When we combined voters' answers to the 14 issue questions to form a liberal-conservative scale (answers were divided into five equivalent categories based on overall liberalism vs. conservatism), 86 percent of Democratic voters were on the liberal side of the scale while 80 percent of Republican voters were on the conservative side. Only 10 percent of all voters were in the center. The visual representation of the nation's voters isn't a nicely shaped bell, with most voters in the moderate middle. It's a sharp V.
This is not surprising. Washington pundits push "moderation" as a virtue to aspire to, when what they really mean is, "Liberals, don't want what you want all the time, want what I want instead half the time, so I don't have to feel so icky about having given Dick Cheney head for the past six years."
In fact, the nation is politically divided. We have different values, we want different things, and we reason differently. The main impetus for this is that the right has lost its collective mind since 9/11. They're both stupid and crazy, which became crystal clear to liberals the moment we realized Bush seriously intended to invade Iraq and the wingnuts supported it.
Still, it is possible to compromise with stupid, crazy people. You start with what smart, sane people want, and always keeping in mind that some things are never acceptable, try to mold a solution that meets enough of the stupid, crazy people's concerns that a positive outcome occurs. But whatever results from this process, please do not call it a principled moderate position that people should aspire to. That ten percent of all people the story identified who were neither liberal nor conservative are either too lazy or too busy to actually decide things for themselves. They are not to be emulated.
Also, never think the business of compromising with the stupid, crazy people will be fun or easy. They will bash us every chance they get, because they think as little of us as we think of them. (I am glad, since conservatives as a whole right now are not people I would enjoy having the respect of.) And all we can do is bash their stupidity and craziness, and try to split off as many of the salvagable ones as possible. Rub their faces in the consequences of the years of their misrule. Humiliate them so completely that the ones who still have a brain cell think, "Hey, why am I still voting for these losers?"
Now is not the time to make nice-nice with the conservative firebreathers. Now is the time to kick them in the balls.