Before this year, it was already an intriguing question to wonder what the reference point was for left and right on the political compass, the question of what constituted center. Whatever the answer was, it has certainly changed.

As state primaries continue to lead into the Fall mid-term elections, more and more observations like this are popping up.

Republicans are energized, Democrats are not (right now), and the economy is hardly humming — all of which are a recipe for significant Republican gains in November. But when we head into the 2012 presidential election, when the electorate expands, you got to wonder if a Republican Party that doesn’t have room for a John McCain of 2001-2007, a Charlie Crist of 2007-2008, or a Lisa Murkowski of 2010 can reclaim the center of American politics and the presidency, even if they gain control of Congress in the fall. Then again, the center will judge the GOP on not just how it conducts itself if they get the majority, but on the results.

Reclaim the center of American politics? From whom? Democrats don’t control that turf. Many self-identified moderates believed Barack Obama represented a new era of post-partisan reasonableness. They’ve been joining disenfranchised conservatives in the burgeoning populist movement to reform government, loosely aligned under the Tea Party tent. Or just looking for someone to believe in, wandering in the political desert. Which is quite expansive at the moment.

And btw….let’s recall that the Democrats didn’t have room for a Robert Casey of 1992, a Joe Lieberman of 2006, an Evan Bayh of 2010 or a Bart Stupak of 2009….among others.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....