In today's America, the problem with Obama trying to govern from the center is that his pragmatic, let's-get-the-best-we-can-get approach hasn't motivated the left (or worse, he's pissed it off) while the GOP's tactics of fear mongering ("Death Panels," "He's a socialist") has motivated the right. After all, emotional appeals to fear are intuitively understandable and are always more powerful than rational arguments that require thinking through to accept.
So while traditionally, being in the non-dogmatic center has been the politically wisest place to be, the extremist nature of American politics today means the center maybe becoming toxic to winning elections. Voters in the center have easily swayable positions and are easily dissuaded from voting while those at the extremes are dogmatic and, if you push the right buttons, die hard voters.
The Senate election in Mass is all going to come down to turnout: will disaffected Progressives
and Dems vote or sit this one out because Obama hasn't been pure
Tuesday's election is not really going to be about about the
strength or resurgence of the Right. Instead, it will be about whether
the Left is willing to govern from the center and occupy a position
that, over time, will build an enduring political power base or whether
it wants to emulate the Right and appeal just to its end of the spectrum (see Tea Party Goal: "Take the precinct, take the state, take the party." Tea Party Result: Taking The GOP Over The Cliff).
Tuesday's Mass Senate election is the Democrat's 23rd. Will enough purity-requiring-Progressives sit it out so that the Republican wins ... and therefore kill health care reform and Obama's progressive agenda?
Tuesday's election couldn't be any more important.