Posted on May 10 2012 – 6:00 PM – Posted by: Doug Brady
Centrism and bipartisan consensus often are unduly worshiped by Washington’s punditeers, who are ever bemoaning the decline of across-the-aisle dialogue and compromise. Frequently, these calls for cooperation are escape routes for those who prefer to transcend real and important political and policy divides and who yearn to position themselves above the critical but down-and-dirty squabbles that shape this country’s future. Yet there are times when the pursuit of a common purpose uniting Democrats and Republicans is necessary to advance important policy aims and to demonstrate to the citizenry that the nation’s capital can function and serve the public interest. And in an era of increasing political rancor, Washington’s ability to rise to this task is now diminished with the primary defeat of Sen. Dick Lugar, an Indiana Republican.
Lugar was beaten on Tuesday by Richard Mourdock, the tea-party-favored state treasurer. This was not unexpected. Lugar, a moderate GOPer who had served in the Senate since 1977, was ripe for the defenestration. Tea partiers in recent years had eviscerated other targeted-from-the-right Republican senators, including Bob Bennett of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. (Murkowski was able to retain her seat via an unconventional write-in campaign.) And Lugar, unlike John McCain (who successfully beat back this sort of challenge in 2010), did little to protect his right flank in the past two years.
Lugar’s defeat will be cited by the hand-wringing DC pooh-bahs as another sign of hopelessness. But the loss of Lugar—as opposed to, say, the loss of Bennett—will have true policy ramifications, for this Hoosier frequently endeavored to forge bipartisan coalitions to advance national security priorities.