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Centrist Insurgency to Flip Five
Americans want a debate between moderates in the House, not Extreme vs. More Extreme. Let's give it to them by welcoming in five vulnerable GOP Problem Solvers into a stable governing coalition.
When the House Republican Caucus meets today, they will engage in a conversation Americans manifestly do not want: extreme, or more extreme?
The “Scalise vs. Jordan” speaker fight should not be driving the debate. This re-negotiation over House control is about leverage, and moderates in the GOP Caucus can only get it by threatening to join with Democrats.
Someone needs to do what the Problem Solvers Caucus has been building up to: leverage an organized group of moderate House members to create a bipartisan governing coalition. Moderate Democrats appear primed to welcome them, reaching out across the aisle: Leader Hakeem Jeffries offered a deal before McCarthy fell, penned a Washington Post op-ed on Friday calling for a bipartisan path forward, and on Sunday continued calls for an “enlightened bipartisan path forward.”
The Enlightenment could be sparked by any one Republican member of the Problem Solvers Caucus. Playing kingmaker requires just four other colleagues – a group half the size of the Gaetz rebellion that dethroned Kevin McCarthy.
For centrists, this is a clarifying moment – one that, if we miss, we'll look back upon as an opportunity lost. Should we seize it – if we flex now to build the muscles that will bring strength to bear later -- the speakership fight of Autumn 2023 could be remembered as a signal episode in the democracy salvaging movement.
There are 11 Republican Problem Solvers who represent districts won by Joe Biden, and whose membership has demonstrated a commitment to bipartisan governing. The “Problem Solvers” model has worked politically as well: elections analysts at Split-Ticket showed that they over-perform by 3.2%, more than any other caucus (followed by their potential partners in the Blue Dog Caucus at 1.2%). But now they are in a pickle. If they vote for Speaker Jim Jordan – or Speaker Trump – those members are very likely to lose re-election in a presidential year. A half-turn towards sanity also does not look promising: most of their colleagues who demonstrated courage lost primaries or retired, like Peter Meijer, Liz Cheney, Anthony Gonzalez, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Fred Upton, John Katko, and Tom Rice. There is one option left, but they have never seen a peer flip: no Republican has publicly threatened to flip their vote, and the only party-switcher in the Trump era is Jeff Van Drew going from Democrat to Republican.
A unified, pragmatic Democratic Caucus awaits. And the most fun part? All it takes is one to signal openness, and the media thirst for conflict will do the rest – throwing out the infighting among extremists to focus on moderates. And after stabilizing the House, the pre-existing bipartisan credentials of this quintet would only elevate the influence of the caucus.
The 11 Republican Problem Solvers on blue turf need to know there’s a safe home waiting for them. And their constituents need to know they are making this decision – and that Jordan vs. Scalise is not what they want.
What You Can Do
Go to www.FlipFive.org for the full pitch, and follow @Flip5 on Twitter. But here are a few action items for how centrists can flip the script on the extremists who hijacked the GOP, our politics, and our country.
Citizens - Call the offices of the Problem Solvers (numbers here), tag them on Twitter with @Flip5, and reach out to friends & family in New York, California, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania to call the district offices of the members, chip in to communicate with their voters, and give us your ideas.
Republican Problem Solvers - Reach out to the moderate group you trust the most and ask how to navigate the vote flip. We know this ain’t easy for you, but DM us @Flip5 or contact any of the moderate Democratic or pro-democracy conservative groups out there. They know how to find us. There are people here to help.
Democratic Problem Solvers - We know the GOP Problem Solvers are really angry, but they have that little voice inside their head too. And the siren song of playing kingmaker, stabilizing American democracy, and winning re-election in a landslide will be alluring once they hear it (think of your own thought process; it’s how you won your seat!) . Check out Representatives MGP and Pat Ryan for talking points.
And let us know what else we should be doing. Together.
In 2023, we called out the missing middle in January’s DC speaker fight in contrast to the Laboratories of Centrism driving bipartisan governing coalitions in state legislatures. This fall we’ve highlighted the need for muscle-building in the centrist political entrepreneurial ecosystem through “Centrist School”.
The opportunity is there. Pragmatic Democrats in the House are ready to play ball - let’s go solve a big problem and give Americans what they want.