Skip to comments.Why Many People In The Middle Now Identify With The Left
Posted on 07/26/2014 9:00:53 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
While the country has become more liberal in some ways, the Republican Party has moved to the extreme right, and the Democratic Party has filled in the vacuum in the middle by also moving to the right on many issues. As a consequence, many people who previously considered themselves in the middle are finding that the current views of the left are closer to their views. Thomas Ricks, who wrote Fiasco, and excellent look at the Iraq War, described why he moved to the left at Politico:
Disappointment in the American government over the last 10 years. Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the first big shocks. I thought that invading Afghanistan was the right response to the 9/11 attacks, but I never expected the U.S. military leadership would be so inept in fighting there and in Iraq, running the wars in ways that made more enemies than were stopped. I believe that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, not only launched on false premises but also strategically foolish in that ultimately it has increased Irans power in the Middle East.
Torture. I never expected my country to endorse torture. I know that torture has existed in all wars, but to my knowledge, its use, under the chilling term enhanced interrogation, was never official U.S. policy until this century. In fact, until our recent wars, the American military had a proud heritage of handling its prisoners better than most. During the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington reminded his men of the need to Treat [captives] with humanity, and Let them have no reason to complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British army.
How we fought. I never thought that an American government would employ mercenaries in a war. And yet we did this in Iraq by hiring thousands of armed security contractors who in practice were subject neither to local law nor to the American military justice system, and so could and often did treat Iraqis badly. In September 2007, I remember, American officers, who by then understood the need to treat Iraqi civilians well, were outraged when Blackwater employees shot 37 Iraqis in Baghdads Nisour Squarethe rough equivalent of opening up on the lunch crowd in Dupont Circle. Yet to my knowledge, the U.S. government has not studied how the use of mercenaries poisoned the conduct of the war. Indeed, it gives every indication of planning to operate the same way in the future.
Intelligence officials run amok. I think that American intelligence officials have shown a contempt for the way our democracy is supposed to work in turning a vast and unaccountable apparatus on the citizens it is supposed to be protecting. I remain wary of Edward Snowdens motivations and connections, yet still am worried by the intrusive surveillance by the National Security Agency he has unveiled. At the very least, in a democracy, we should be able to be informed about the actions that have eroded our privacy but supposedly were taken in our name.
Growing income inequality. I also have been dismayed by the transfer of massive amounts of wealth to the richest people in the country, a policy supported over the last 35 years by successive administrations of both parties. Apparently income redistribution downward is dangerously radical, but redistribution upward is just business as usual. The middle class used at least to get lip service from the richbackbone of the country and such. Now it is often treated like a bunch of saps not aware enough to evade their taxes.
This led to a lengthy discussion at The Moderate Voice, where I also blog. Many of the bloggers and regular commentators there are in a similar position, thinking of themselves as moderates but finding their views are now more in line with the left, especially on social issues. While Ricks didnt mention social issues, the desire to keep government out of the private lives of individuals has led many people to abandon the Republicans and the conservative movement.
Opposition to the Iraq War and related issues has generally been the defining issue for the formation of the liberal netroots and this dominates Ricks reasons. Republicans typically use fear and distort Democratic views, such as with the misquotation of Obama as the theme of the last Republican convention, to falsely paint liberals as being for socialism. There are no such economic views listed by Ricks, and the same is typical of many liberals. There is a far greater variation in views on the left than on the right, but the center of gravity has moved rightwards on economic issues. Liberals tend to be more pragmatists and closer to Eisenhower Republicans than anything close to socialist (by its classic meaning).
If the word conservative really meant anything, in many ways todays liberals are the conservatives who want to preserve our market economy, while eliminating its abuses, while Republicans are the radicals who want to destroy the system and make our economy more like a banana republic. It is the Republicans who are irresponsible fiscally, financing their policies on credit (while Democrats are more likely to include financing for their policies), caring more about tax cuts for the rich as opposed to cutting the deficit, and rigging the system to redistribute wealth from the middle class to the rich. Besides the ethical problems with this, destroying the middle class is horrible for the economy, and in the long run doesnt even benefit the rich either, unless you want to live in a banana republic. On top of this we have the Republicans engaging in irresponsible action such as shutting down the government and making an issue out of increasing the debt ceiling, resulting in a lowering of the countrys credit rating.
The Affordable Care Act is a good example of how both parties have moved to the right on health care. Obamacare is quite close to Richard Nixons health care plan, the GOP counter-proposal to HillaryCare in the 90′s, and Mitt Romneys plan. Republicans used to push for mandates, exchanges, and recommended high deductible plans tied to medical savings accounts. Once Obama pushed for all of this, as opposed to previous more liberal health care proposals, the Republicans suddenly claimed that everything they supported in the past is socialism and amounts to a government takeover of health care. (Of course part of the Republican opposition is because Obamacare does differ from the old Republican proposals in including regulations to keep insurance companies from ripping off consumers while pushing to increase use of private insurance companies.)
