Independent ratings show Lipinski, a second-term Democrat representing the Southwest Side and southwest suburbs, actually voted with the Republican president less than 20 percent of the time this year (down from about half the time in 2006). But he has backed President Bush in at least one key vote on the Iraq war -- and he has suggested war opponents are better-served by working across party lines than by sending withdrawal timelines for repeated presidential vetoes.
That, in the new Democratic Congress, is enough to draw Lipinski an Internet-fueled primary challenge from the left.
It's an ageless debate with new technology. Primary fights often turn on the ideological divisions between small sets of voters. Former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, estimates that only 1/24th of American voters decide each party's primary -- the most active of the activists, liberal on the left and conservative on the right.
"The center of American politics, in Congress, is exceptionally weak," Leach said.
As constant readers may know I started this blog because I was frustrated with the limited voice of the center – in the media in general and the blogosphere in particular. I think that most Americans hear the chatter at both ends of the spectrum and come down closer to the middle. The center may have a small voice – but I wouldn’t call it weak.