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« The Pursuit of Happiness | Main | AoSHQ Podcast: Taking The Week Off »
February 07, 2014

BREAKING: "No, Liberals Don't Control the Democratic Party"

Everything you think you know about the Democratic Party is wrong! Not only isn't it very liberal, there are hardly any liberals in it!

Just a bunch of gosh darn, honest to goodness mainstream Americans.

In a classroom in Harlem, the liberal new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, appeared with union leaders in support of his plan to raise taxes on incomes higher than $500,000 to fund public pre-kindergarten. "We're asking this of the wealthy," de Blasio said, "because there are too many working parents in this city today" who need help.

At the same time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was presenting his budget in Albany under a sign that trumpeted: "CUTTING TAXES."

You could hardly get a better illustration of the current tribal divide in the Democratic Party. Call it what you want—liberals versus centrists, populists versus the corporate wing—but these days, there's no doubt there are two different breeds of Democrats, both in elected office and in the activist grassroots. Along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, de Blasio has been hyped as the avatar of a new, more boldly progressive Democratic Party that discards the timid moderation advocated by the party's old guard in favor of a frank, take-no-prisoners crusade for higher taxes and bigger government.

Andrew Cuomo...poster boy for the centrist wing of the Democratic party. Well, so long as you consider gun grabbing and unfettered access to abortion "centrist".

And that's exactly what MSM reporters like Molly Ball think.

Want more proof of the disconnect?

This dynamic means that compared to Republicans, Democrats are relatively free to antagonize their ideological core supporters.

Huh?

As someone who writes almost everyday on how the GOP antagonizes conservatives this strikes me as, what's the term? Nuts. Yes, that's the term.

The Democrats occasionally fail to deliver everything their base wants but they are pretty much on the same page. It's not like the Democratic party establishment is telling the base, "we have to cut spending and we're going to push for an enforcement only immigration bill". Yes, there are times when Obama and Reid don't move the ball as far left as liberals want but unlike their GOP counterparts, they aren't actually moving the ball in the opposite direction from the base. That's an important difference.

Just how deep is Ball's disconnect from reality on this key distinction? Really deep.

The real answer to the question of who is in charge of the Democratic Party, Moulitsas said, is "the president of the United States." The question of where to put Obama on the liberal-to-centrist scale haunts any debate about the modern Democratic Party. Even as his opponents brand him a socialist, Obama's administration has disdained what former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs termed the "professional left." One attempt to evaluate the question empirically found him to be more liberal than Senate Democrats, but less liberal than Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or John F. Kennedy. Obama has often seemed torn between a liberal philosophy and a desire to split differences. He approved healthcare reform with no public option, a Wall Street-reform bill the left saw as inadequate, and a succession of budget deals progressives have decried.

So much nonsense.

First of all, Obama was the liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton back in 2008. Remember he was the pure anti-war candidate who deep down favored single payer (video) health reform as opposed to the triangulating half-measures of the Clintons. That he's been unable to do all the things he really wants to do doesn't mean he's not a hard left liberal, it means he simply hasn't been very effective in getting his way.

Keep in mind Obama didn't object to a public option, he objected to killing a massive liberal government power grab. Had the Democrats gone whole hog for a public option, they would have lost Joe Liberman (I-Hartford, the insurance capital of the world). Obama's objections to forcing a public option in the bill was purely practical, not ideological.

Liberals run this line a lot...Obama isn't a liberal, look how corporate ObamaCare is. Just because he couldn't get all liberals wanted doesn't mean what he did get wasn't a large leap to the left.

Obviously we could go on all day about how liberal Obama is but that's not really the issue. The issue is how so many in the media are simply blinded to how ideological they are.

I once had a Twitter exchange with a reporter who called some GOP Senator "Rightwing". I asked the reporter when was the last time he identified a Democrat as "leftwing". He couldn't think of a time but when pressed couldn't think of a Senator he'd call "leftwing". I suggested starting with self-identified socialist Bernie Sanders. The reporters response was he wouldn't call Sanders leftwing because Sanders wasn't that far out of the mainstream of the Democratic party. That was exactly the point I was trying to make, the Democrats are all leftwing. It never occurred to him that if a socialist was in the broader main of a political party that entire party was pretty far left. He just took it as normal.

No wonder people who think Andrew Cuomo is a centrist think John Boehner is a raving rightwing lunatic.


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posted by DrewM. at 01:11 PM

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