Posted by Bob Lord
I always marvel at how people point to the political center as if it's the center of wisdom. Often, they think they're making an incredibly astute observation when they point out that "most voters are centrists." Doh. Voters always will fall onto a bell shaped curve, with most clustered around the center. So, yes, it's always true that most voters are at or near the center of the political spectrum. But that doesn't mean the center represents good policy.
The real issue is where the center is, because the center isn't stationary. The center moves. So, the cener is not always where poliy ideally would be. And there are ominous signs that the center is continuing it's rightward move.
Right now, the entire spectrum, including the center, is way off to the right. Pundits will say that the polarization of the parties is because they've each moved to the extremes. Not true. The Republicans have moved way off to the right, but the Democrats have moved right as well.
When you recognize that reality, the current discourse in the abortion debate is frightening. While progressives gleefully pounce on all the ridiculous statements from the "no exception for rape" crowd, I'm afraid we're losing sight of a really disconcerting development. The battle line in the debate has moved — rightward. It used to be whether Roe should be overturned. Now, it's about whether there should be very limited exceptions to an outright ban on abortions. In other words, the "centrist" position is to allow abortions in the case of rape or incest, or where the health of the mother is at stake. Roe v. Wade would be considered left of center.
This development will help Democrats in the 2012 election, but if you believe a 15 year-old girl who makes a mistake should have a choice, it's a long-term problem. A big one.