Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He is Editor-in-Chief of “The Moderate Voice,” an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
The political pundits and psychics — which most assuredly are almost the same if you look at many pundits' actual track records — are now making self-assured predictions or poking fun at psychic predictions.
But, there are, indeed, some things to look for politically this year, which could give us a clue to where America is heading as it zooms further into the 21st Century.
The Political Center: After Barack Obama's election, it became clear that America's political center that had shifted right over the past decades was under attack.
Since the New Deal coalition days the center shifted right, due to Democratic liberals' poutiness and political ineptness, which helped the GOP gain some solid, agenda-changing victories.
Both parties' bases — the Republicans' conservative base and the Democratic left — often diss centrists, and on various occasions, have tried to run them out of their party. Few moderates exist anymore in Congress.
Republicans talk about RINOS (Republican in Name Only) and Dems about DINOS (Democratic in name only).
Which way will the center shift by June? And why?
The center moderates and conservatives are important in elections. An August Gallup poll found that things have not changed much since 2009 and 2010: 41 percent self-identify as conservative, 36 percent say they're moderate, and 21 percent describe themselves as liberal.
Clearly, neither conservatives, nor liberals can win without moderates — you know, those people they say are mushy, ignorant, don't stand for anything. He who woos the moderates, has a better chance to win.
Mitt Romney Tip-Toeing Back to the Center: Watch the former Massachusetts Gov., if — as many expect — he is the GOP nominee for President. He'll likely move back to the center as much as possible and try to spin it so he doesn't lose GOPers such as Tea Party members.
Which is what conservatives fear.
The Right: Will conservatives embrace onetime moderate Romney when they spent the whole last year frantically trying to find somebody — anybody — else?
This week, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on his way to Hermancainland and Rickperryland, conservatives seemed to be smiling on former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Will their thirst to defeat Barack Obama, and watch him concede, still hold, or will ideological purity cause many to stay home?
Liberals: America's liberals over the years decided they'd teach their party a lesson when they didn't like policies or candidates, and stay home.
And they sure did: they taught their party a lesson by losing the hold on the federal bureaucracy they had during the New Deal, New Frontier and Great Society eras. They taught their party a lesson by giving Republicans a chance to appoint GOPers to courts and dominate the Supreme Court.
They taught their party a lesson so badly that they won't use the word "liberal," and now insist they are "progressives." ("Liberal? What liberal?"). Now, many can still only talk about being mad at Obama because there was no "public option" on health care, or applaud the retirement of centrist Democrats.
Will they gift the GOP with a majority to eliminate "Obama care" and close the deal on the Supreme Court? Will Democrats pout away more power again?
Barack Obama to the Center: Obama has been edging closer to the center during 2011, while GOPers running for President, conservative web sites and blogs and conservative radio and TV show hosts have been in a race to show who is more purely conservative. If Republicans keep this up, Obama can stand still and own the center.
And the Psychics? Several are already predicting an Obama win (one predicts a GOP sweep).
But in 2012, forget about the tea leaves. Keep an eye on the important trends.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States, and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He can be reached at email@example.com. His column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.