Republicans often respond when they are accused of extremism that Democrats are equally to blame. Certainly there are extremist elements on both sides. However, among our nationally elected officials there are undeniable differences between the parties in the proportion of those having moderate or extreme political leanings.

While in Congress the ratio of moderates to extremists among Democrats has remained unremarkably stable over the last decade, economic strife and the Republican response in recent years has strongly skewed their political mix to the far right. Subsequently, an uncompromising obstructionist attitude by Republicans against any and all outside initiatives, while unable themselves to offer suitable alternatives, has handicapped the quality of our political discourse and the functioning of our government.

Extremism on either side has never been well received by the majority of Americans, who have always favored more balanced leadership. Consider the failed presidential election bids of Barry Goldwater and George McGovern and more recently that of Mitt Romney, who consistently pandered to tea party fears. If Republicanism is to recapture any relevancy in American life, it will need to shed its rigid extremism for a more productive, broadly believable and inclusive position that is nearer the center.

Andrew McDonald