Two comments about your latest column, Mr. Brooks.
First of all, the perception of a gap in the political center is largely illusory. Burkean, constitutional conservatives like yourself have been supplanted in the Republican Party by primitive authoritarian extremists. Authoritarian politicians and media regularly demonize those who do not agree with them, including moderates and moderate conservatives, as leftwing extremists. To the extent we have been persuaded that the classic American mainstream is "socialist" we are in big trouble. Characterizing any government role as "socialism" is part of a strategy to shift power wholesale from representative government to private sector powers that prey on the people and are completely unaccountable to them.
Second, the rot in our political culture is rooted in the rot in our business culture, specifically the executives governing our large banks and multinational corporations. The political culture in Washington is corrupt to the extent it is captive to a business culture that has become intolerably corrupt. The governing culture of our large business organizations has radically changed over the past forty years. Institutions that once acted as a check on management have been effectively eviscerated - boards of directors, shareholder rights, unions, the media and government regulatory oversight. Business management at the top of our most powerful private entities has become increasingly authoritarian, predatory and parasitic.
Concurrent with and abetting this radical and destructive change in business management culture has been the rise of demonizing rightwing media. Not religion per se but hate is the opiate of the people. Demonizing hate is highly addictive and very pleasurable. It also destroys judgment, making the susceptible very easy to deceive. Thus, their anger has been cleverly misdirected from the true miscreants onto convenient scapegoats, either vulnerable minorities or anyone who represents a threat to the true miscreants.
The real belief of Adam Smith and the Founders, as opposed to the tripe, was that free markets without government oversight were impossible, since powerful private players would immediately rig the markets and cheat the less powerful. Their idea of libertarianism was government that policed the market with restraint, not toothless, blind or non-existent government oversight.