Why Washington is More Right-Wing Than the Rest of the Country

We recently had John Avlon on the program and he is a devout "centrist." That used to mean that you were somewhere on the political spectrum between the left and the right. It now means that you set up false equivalencies between the left and the right and call everything even no matter what.

I'm an actual centrist. I used to be a liberal Republican from the North East. Of course, no such thing exists anymore. I'm against affirmative action. I'm a deficit hawk (except I believe we should balance the budget by not just cutting "entitlements" but also by cutting the Pentagon and raising taxes). I was for the Persian Gulf War but against the Iraq War. I am against Bush or Obama violating civil liberties or abusing executive authority.

So, in the country I'm right in the middle of the political spectrum. There is hardly a national poll that doesn't agree with my political position. Hence, I am now considered a raging liberal in Washington. Apparently, I am so far left now that Obama is significantly to the right of me.

How does that make sense? It doesn't, in any place outside of DC. But what's maddening is that no one acknowledges two things: 1. How far to the right of the country Washington is. 2. How far the political spectrum has moved to the right.

Why is Washington more right-wing than the rest of the nation? Because that's where power and the establishment reside. Power is by nature conservative -- it wants to protect its current privileged position. That's not nefarious, it's natural. But not acknowledging that is silly. The establishment loves the status quo, because that's what got them their current position. Why would they want to change that?

And how can anyone consider themselves a political analyst and not see how far to the right we have moved as a country? Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex. If he had said that now, people would say he's weak on national security and doesn't support the troops. And he was a Republican. Truman ran on single payer healthcare -- Obama wouldn't even consider that. Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency. Reagan sold arms to terrorists, negotiated with the evil empire, raised taxes eleven times, ran from Lebanon. Are you absolutely sure that Obama is to the left of Reagan?

Watch this debate with John Avlon, the author of Wingnuts, How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, and see if you really think there is such a thing as the hard left in this country and whether they are anywhere near as extreme as the hard right:

One other thing that we touched on in this conversation was the idea of corporatism. Being against corporatists doesn't mean you're anti-business. There is this absurd myth that liberals are anti-business. What does that mean? Liberals don't want there to be any more businesses? Does anyone really believe that? Liberals, centrists and conservatives have no problem with business as long as they are not taking our taxpayer money!

Do conservatives want trillions of taxpayer money going to Wall Street banks? My understanding was that they hated the bailouts. Do conservatives want taxpayers rather than BP to pay for the clean up of the oil spill in the Gulf? Well, I hope not.

Maybe some of the conservative leaders who take money from oil companies want that to happen -- but that's the whole point. The politicians aren't working for us anymore, liberals or conservatives. They are not driven by ideology. They're driven by whoever pays them, which is the lobbyists. Seventy percent of campaign contributions come from corporations. Now who do you think the politicians are going to work for?

Being against corporate control of our democracy shouldn't be a liberal position. It should be a universal position. It's not that multi-national corporations are evil, it's just that they're amoral. They are unconcerned with American taxpayers or citizens; they are concerned only with profits. That is what they have to be by law. It's absurd to argue otherwise.

Yet, the conventional wisdom in DC is that people who are worried about corporatist influence on American politics are far left crazies. They're not crazy, they're awake. And they're not even liberals, they're every American who is sick of their politicians being bought by the highest bidder. That's all of us, except the "centrists" in DC.

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Billy Graham & the Rise of the Republican South: An Interview With Historian Steven P. Miller

PhotobucketThe topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

In the age of Barack Obama, both the Republican Party as well as the South appear marginalized and out of step with the rest of America. Yet it wasn't so long ago that the South represented the foundation of America's conservative hegemony. Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, the Republican Party prevailed in nine out of the next fourteen presidential elections with a reliable Southern base.

Specifically, the Republican Party exploited white Southern resentment against the cause of civil rights and integration. The "Southern strategy" as it was later called, enabled Republicans to end the Democratic Party's previous domination of the South following the Civil War. A key figure in that realignment was the renowned evangelist Billy Graham.

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Obama and New Media Moving Forward

The Associated Press' Phil Elliott has an interesting article on the wires today about Barack Obama and the new media that I was able to provide a comment for and which I would like to flesh out a bit more.

President-elect Barack Obama is refereeing a struggle between liberal activists, who want to help their candidate score rapid wins in Washington, and party traditionalists who would turn his powerful grass-roots organization over to the Democratic National Committee.

Any mishandling by Obama and his aides could cost him support from factions that were crucial to his Nov. 4 victory and that remain important to his hopes of launching a smooth administration in January.

A top Obama aide sent a note this weekend to progressive activists, imploring them to cool down and let Obama govern. Other aides are helping Obama decide what to do with the campaign's massive mobilizing tools, which include millions of e-mail addresses of citizens with proven records of giving Obama money or other means of support.

Many of Obama's younger and more liberal supporters -- sometimes collectively called "netroots" because the Internet is their chief communications tool -- want to remain a political and social force that is not subsumed by the Democratic Party.

"This can't just be about Obama or the Obama movement," said Jonathan Singer, a blogger at the progressive MyDD. "It has to be greater than that."

Singer and others do not want the far-flung, electronically connected army to become nothing more than a DNC e-mail list.

One of the things I spoke to Elliott about was the desire not to see Obama repeat the mistakes of Dwight Eisenhower.

When Eisenhower was elected by a wide margin in 1952, and reelected by an even wider margin in 1956, he cut against the trend of the then recent history of Democratic successes in the previous five presidential elections -- not to dissimilar from Obama's victory cutting against the grain of five Republican victories in the previous seven presidential elections. He did so on the basis of a grassroots organization, but also much like Obama, Eisenhower was able to exploit a newly developing medium -- in his case television -- to usher in a new era of how candidates and elected officials interact with the populace.

Eisenhower was highly successful in achieving some very important policy ends (ending the War in Korea, establishing the modern interstate highway system and dramatically increasing federal support for education through the National Defense Education Act spring to mind. What's more, he was highly popular with the American public throughout this time.

Yet for all of the personal successes enjoyed by Eisenhower, the Republican Party did not reap very many benefits. This isn't to say, of course, that the primary end of an administration should be to further the aspirations of the party to which the President belongs, because it's not. That said, the party in power should have the opportunity to grow and be rewarded in the event that the policies put in place by that party's administration are successful. And during the Eisenhower administration, the Republican Party did not by and large grow (or certainly at least not to the extent that Eisenhower's popularity outstripped that of his predecessor, Harry Truman), and a period of 40 years in exile for House Republicans and 26 years in exile for Senate Republicans -- both of whom had been competitive in elections prior to the Eisenhower administration -- were ushered in during Eisenhower's watch.

It was with this in mind that I said, "This can't just be about Obama or the Obama movement... It has to be greater than that." And I expect it to. Obama has the chance to fundamentally alter the way that Americans interact with their government, through the list his campaign currently holds and through the list he will be able to build in the White House. If these lists become just about President Obama or his administration, they are not likely to have the lasting power that they could have if they are about fostering a broader movement, for policy change and change in the way we conduct our politics, a broader movement that could have the potential of (though the primary aim of which need not be) altering the partisan balance of the country.  This is what I am expecting, and certainly also hoping, to see moving forward.

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Tell theTruth: Are You A Liar?

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The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

So when did you first realize our country was led by liars? Was there a particular incident, campaign or speech resulting in an epiphany? Did a cynical role model let you know our country's decision makers could not be trusted to tell the truth?

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