What Moderates Want

Stan Greenberg and Bob Borosage have a smart piece taking on the notion that the larger number of self-described conservatives than liberals show that we’re a “center-right” nation. They observe that on the vast majority of issues, moderates have pretty liberal views. The difference is that moderates are skeptical that government can be made to work well. Thus, what progressives need to do is not to trim, but to govern effectively:

[P]rogressives needn’t be defensive about the majority that is dubious about government spending. Making government work effectively is at the heart, not the capillaries of the progressive agenda. This test doesn’t distract; it focuses us on our task. No progressive majority can ever be consolidated for long if it doesn’t demonstrate that government can be an effective ally for everyone.

And that is all moderates are looking for. They aren’t skeptical about the need for government. By large margins, they think regulation does more good than harm. They want investments made in education and training. They favor a concerted government-led drive for energy independence. They far prefer a health-care plan with a choice between their current insurance and a public plan like Medicare, rather than one that would give them a tax credit to negotiate with insurance companies on their own. Their concern is less that government will do too much and more that government will fail to do what it must and waste their money in the process.

Right on. Meanwhile, any incumbent party needs to govern effectively to hold on to power, so it’s not like this is some special challenge over and above the basic tasks.