This is not happening...
This is not happening... abadonian/gettyimages.com

The Seattle Times's article, "Amid the heated Rossi and Schrier battle, Washington state’s 8th District voters tell us what matters," is the illusion of a balancing act. What the article wants its readers to believe is that there is something (a ball, a length of rope, a beam) that requires the difficult trick of balancing when, in fact, there is nothing there at all.

Seattle Times's Nina Shapiro writes:

There is among [white voters in the 8th District a] near universal disdain for the divisiveness of current politics — blamed not so much on President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, as liberals see it, but on extremes that have taken over both parties.

This is a false spectrum. There is no politics in the normal sense that begins with Trump and ends, with, say, Bernie Sanders. The actual spectrum begins with moderate Dems (for example, the Clintons), and ends with socialists. In between are progressives (market-sympathetic lefties) and social democrats. In this normal spectrum, the GOP would be moderate Dems (neoliberals). But the politics of the GOP party can no longer be measured as normal. It operates within an entirely different political spectrum (and there should be no confusion about this). The rupture between the GOP's spectrum and the normal one is it faces democracy as its primary obstacle.

The GOP has no choice in this matter. It can only exist by blocking the full expression of democracy. The pressures of this condition have resulted in a super-party that ultimately has no moderates. It's a party that must undermine or eliminate democratic institutions, over-represent white voters, and intensify racial passions. It is the party that calls leading black politicians cotton pickers, monkeys, and criminals. Voting for Dino Rossi only means voting for this kind of extremism and nothing else.

Support The Stranger

In short, there actually are no "extremes" in "both parties." This bothsidesism is bogus. The US has two major political orders: one, that's a hypertrophied form of extreme politics, and one that can be described as standard politics. To say otherwise is to normalize a politics that, by all appearance and evidence, could only be fully expressed in an environment that has eliminated democracy.

It is true that the standard spectrum is by no means perfect or without its flaws. But its moderates (essentially what Republicans imagine themselves to be in the fiction of bothsidesism) cannot all be lumped with the GOP. This is the mistake that socialist politicians like Kshama Sawant make again and again. The cosmopolitanism of neoliberalism is not different from the cosmopolitanism of the left—French sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello call this the "cultural critique" in their 1999 book, The New Spirit of Capitalism. The moderate Dems still operate within the spectrum of standard democracy, and could even exist in a state that's governed by social democratic principles. The Golden Years of Capitalism and Scandinavian state capitalism makes this fact clear.

The defining difference between cosmopolitan neoliberalism and socialism is distributional (what Boltanski and Chiapello call the "social critique"). The nature of production itself—what a society makes, grows, and so on—is rarely considered in a meaningful manner. A production that's based on growth can be socialist and neoliberal. But one based on, say, the laws of thermodynamics (or a fully expressed eco-economics, or neo-physiocracy) would dissolve standard, distributional politics as we know it.