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Polarizing centrism
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Master_Pedant
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:47 pm    Post subject: Polarizing centrism Reply with quote

To calm down the political atmosphere in Washington, the Democrats have to move sharply to the left.

Paul Rosenberg wrote:
For 80 years, the GOP had been the party of Wall Street, Democrats the party of the little guy, and this had worked out well for the Democrats. But two consecutive "centrist" presidents moved the Democrats substantially to the right, particularly on economics, erasing the last 80 years of history and putting conservative Republicans back in charge.

True, many people mistook Barack Obama for a great liberal white knight - no doubt over-interpreting his cautiously limited speech against the Iraq War while running for Illinois State Senate in October 2002. Not to mention, he was black. But the counter-indications were equally clear for those willing to see - not least the speech that put him on the map nationally, the 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, where he claimed, "There are no red states, there are no blue states, there are only these United States of America."

"Clinton and Obama were the two most conservative Democratic presidents since the 19th century, who moved the party rightward, just as political elites said they should in order to revive their party."

Obama aimed to minimise or circumvent the culture wars, in order to strike a set of "grand bargains" that would purportedly solve the United States' big problems - a thoroughly centrist, thoroughly technocratic ambition, identified with the broader political philosophy of "neoliberalism", a throw-back to 19th-century, pre-New Deal liberalism which generally adopts a market-based outlook on the world, purportedly benefiting free trade and small businesses, but actually benefiting large-scale oligopolies like health insurance companies, Wall Street banks, large-scale mercenary organisations and other big winners of the Obama era.

...

The objective political conservatism of Clinton and Obama has been masked by numerous factors - not least the intense rightward shift of the United States' political elites over the past 30-40 years, and the attendant marginalisation of left-liberal voices. Also, both men play-act the role of liberals with considerable aplomb, while the term itself has become more associated with social policies, rather than economic ones. Still, it remains the case - supported by two centuries of role-call data in Congress, along with more than half a century of combined public opinion research- that government activism in economic policy is the dominant dimension of American politics, the primary determinant of what counts as liberal and conservative, and both men have shown an unprecedented willingness to abandon traditional Democratic economic policy.

...

Objectively, neoliberals moved closer to conservatives, closing the gap between the two parties. But psychologically, the story was dramatically different: the more Clinton or Obama moved toward conservatives, the more trapped, the more claustrophobic conservatives felt. This was a natural expression of conservatives' inherently hostile attitude toward political group differences and the exact opposite of the dominant liberal/pragmatic attitude, which favours compromise over ideological purity. Gallup polling in 2010 and 2011 underscored these fundamental attitudinal differences.

While neoliberals saw their moves to the centre as inherently conflict-reducing, conservatives saw those moves as deeply threatening. After all, if Clinton or Obama were willing to work with them, there had to be something rotten going on. However, there was no obvious reality-based way to articulate this, since Clinton and Obama actually were quite close to conservative thinking in major ways.

Instead, Clinton and Obama's rightward moves gave rise to two types of conservative reaction. First was an intense explosion of conspiracism, which allowed for the interpolation of vast imaginary political space into a highly compressed political spectrum where no such actual space exists. The militia movement under Clinton and the Tea Party under Obama both traffic heavily in this sort of imaginary, often deeply paranoid politics. (Birth certificates, anyone?)

Second was a vast rightward re-definition of what conservatism means, thus creating substantial new space between (neo)-liberals and conservatives. In early 2008, Bush proposed and Congress passed a $200bn stimulus package. True, it was chock-full of relatively ineffective tax cuts, but its justification was the same as that for Obama's larger stimulus package a year later. That's partially why Obama optimistically expected to get about half of the Senate Republicans to support the stimulus bill. Instead, he got three. The conservatives' sudden discovery that the conservative individual health care mandate is unconstitutional is another high-profile example of this characteristic response.


http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/06/20126171081642558.html
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TM
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is quite accurate, where FDR was in line, if not to the left of his contemporary European colleagues, Obama is currently to the right of the right wing in Europe.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TM wrote:
This is quite accurate, where FDR was in line, if not to the left of his contemporary European colleagues, Obama is currently to the right of the right wing in Europe.


Are you saying the right wing in Europe is really left?

ruveyn
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Oodain
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

politics are rleative there is no true global center
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TM
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruveyn wrote:
TM wrote:
This is quite accurate, where FDR was in line, if not to the left of his contemporary European colleagues, Obama is currently to the right of the right wing in Europe.


Are you saying the right wing in Europe is really left?

ruveyn


It depends on what you measure it by. If you measure it by the US Republican Party, Thatcher seems like Fidel Castro. I'm saying that the democratic party measured by European standards is very much right wing and the republican party is the reactionary right.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TM wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
TM wrote:
This is quite accurate, where FDR was in line, if not to the left of his contemporary European colleagues, Obama is currently to the right of the right wing in Europe.


Are you saying the right wing in Europe is really left?

ruveyn


It depends on what you measure it by. If you measure it by the US Republican Party, Thatcher seems like Fidel Castro. I'm saying that the democratic party measured by European standards is very much right wing and the republican party is the reactionary right.


The scales for Europe and the U.S. are quite different.

ruveyn
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The democrats are paid to lose.

Bernie Sanders 2016
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Master_Pedant
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given the GOP freakout over Obama's re-election, this seems relevant again.
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