The Pew Research Center has presented a simple linear chart that places the ideology of the three Presidential contenders and the current President on a left-right scale, along with the median ideology of the voting public. A two-axis chart would be more informative, but this one-dimensional distribution reveals a great deal :
1) The center of gravity of the US public is significantly right of the center, no matter what leftists may say/wish. McCain, thus, is far closer to the center of gravity than Bush, who in turn is closer than Obama or Clinton. The GOP is far less dependent on centrists to win elections than Democrats are.
2) The notion that McCain is 'not conservative enough' does not stand up to statistical evidence. Those who whine about McCain's support for amnesty of illegals or compromises on judicial appointments forget that even Ronald Reagan did three things that were not purely conservative.
a) Reagan granted amnesty to illegals in 1986
b) Reagan appointed two moderate Supreme Court Justices, Kennedy and O'Connor, and only one conservative, Scalia.
c) Reagan did increase income taxes, after first lowering them
No President will be purely conservative, nor should he/she be. So I reject the initial conservative hostility to McCain (which seems to have somewhat abated). The job of a political party is to win elections, and the fact that Republicans span a wider ideological spectrum than Democrats should be a source of pride, which brings us to observation #3.
3) The Democratic Party has been enslaved by fringe leftists. Obama and Clinton are nearly identical in ideology, yet very far to the left of the center of gravity. The purple oval I have inserted, along with the question mark, represents a vacuum in the moderate left. A large number of voters clearly reside there, but the Democratic party of today will not nominate someone who resides in the purple zone, leaving these voters as ideological orphans. Thus, Clinton and Obama have to lie (assisted by a complicit leftist media) to appear more moderate than they are, and hope that the public doesn't figure that out.
Joseph Lieberman, the VP candidate against Bush/Cheney just seven years ago, was run out of the Democratic Party simply for not being opposed to bringing democracy to Iraq. Bill Clinton's actions of supporting free trade agreements like NAFTA, sending troops to fight proto-Al-Qaeda terrorists in Somalia in 1993, reforming welfare, cutting taxes on capital gains in 1997, attacking Saddam Hussein to remove his WMD programs in 1998, etc. are all actions that the modern Democratic party would not take.
I am a political moderate, in that I care about only three issues. These are, in order of importance to me :
a) aggresively fighting against terrorists and other enemies of democracy and women's rights,
b) the preservation of free market meritocracy, and the use of market forces to solve problems, and
c) a judicial system that punishes crime, instead of ignoring justice and proceeding to reward the criminal as a poster-child for some perverted cause.
I have a neutral/uninterested position on abortion, gay marriage, gun ownership, prayer in schools, and many other domestic issues. Yet, I am considered 'right wing' by some extreme leftists, on account of holding the above three positions alone. Until 2001, it did not even occur to me that only one of the two parties still advocates these three basic principles - I assumed that these were values held by any logical person. I wish I had a true choice between two parties, but I don't. In the words of once-Democrat Ronald Reagan, I did not move away from the Democratic Party, it moved away from me.
The moderate left died in 1968, when two of their most promising young leaders were assassinated. Since then, Democrats have only won three of the last ten elections. After the disaster of Jimmy Carter, Democrats never again won 50% of the popular vote in SEVEN attempts, while Republicans achieved this feat 4 times over that period (1980, 84, 88, 2004). This is a truly shambolic performance from the Democrats of the modern era. Jimmy Carter did more to ensure a generation of GOP dominance than Reagan, Gingrich, Limbaugh, or Rove ever could.
Furthermore, Democrats are not capable of getting a majority of voters who earn over $30,000 a year. The middle class earning between $50,000 and $75,000 voted just 44% for Democrats. A party that is soundly rejected by the middle class and upper class is not positioned for long-term success.
2008 is a year where more factors, from a weak economy to an unpopular incumbent, are working against Republicans than at any time since 1976. Thus, Democrats should be in a position to win by a landslide, but even now are trailing in the polls, and have at best a 50/50 chance of winning the White House in November, with a nominee far more distant from the voting public than John McCain is. Even if, say, Obama wins, he might repeat the Carter-esqe phenomenon of ensuring another generation of GOP dominance starting from 2012. If 2008 is 1976, 2012 could be 1980.
Once again, the job of a political party is to attract the votes of 50% of the public, and Democrats can only hope to achieve this by fluke. If Democrats want to become a national party again, they must move into the purple zone, period. I sincerely want them to do this, as this will force the GOP to compete to become a better party as well, rather than stagnate into mediocrity with the knowledge that they only have to be better than the most pathetic of opponents.
When will Democrats purge the leftists and move to the center?