Conservatives are likely to misinterpret the inclusion of concerns about income inequality by Ricks, as well as myself in this post, as indicating support for socialism. Concern about the deleterious effects of the concentration of wealth to our economy is not an exclusively liberal viewpointsee the works of Kevin Phillips on this. Nor does this mean that socialism is being advocated as the solution.
Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed on income inequality which is worth reviewing:
First, economic inequality has worsened significantly in the United States and some other countries. The richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Oxfam estimates that the richest 85 people in the world own half of all wealth.
The situation might be tolerable if a rising tide were lifting all boats. But its lifting mostly the yachts. In 2010, 93 percent of the additional income created in America went to the top 1 percent.
Second, inequality in America is destabilizing. Some inequality is essential to create incentives, but we seem to have reached the point where inequality actually becomes an impediment to economic growth.
Certainly, the nation grew more quickly in periods when we were more equal, including in the golden decades after World War II when growth was strong and inequality actually diminished. Likewise, a major research paper from the International Monetary Fund in April found that more equitable societies tend to enjoy more rapid economic growth.
Indeed, even Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, warns that too much has gone to too few and that inequality in America is now very destabilizing.
Inequality causes problems by creating fissures in societies, leaving those at the bottom feeling marginalized or disenfranchised. That has been a classic problem in banana republic countries in Latin America, and the United States now has a Gini coefficient (a standard measure of inequality) approaching some traditionally poor and dysfunctional Latin countries.
Third, disparities reflect not just the invisible hand of the market but also manipulation of markets. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote a terrific book two years ago, The Price of Inequality, which is a shorter and easier read than Pikettys book. In it, he notes: Much of Americas inequality is the result of market distortions, with incentives directed not at creating new wealth but at taking it from others.
For example, financiers are wealthy partly because theyre highly educated and hardworking and also because theyve successfully lobbied for the carried interest tax loophole that lets their pay be taxed at much lower rates than other peoples.
Likewise, if youre a pharmaceutical executive, one way to create profits is to generate new products. Another is to lobby Congress to bar the governments Medicare program from bargaining for drug prices. That
Fourth, inequality doesnt necessarily even benefit the rich as much as we think. At some point, extra incomes dont go to sate desires but to attempt to buy status through positional goods like the hottest car on the block.
The problem is that there can only be one hottest car on the block. So the lawyer who buys a Porsche is foiled by the C.E.O. who buys a Ferrari, who in turn is foiled by the hedge fund manager who buys a Lamborghini. This arms race leaves these desires unsated; theres still only one at the top of the heap.
Fifth, progressives probably talk too much about inequality and not enough about opportunity. Some voters are turned off by tirades about inequality because they say it connotes envy of the rich; there is more consensus on bringing everyone to the same starting line.
Unfortunately, equal opportunity is now a mirage. Indeed, researchers find that there is less economic mobility in America than in class-conscious Europe.
We know some of the tools, including job incentives and better schools, that can reduce this opportunity gap. But the United States is one of the few advanced countries that spends less educating the average poor child than the average rich one. As an escalator of mobility, the American education system is broken.
Because they’re idiots?
The country hasn’t gotten more liberal, the government has. Flyover country is thick with people that would be considered conservative if you only took their value system into account, and not political labels.
Because they’ve been lied to as to what the left really wants.
re: while the country has become more liberal in some ways, the Republican Party has moved to the extreme right....
Really? When did that happen? Did we finally get rid of all the RINOs in the party?
funny...this smells just like it does when the farmer down the road spread a fresh layer of $#!T on his fields...
ZOT this blog pimp.
Because they’ve been indoctrinated.
And I don’t mean 2nd division, I mean this post.
the D party has moved Right!????????????????
gee, all that Weed must a whole lot stronger than any of us ever imagined.....
And cherry picking a few tortuously worded survey questions does not a trend make.
The government is exploding and collapsing. Time is on our side.
Somebody been hittin’ da happy smoke. The “people” who “identify” with the left do so only because they are lowlife, freeloading scumbags who will vote only for those who will give them a free ride.
How about we allow the bloggers to get hits on their sites through their own means and not by dragging in curious FReepers?
What's next, we start posting facebook pages and their comments as well as personal blogs?
The wonder is that there are any Conservatives at all after decades of this Jedi mind tricking that's been going on.
He makes some good points, but a society can have freedom OR equality of outcome, NOT BOTH.
In many ways the one is the opposite of the other.
A completely free society in which all runners cross the goal line in the same photo finish?
Doesn’t exist, never will.
They probably trolled coffee houses in Seattle, Boston, and Berkeley for their statistical sample group.
WTF, mate? The Republican party is only
right if you're using the relative measure comparing it to the Democrat party… and even then the difference is essentially/practically nonexistent.
This dude is straight out of Orwell, liberal values equal freedom and enlightened thought. Freedom is slavery, war is peace, blah blah blah..
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