Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Real Political Spectrum

There's a meme repeated by all good progressives that says that Obama is a moderate who moves to the right in order to appease conservatives; thus making him a moderate-conservative.  And this is based upon a model of the political spectrum which puts them on the left, anything that Congress might consider in the middle, and anything that Congress passes on the right.

For example, in the healthcare debate, single-payer healthcare was the leftie position, regulated insurance exchanges with a public option was the compromise position, and regulated insurance exchanes sans public option was the rightie position.  And for this to make sense, we're to imagine that Republicans are just playing games with us, and for as much as they opposed Obama, it was just a ruse to get him to move to the rightie position.  And sure, they'll say, Obama put a few worthless provisions into healthcare that Republicans really didn't like; so that makes him a moderate-conservative, rather than a full-on conservative.

But that's complete garbage and ignores the true depth of the political spectrum.  Because yes, there are no real progressives in Congress, and a true leftie position isn't considered acceptable.  But...there are no hardcore righties in Congress either, as the true rightie position isn't acceptable either.  The furthest Congress will go is to suggest we end Social Security and a few other popular programs; but none of them will go as far as a real rightie wants.

Beyond Bachmann

A blogger at RedState recently attacked Congressman Cantor's YouCut website, for only offering 0.5% budget cuts, insisting that "This at a time when we should be looking at serious annual budget cuts on the order of 25-30%."   I seriously doubt anyone in Congress would say such a thing, which is why these people are angry at the Republican Party.

To many on the far-right, Limbaugh is a moderate.  Seriously.  They see him as a mainstream figure and anyone to the left of him is an anti-American freak.  They don't just oppose Obama's plans, they want to abolish the entire federal government, beyond the essentials (ie, national defense).  Seriously, they're against all labor laws (including child labor laws), government-approved medicines, and other standard policies of safety that everyone takes for granted.

And of course, these are the issues that the original progressives were fighting for.  It was about protecting twelve-year-old factory workers, not single-payer insurance.  Yet, modern-progressives take all this for granted and insist that anyone who only wants a little more regulation of Big Business is right-leaning.  Yes, by European standards, America isn't liberal.  But as compared to historical standards, we're downright progressive. 

If FDR is the standard for liberals, then Obama's got to be some kind of liberal, as he accepts FDR's policies and has taken them slightly to the left. 

The Real Conservative Positions

And even conservatives in Congress are much further to the right than progressives seem to imagine.  After all, Republicans once controlled the Whitehouse and Congress.  If they wanted a healthcare reform like Obama got for us, they would have done it. 

But they didn't.  Nor did they give us a stimulus bill, or a jobs bill, or extended unemployment, or student loan reform, or any of the other things Obama got for us.  Instead, they would have given us more war, more cronyism, and more tax cuts for the rich.  Even their Medicare drug plan was a joke, designed more to help Big Pharma than providing care to the elderly.  The far-right position on healthcare reform started at Status Quo and quickly delved into a complete removal of the few safeguards we had.  Hell, that was part of McCain's platform in 2008, and conservatives think McCain is a liberal-leaning sell-out.  Regulated insurance exchanges weren't even a blip on their radar.

So the right isn't anywhere close to Obama's position.  The political spectrum doesn't just run from Single-Payer to Insurance Exchanges.  It runs from Libertarian Communism to Libertarian Capitalism; with both ends of the spectrum insisting that government is the problem, and we'd be better off without it completely.  So if your political spectrum doesn't account for the whackjobs who want to abolish the Federal Government, it's not a valid spectrum. 

So yes, Obama and Congressional Democrats are to the right of progressives.  But no, that doesn't make them conservative-leaning.  There's a whole other depth of crazy that not only sees Obama's policies as Marxist, but want to turn back the progress of the last hundred and fifty years.  By comparison with them, Congressal Republicans are almost sensible.

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