The New "Center" Has Moved Left

At every possible opportunity I love to point out I am a centrist. Today, in seeming response to silliness like this from ABC, E. J. Dionne points out:

. . . Whenever you use the word "left" in American politics, you feel almost compelled to add quotation marks. Today's left is not talking about nationalizing industry, abolishing capitalism or destroying the rich. What passes for "left" in American politics is quite moderate by historical standards.

Still, cliches die hard, so you hear such 20-year-old questions as: "Are Democrats moving too far to the left?" or "Will Democrats abandon the center?" This approach is about abstractions, not concrete political problems, and it misses the dynamic in American public life, which is the move away from the right and a discrediting of the conservative era. The political "center" of today is not where the "center" was even five years ago.

. . . [T]he "good ideas" that voters are demanding mostly have to do with problems that have been framed by the left, not the right: the need to disengage from Iraq, to create health security, to ease economic inequalities. It's time to update our sense of where the political center lies and to adjust our view of "the left" accordingly.

Hear, hear!

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    It's simple (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Al on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:34:14 PM EST
    There is no such thing as "the left" in the American political spectrum. In France, yes. But not in America.

    You should be aware that "the left" (or, as PPJ writes it, The Left) is a label used mostly by people like PPJ to frighten small children (or adults with the mental age of small children). "Leftist" means "raving lunatic who wants to install communism". It also serves to forestall debate on actual issues.

    "Centrist" means "I'm against the war in Iraq but please don't think I'm a raving lunatic who wants to install communism".

    Don't fall into the label trap. Stick to the issues.

    There is always a left (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by manys on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:45:18 PM EST
    It's just that some countries' left is further left than other countries. That the US left is further right than you'd like makes no difference unless you're planning on running for a left-wing office in France (for instance)

    This is the pernicious effect of the Republicans accusing the media of left-wing bias. Left and Right are relative compared to the country itself and as compared to other countries. The MSM accusations only serve as a prod for them to kowtow further and further to the right. It's not that they're actually left-biased, it's that they aren't in line with Repubs enough. It's a subtle transformation of oppositional politics, "if you're not with us, you're against us," applied to media criticism.


    The working defintions (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:52:44 PM EST
    of left and right have, since the rise of corporate media sponsorship, been framed by the same people that decided "Cuba cant win" i.e., ever be portrayed in a positive light, and, that the most inflammatory rhetoric of the McCarthy era was essentially accurate; that there is such a thing as class in the U.S, but no inherent conflict between class interests; that "the people have spoken" and decided that the only worthwhile representatives are those that recieve 60% corporate sponsorship and those that recieve 40% etc If any of this doctrinal, recieved opinion of "the center" is questioned too vigorously, in too public a forum, phone calls are made and continued sponsorship threatened. As the man said, so it goes.

    Right v left is the argument they want . (none / 0) (#3)
    by dkmich on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 02:43:05 PM EST
    The real argument is have mores v. have nots.  When on when will we quit letting them set the debate.  

    exactly right (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:42:09 PM EST
    the more(ons)* are always using race, nationality, religion etc. to divide and distract from what the actual problem is.

    *Smothers Brothers:

    Tom: You can tell who's running the country by how much clothes people wear, see?
    Dick: Do you mean that some people can afford more clothes on, and some people have... less on? Is that what you mean?
    Tom: That's right.
    Dick: I don't understand.
    Tom: See, the ordinary people, you'd say that the ordinary people are the less-ons.
    Dick: So who's running the country?
    Tom: The morons.

    Ba-da Bing... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by desertswine on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:16:38 PM EST
    How odd (none / 0) (#4)
    by Alien Abductee on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:06:13 PM EST
    to have a country with political representation on the right but none at all self-declared as such on the left. Kind of like a bird with one wing.

    Seems lopsided and frankly weird to me.

    We've been stuck with ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Meteor Blades on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:36:51 PM EST
    ...what is essentially a construct from the French Revolution. What is "left" today - or what is called "left" - is most assuredly not what it was yesterday (and that applies to both America AND France).

    No surprise. What would the partisans of the Resistance have thought of gay marriage or "free" trade or single-payer health care?

    I'd love it if we could eschew labels altogether, as It's Simple argues above. When pressed, I always qualify and the hyphenation goes rampant. What one word (please, not "lunatic") describes a socialist-feminist-environmentalist, fair-trade-backing, anti-imperialist gun-owner anyway? Not "centrist," that's all I can say for certain.


    What one word (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:35:47 PM EST
    describes a socialist-feminist-environmentalist, fair-trade-backing, anti-imperialist gun-owner anyway?



    Where are the real lefties? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Aaron on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 10:41:56 PM EST
    I don't even see them on this blog anymore, and this is one of the few places where you could actually find some.

    It seems the far left has all but disappeared from mainstream political discussion.  That's a real victory for the conservatives and one of the reasons why they will continue to hold onto power, even after they lose the presidency.

    If no one speaks for the left, then by default the right will continue to hold sway.