Let's make one baseline assumption: most Americans are not ideologues.
As much as I might like to believe that most Americans--deep down--are Libertarians, the fact is: they're not.
As much as Liberalgeek might like to believe that most Americans are inherently liberals, the fact is: they're not.
And while RSmitty or David Anderson want to think the same thing with regard to conservatism, the fact is: they're not.
Most Americans are a walking bundle of political contradictions: gun nuts who favor universal health care, evangelicals who believe in the separation of church and state in the public schools....
Which is probably why presidential candidates traditionally run toward their bases in the primaries and back to the center in the general election.
But when the center is simply not where any of the major candidates feels comfortable, exactly what are we in for?
Here, from On the Issues, are the graphics charting the positions of major and minor presidential candidates (you can visit the website for the quotations and the scoring methodology upon which these graphics are based):
Senator Barack Obama is a Hardcore Liberal.
Senator John McCain is a Populist-leaning Conservative:
Former Representative Bob Barr is a Hardcore Conservative:
Former Representative Cynthia McKinney is a Hardcore Liberal:
Consumer activist Ralph Nader is also a Hardcore Liberal:
So I guess what I'm saying is that there are no moderates running for President.
All of which made me wonder, who qualifies as a Moderate?
This turned out to be a pretty difficult search, but finally I found two sitting Senators who qualify as Moderates, individuals who'd obviously be at the center of everything, individuals to whom everyone would look when it came time to build a consensus, right?
You tell me. My two Moderates were
Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania:
Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut:
So what have I learned by all this?
I think we're in deep trouble no matter who wins.