Abrams: Moderates increasingly scarce in Congress

Dan Abrams Live
Dan Abrams

Dan Abrams

(NewsNation) — I’ve talked a lot about how I believe what we’re doing on this show and this network is so important because it’s such a crucial time for moderate voices to be heard.

I call us the marginalized moderate majority, but while we may be the majority, moderates are an endangered species in the politicized media these days. And according to a disturbing new study, moderate voices are and will be becoming ever more scarce in the halls of Congress, as well.

An analysis published Wednesday by Reuters found that of the 50 most moderate members of Congress, 13 either retired or lost their primary races in this cycle. They will all will be replaced by, if not extremists, then representatives who are much further away from the center.

It’s a problem that afflicts both parties. And there are several reasons behind it, which can be found by looking at some of the highest-profile members of Congress who are losing their seats.

Arguably, none has more name recognition than Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. The anti-Trump Republican had been vilified within his party for participating on the Jan. 6 committee, voting for Trump’s impeachment and taking a host of other positions for which he was denounced on the far-right as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). All the while, Democrats lauded him as a patriot who put country ahead of party.

But it was the actually the Democrats who forced him out of office by redrawing his district, and forcing him to run in a primary against a far-right incumbent who is much more popular to the Republican base. Kinzinger opted not to run and is retiring at the end of his term.

Moderate Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy didn’t wait for Florida Republicans to redraw her district. She announced she was stepping down late last year. And she cited not just opposition from Republicans, but Democrats as well, with national progressive groups running attack ads against her.

Murphy, a three-term member of Congress, is part of a group of moderate Democrats called the blue dogs. In 2010, there were 54 blue dogs in the house. Right now, there are 19. With five retiring and six others in competitive races, there could be as few as eight come January.

Their counterparts on the center-right are disappearing just as fast. In addition to Kinzinger, Michigan Congressman Peter Meijer faced a primary challenge last month from far-right opponent John Gibbs and was narrowly defeated. It didn’t help his cause that Democrats were propping up Gibbs because they believed he would be an easier opponent to defeat in the general election.

That’s the common thread here. Whether it’s redistricting, negative ads from special interest groups or the opposing party promoting extremist candidates, moderates are under attack from both parties. Extremists are now driving the agenda among Democrats and Republicans, and moderates just can’t fight the machine that’s designed to drive them out.

Cable news is part of the problem, too. Over on Fox, for example, Tucker Carlson has recently targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, who he has denounced as a RINO.

“Your job is to make fun of Lindsey Graham and to disavow Lindsey Graham,” Carlson recently advised other GOP candidates. “Your job is not to emulate Lindsey Graham and steal his talking points. And if you do emulate Lindsey Graham and steal those talking points, you will lose.”

Tucker’s logic is make fun of Graham, ostracize Graham or shun Graham because he doesn’t conform to far-right dogma on every single issue.

Moderate Democrats don’t get treated much better by the left-leaning outlets.

Bakkari Sellers said recently on CNN: “Chris Coons, Jon Tester, Mark Kelly, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin want to be on the side of George Wallace, want to be on the side of Strom Thurmond and many others who stood in the way of civil rights — even Strom Thurmond came around on voting rights — but if they want to go down in history as standing on the side of segregationists and those who oppose people who look like me having free and fair access to the ballot, then we’ll remember them as such.

Really? We’re comparing Joe Manchin to George Wallace? 

But that’s the kind of ideological purity the far-left and the far-right demand on cable news. Either you agree with them on every single issue, or you’re a RINO, or a segregationist. And the party machines take their cues from cable, which is why the blue dogs and the moderate Republicans are becoming extinct.

What will happen when these 435 mostly extremists hit the Capitol in January? Gridlock. Extremists don’t do compromise. They believe in all or nothing. 

The one silver lining, though, is that the loudest voices are no longer the only voices. That’s where we, the marginalized moderate majority, come in. Finally, we have a place where we can be heard and hold our politicized leaders of both parties to account.

There are still some in Congress who are open to a message of moderation. But now is the time for them, for you, for us to speak out. Or else they might all soon be gone.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022