Collins's pieces on the NY Times Op-Ed page have been pretty hit-or-miss for me, but today's nails it as far as I'm concerned.
When an extremely intelligent politician tells you over and over and over that he is tired of the take-no-prisoners politics of the last several decades, that he is going to get things done and build a “new consensus,” he is trying to explain that he is all about compromise. Even if he says it in that great Baracky way.Exactly. It struck me early on in the process that the most progressive candidates for most issues were, oddly enough, the white guys. Kucinich, Dodd, Edwards--they were the real progressive standard-bearers for universal health care, same-sex marriage, aid for the poor, et cetera. The first front-running woman and African-American candidates were centrists, and didn't pretend to be otherwise.
I didn't get worked up about that, because I expected it--progressives are, and always will be, a fringe group, and fringe groups don't get their candidates nominated for national office for the most part. Sure, there's a Goldwater once in a lifetime, but no one wants a beatdown like that. Politicians are risk-averse, no question, but so are voters.
Anyway, Collins's piece is good, and you should read the whole thing.