Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Orrin Hatch: Too Moderate for Voters?

This is just a short little blurb from The Daily Caller but I found applicability in its irony. Ostensibly, the article is poking fun at Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah for being “doggone offended” by voters and interest groups who don’t support his re-election. The way he sees it, he’s been a senator since 1976 and he should stay that way. He responds to critics within his party by casting his would-be conservative base as radical libertarians who aren’t really conservative. Hatch’s attitude of establishment entitlement fits the caricature of the “old boys club.”
But what I found perhaps more ironic is that after all this talk of moderate government and bi-partisanship, the real reason Hatch’s base (including major political lobbying heavyweight FreedomWorks) is turning on him is because they believe he’s too moderate. It makes me chuckle that at the selfsame moment Americans are demanding a government that “works” we’re also purging our legislative bodies of all reasonable, compromising politicians. Maybe a gridlocked Washington really is the government we deserve. 
For me, this is a classic example of why the open primary (Louisiana primary) system would be a better model for nominating candidates. Even though Hatch may be "too moderate" for his Tea Party constituents, he might be just moderate enough for a general election. 


  1. I really agree with you as to how irrational primary voters and political organizations are - it's surprising to me that electability is so often an afterthought, rather than at the forefront of the conversation. I do wonder if this is more of an issue for Republicans rather than Democrats, though. Are Republicans just more inclined to stick to their guns, as we heard from Representative Price? Or is compromise as a universal value being sacrificed in favor of strict faith to the party? I think open primaries would return the issue of electability to voters- with traditional primaries, issue-specific organizations and PAC's have too much of a say and favor more polarizing candidates.

  2. It is truly an example of the polarization of Washington as a response to a polarized electorate. Here the electorate is being presented with a moderate candidate and yet are choosing to move farther to the right. That said, it would be interesting to see what would happen if an open primary system were to take hold in which the groups critical of Hatch have proportionally less of a voice.

  3. Orrin Hatch provides a unique case study where he seemingly embodies everything that is wrong with congress, while also being pushed out on allegations that he is overwhelmingly moderate, a stance that could potentially aid in overcoming gridlock. I think this exposes third party interest groups, such as FreedomWorks, as the engine that demands a partisan stance from our representatives. Theoretically, as mentioned in the post, the “old boys club” of congress can be pointed to as the source for gridlock and unwillingness to compromise. However, Senator Hatch is being eviscerated because of his approach that resembles the antithesis of unwillingness, but instead reeks of moderation. It would be interesting to see how his campaign would fare in the arena suggested, the open primary. With such a hyper-partisan American demographic, would voters be willing to meet in the middle and elect a notoriously moderate candidate?