. Some tea partiers, although certainly not all, do not work well with others and tend to alienate the regulars. For their part, the regulars resent the brash, rigid, energetic, sometimes needlessly secretive newcomers. This is a formula for disaster. 

Meantime, and increasingly left outside the tent, the moderates and remnants of the old Northeast-Midwest based GOP are aging and finally vanishing from the Republican Party. The moderates feel out of place in a party that has so many factions seeking converts, not compromise and governing coalitions. This sort of group funk has occurred in the Republican Party before. It has happened within the Democratic Party, too. Rarely does a party go the way of the Whigs, who could not adjust to the growing abolitionist movement. 

Somewhere, the beginnings of a new party that will draw more heavily from the center may be stirring. Or perhaps a new, more inclusive Republican leader is set to emerge. Whatever comes will challenge the Democrats, who have drawn ever leftward as the Republicans have headed to the right. A successful political future will include more voters from the middle, which is the only way to get to 50 percent plus one. That middle happens to be where many women and immigrants find themselves today.

(A version of this was published in Politico)


About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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