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.