The sad litany of centrists that are leaving the Senate at
the end of the year reads like an obituary for Congress: Olympia Snowe
(R-Maine), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Kent Conrad
(D-N.D.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.).
A similar exodus has been occurring in the House. Rep.
Dennis Cordoza, a California Democrat who is calling it quits, summarized the situation
recently on his blog for The Hill. The loss of moderates, he said, is ruining
Here is what he wrote:
“There is rarely any mention that this exodus already
happened in the House in 2010 -- albeit mostly involuntary -- and the resulting
gridlock should serve as a warning. Scores of Blue Dogs and moderate
Republicans either resigned or lost their elections when the Tea Party took
power. “This extremism has absolutely devastated the day-to-day operations of
the House. With a great many more moderate retirements already announced in
2012, I don’t see any improvement on the horizon.
“The situation is made worse by the ‘seniority system.’
The most senior members with the safest (most partisan) districts stay the
longest, gain the most clout, and become chairmen and leaders. The result is
that the partisan skew is magnified. As Congress continues down this
ever-increasing path of hyper-partisanship, the pressure on and frustration
among sitting moderate members steadily increases until we choose to retire.
"There are serious ‘real world’ consequences for the lack of moderates in
government, too. Businesses are getting caught up in a vicious tug of war
between regulation-happy liberals and live-free-or-die conservatives.”