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Moderates: Where have all the good people gone?

Democrats and Republicans are driving toward a cliff. They’re both doped up on whatever drug could make them delusional enough to think they deserve to be reelected and too busy bickering about whose necktie is more patriotic to see the end of the road up ahead. They’re about to nose-dive into oblivion, and if we have any sense, we’ll encourage them to speed it up.

Although this election year has been painted as Democrat hunting season, with Republicans poised to take at least one house of Congress in November, the jigs of jubilation on the right are naive. Average Americans are not swinging to the right any more than they swung to the left two years ago. They are fed up with the party in power, much the same way they were in 2006 when they booted out congressional Republicans.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found voter discontent with their representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike, at the highest rate in two decades. And while Republicans are facing happy prospects this fall, their approval rating among voters is even worse than Democrats’. Ten percent more of voters disapprove of congressional Republicans than Democrats, with the GOP holding a disapproval rating of 73 percent. In fact, more voters believe Democrats have better ideas for the economy and disagree with Republicans about extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

And yet Republicans, despite their deficit of good ideas and expulsion of moderates from their ranks, are set to take over Congress.

This projected victory is not a verdict on conservatism versus liberalism. Instead, it is the result of exhausted and anxious Americans who have been given a choice between two piles of shit. We can vote for the spineless Democrat who will twiddle his thumbs and get absolutely nothing done, or we can vote for the hyperbolic Republican with really bad ideas. But gosh darnit, he’ll make sure they happen.

Missing from this equation are the centrists, whose voices are silenced by mentally numb tea partiers and ignored by befuddling Democratic wonks.

The amount of sheer disdain and dissatisfaction toward the two parties in Washington should send a clear sign to moderate politicians that a door is opening. Although third-party candidates usually don’t have a shot in hell at winning an election, voter patience is entering its twilight hours.

Taking a page out of the tea party’s own playbook, moderates have begun to organize. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose own career has taken him from being a Democrat to a Republican to an independent, is putting his popularity and his billions behind moderate candidates across the country. And his spreading popularity could open the door for a presidential run. On top of that, moderatism will enter the lion’s den at the end of October as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show  converges on Washington with potentially thousands of fans for his “Rally to Restore Sanity” aimed at the “Busy Majority.”

It’s easy enough to be disheartened in today’s political climate. It seems no one is listening, and perhaps they’re not. But for the three quarters of the country that are fed up with everyone with a “D” or an “R” next to their name, have a little hope. Although the tea party has demonstrated how easy it is to exploit the gullibility and insecurity of a small portion of the electorate, it has also shown what’s possible when you organize. For those who have had enough, it’s possible to express anger without being forced to vote for a pile of shit.

Extremism may have won a battle or two, but the war isn’t over yet. Moderates, suit up. We’ve got a country to govern.

Justin Snow is a senior history major. He can be reached at snow@umdbk.com.

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