Once upon a time, I considered myself a Centrist. I often voted for Republicans, and would vote for those individuals again, because they were more progressive than many Democrats at that time. However, over the years, the entire political spectrum in the US has shifted so far to the right, that what used to be the middle has become the far left. The Republican Party has purged their progressive and moderate candidates. We need a strong progressive movement to shift the spectrum back far enough to recover the middle.
The re-emergence of a Democratic left will be one of the major stories of 2014. Moderates, don’t be alarmed. The return of a viable, vocal left will actually be good news for the political center.
For a long time, the American conversation has been terribly distorted by the existence of an active, uncompromising political right unbalanced by a comparably influential left. As a result, our entire debate has been dragged more and more in a conservative direction, meaning that the center is pushed that way too.
Consider what this means in practice. Obamacare is not a left-wing program, no matter how often conservatives might say it is. Its structure is based on conservative ideas. The individual mandate was the conservatives’ alternative to a mandate on employers. The health care exchanges are an alternative to government-provided medicine on the Medicare model.
Obamacare is complex because the government is trying to create a marketplace in which people shop for private insurance and receive government subsidies if they need them. It goes to a lot of trouble to preserve the private insurance market. The system does not even include a government plan as one option among many.
But once conservatives succeeded in pulling the health care debate to where they had always wanted it, they abandoned the concepts they pioneered and denounced Obamacare as a socialist scheme. It’s a classic case of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose politics: Move toward me, and I’ll just keep moving further away from you… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Truthdig>
Photo Credit: Tim Pierce
Isn’t that exactly what Republicans have done? The surest way Obama has had to defeat a Republican idea has been to agree with it. The Democratic Party needs to follow the lead of strong progressives liked Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Only by refusing to allow Republicans to move the center to the right, by moving the goalposts with every new offer can we recover the middle, and that means drawing a lines in the sand that force Republicans to either move left or face the wrath of American voters, for sabotaging the policies that Americans support.