A “Center-Right” Country?

We hear repeatedly that President Obama and the Democrats’ shouldn’t attempt any boldly progressive reforms because we live in a “center-right” country. Pundits like Charles Krauthammer, when they’re not warning us about the danger of deficits they helped Bush create, constantly tell us that any problem in Washington stems from the Democrats not accepting that America is a “center-right” country. Implicit in this view is that the majority of Americans look to the Republicans for leadership.

But despite the propaganda, public opinion polls consistently show that most people favor a public health care option; don’t like the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan; believe the military budget is too big; and love Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. Even the Defense Secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorse the idea that gay and lesbian military personnel should have the same rights as heterosexuals. Polls also show that most people despise Wall Street; hate “partisan bickering” (which is pretty much all the Republicans know how to do); and don’t like the way money has corrupted Washington. These trends are not new. In 1980 and 1984, Ronald Reagan won two decisive elections but polls then showed that most people opposed many of his key policies.

From 1954 to 1994 this “center-right” country elected a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. During the Clinton years NAFTA, the WTO, and deregulating the Telecom and “Financial Services” industries were extremely unpopular. In 2000, this “center-right” country required five right-wing members of the Supreme Court to shoehorn Bush into the presidency. In 2002, this “center-right” country had to be lied to about “weapons of mass destruction” to bring it to war against Iraq. In 2006, this “center-right” country threw out the Republicans from both chambers of Congress, and then two-years later elected a Democratic president who is African American.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that in this “center-right” country the Republicans have to hide their true intentions and falsify their agenda to shield it from public scrutiny. Frank Luntz has a thriving business based entirely on misrepresenting and twisting right-wing ideas to make them sound palatable. If this were a “center-right” country the Republican ideas that Luntz and his imitators hawk would be lapped up without all the dishonest “focus-grouped” embroidery.

Similarly, George W. Bush owned a Hollywood stage set he called “a ranch” in Crawford, Texas. He “cleared brush” for the cameras to pretend he was a “cowboy” instead of a Yale-Harvard, blue-blood, trust fund, silver spoon, preppy boy. As soon as he was out of power Bush jettisoned the “ranch” and now lives in his rightful place in a wealthy gated suburb. No more “brush clearing” for him. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and the rest of them “clear brush” too. They each make more money in an hour than most of their listeners and viewers do in a year, yet there they are each day play-acting the role of just “regular guys.” “Regular guys” whose neighbors aren’t bricklayers, schoolteachers, and letter carriers, but CEOs, bond traders, and hedge-fund managers.

This kind of play-acting contains within it a class-conscious assumption that if working people understood where the Republican Party is coming from, (i.e. maintaining a corporate plutocracy), its candidates would never win a national election. These class charades are nothing but elaborate tricks to convince working people to vote against their own humble interests. In a truly “center-right” country this kind of ruling-class flim-flammery would not be necessary.

Republicans, “moderate” Democrats like Evan Bayh, and TV chatterers also whine about “bipartisanship” even while they use it as a cudgel with which to beat the Democrats over the head. It was never easy for FDR or JFK or LBJ to get legislation passed in Congress. They had to be “partisan.” They had to challenge the Republicans as well as the Southern wing of their own party. They had to fight. There’s no such thing as a 100 percent politically safe way to get anything meaningful done. Rahm Emanuel might be a brilliant Beltway politician but he doesn’t know American history.

With the hoopla at the CPAC convention and the hyperventilating on FOX News you’d think the Republicans are worried about something. With Citizens United and the Supreme Court in their pocket, and with the billionaires’ club and corporate America backing them, they’ll be back in power faster than you can say the words “President Marco Rubio.” That’s why the Democrats can’t afford to fail now.

Joseph Palermo

Republished with the author’s permission from the Huffington Post


  1. Marie Russell-Barker says

    This article bring the truth to a head, to the Republicans people are though stupid before thinking. Playing the good guy disguising there true identify to the American people, but they have never fooled me all on have to do is to think back a couple of years where we were told the Iraq was apart of 9/11 and on the economy is fundamentally sound. When either was the truth it is hard to get at the truth when you have those who have their actors hats on. Who keeps them elected is the ones who they have divided. Those who do not get up off of their bottoms and vote. As active as the Teabaggers are we should be as well. They holler we should be voting. This is my plan. This is the only way to get the obstructive out of the way is through our vote. Make their party smaller than what it is so that something that can help the people of the Unite States, take away those words Red States and Blue States these also divide us as a people. We are all United together. One People One Voice!

  2. says

    The fact that America is so damned right-of-center doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s obvious to me that most of us don’t understand this country’s historical roots. “The Founding Daddie” (Thank you, Molly Ivins) were hardly what we would classify as Conservatives.

    So I guess the writing is on the wall; the Democrats are going to get hammered on Election Day, right? I wouldn’t be too sure about that. There are far too many monkey wrenches that are ready to be thrown into this engine. The most amusing thing to observe during the CPAC orgy last Thursday was their subtle attempt to disassociate themselves from the so-called “Tea Party Movement” without flatly rejecting it. What is going on here?

    Here’s what’s going on: The cooler heads within the Republican National Committee know damned well that the Tea Partiers are a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. It’s not merely the fact that most of these people are dumber than dog shit, it is also the ugly reality that so much (although not all) of that movement is based on the nasty philosophy that has embodied the white supremacist movement for decades. You could hear it in the remarks made by the protesters at the September 12, “March on Washington”. You could see it in the signs they carried. Most of these twits refuse to even acknowledge the fact that the president of the United States is an American citizen!

    Like Neville Chamberlain appeasing der fuhrer at the Munich conference in 1938, the RNC is frantically searching for a “peace in our time” moment. They have quite a dilemma before them to be sure. On the one hand they need to keep these jackasses “inside the tent pissing out” – so to speak. On the other hand they have to avoid alienating the moderates. Like the demented uncle living in the attic, they must do everything humanly possible to make sure that any contact with the neighborhood kids is limited if you know what I mean.

    The Tea Party people are already claiming credit for Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts a couple weeks ago. They are determined to steer the course of the GOP in November, come hell or high water. If they are allowed control of the party, their extremism will only turn off a huge segment of the voting population. If they are denied that opportunity, they will splinter off into third and even fourth party uprisings. Have you ever watched an elephant try to walk a tightrope? It’s more fun than a barrel of donkeys!


    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

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