Posted by Bob Lord
We tend to confuse the political spectrum and the ideological spectrum. The ideological spectrum includes the entire range of ideologies. The political spectrum is narrower. It includes only those ideologies that are included in the political discussion. The political spectrum slides back and forth along the ideological spectrum. Currently, it is jammed to the extreme right. Tea party radicals on the right are very much included in the political discussion, while sane voices on the left are ignored.
Which brings about this phenomenon, as described by Andy O'Brien in A Billionaire-Funded Campaign to "Fix the Debt" & the Illusion of a Moderate Middle:
In spite of polls that consistently show large majorities of Americans oppose such measures, several key Democrats, including the president himself, have signaled a desire to accept "entitlement cuts" as a way of finding common ground with an increasingly extreme Republican Party.
As history has shown, progressive reforms like Social Security were established during a time when labor unions and progressive parties were able to exert pressure on politicians. However, with the absence of an organized left-wing, radical right-wing groups like the Tea Party can tilt the debate so that cutting popular safety net programs can seem like a centrist idea. The result is an illusion of a "moderate middle" exploited by a small group of millionaires and billionaires, keeping unpopular ideas alive with an elaborate infrastructure of think tanks, astroturf groups and political campaign spending. (emphasis mine)
Something to remember every time a Democrat casts a "centrist" vote and on those few occasions when a courageous progressive challenges an incumbent "centrist" in a primary.