There is No Left

The irony of the "vast, liberal conspiracy."

I think we have a problem in this country. It’s a misperception that somehow, politically, we’ll meet in the middle. 

I think people want that, on the whole. They want compromise. But there can be no compromises between the Left and the Right on the political spectrum. 

That’s because there is no Left.

There are no Socialists. No Communists. Hell, there are barely even any true Democrats remaining. Not when it comes to strong negotiating tactics on any issue. Not of any substance, anyway. Not on a federal level, and certainly not on the state level.

But there is no “agenda.” No “left-wing conspiracy.” Hell, sometimes I wonder if there’s any organization on the left, let alone a conspiracy.

There are mostly Centrists, and there are Republicans. And then, to the right of them, there are Tea Party Republicans. And then, to the right and south of them are the Libertarians. And that end of the spectrum controls the political discussion, everyday.

If there was a Leftist Party in this discussion—a truly radical, Socialist Party like the one I keep hearing Barack Obama is the leader of— then the health care debate would have started with the more-Socialist idea of the government handling health care completely (single-payer), and then the debate would have compromised with a public option for citizens. 

That compromise is mirrored in almost every aspect of our society: you can pay to send your kid to go to private school, or you can rely on the government option of public school; you can buy a book at the bookstore, or borrow it for free from the public library; you can hire a private security detail for your home, or rely on taxpayer-funded police. 

But that is not how the health care debate ended. That’s because the overwhelmingly-centrist Democratic Party—most notably Barack Obama—startedthe discussion with the public option and settled for some sort of government-monitored… private club of insurance groups that... like… have rules about pre-existing conditions, or… something.

That’s not a centrist compromise in keeping with our societal norms. And it certainly isn’t the mark of some dangerous, destructive, Satanic, radical politican hell-bent on pushing an agenda outside the norm. That’s a right-leaning solution (which, somehow, is still not good enough for the current GOP). And we got there because there is no Left to start the debate.

Take a second look at the rekindled abortion debate. A truly radical Leftist approach would be the government choosing to dictate to its citizens far-reaching parameters of a pregnancy (like China’s one-child approach). A similarly radical approach might use a system like eugenics, where an intelligence test is given to the mother before she is permitted to have a baby, and sterilized if she is deemed unfit. This is the kind of thing we joke about when Snookie gets pregnant. No one has considered this seriously since the 1930s—and thankfully so. But that is about as far left as you can get on that topic.

On the other hand, a hard-right stance on abortion would be the outlawing of all abortions, including the classification of fertilized eggs as an abortion, and forcing rape and incest victims to have babies; and this is happening. This movement is called the “personhood movement.” There are currently several states considering or passing “personhood” legislation today. And that is what we are .

So this discussion is being run by the Right; not the center, and certainly not the non-existent Left.

Even something as basic as regular ol' traditional Democratic ideas—regulations for Wall Street and arresting the criminals that led to a collapse of our banking system, promoting (not merely defending) unions, slashing the military budget, strengthening public schools instead of pushing charter schools-- these are basic tenets of the now-invisible Democrats. And those things are not happening.

Look, if President Obama was the dangerous, radically liberal, war-on-religion-and-freedoms pariah Republicans claim he is, wouldn’t we have seen something utterly magnificent by now? He’s had three years to try something truly, inconceivably Socialist. If he were really someone who warranted (the politically incorrect)comparisons to Hitler and Stalin, he’s completely underachieving. Bush eroded liberty in the name of fear and started a war on a lie. If Obama were even remotely that effectively radical, he would have sent you a government-issued pair of briefs with “I HEART JIMMY HOFFA” written on the ass and made you wear them to the job he assigned you laying gravel at the OBAMA-RAMA Drive-In Theater. 

Anyone actually who believes the Democrats, circa 2012, are engaging in radical, Socialist behavior is living in a paranoid fantasy world brought on by boredom and the delusions of Fox News. Message to the Right: the only reason Mitt Romney has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this election is because educated liberals are vastly underwhelmed by the same “dangerous leftist agenda” that keeps Glenn Beck’s pillow wet with tears at night.

So how did there get to be this weird, pervasive attitude that Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats are part of some radical agenda? Where did we get this illusion of a far-left-anything?

It’s really a question of motivation and message. By noon on any given day, radical Republicans have been up for six hours destroying the planet via draconian legislation aimed at rolling back the rights of every demographic imaginable (save white men), and then getting the media on their talking points (and then pretending the liberals are “running the media”). By noon, fair taxation that 72% of Americans favor becomes “class warfare.” By noon, the Right has taken the aforementioned mediocre Health Care Bill and turned it into “Grandma’s Death Panel.” 

Meanwhile, at that same hour, Democrats and Liberals have just rolled out of bed and begun taking notes on the best jokes to write about how the Republicans got up too early.

Because the Democrats only play defense. 

Look at the popular right-wing media moguls: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter. All loud, angry, popular and motivating. They make the news themselves just by using hyperbole. The Left’s answer? Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher. And though these people are highly intelligent, they are all comedians, reacting to the Right.

So here is my message to any Democrats: Stop trying to reason with these people; stop trying to make fun of them; stop trying to psychoanalyze them. 

Start proposing “crazy,” actually-socialist legislation; start proposing 75% taxation on the wealthy; start discussing single-payer health care; start proposing laws that say a family can only own one handgun and one hunting rifle; start sweeping, transformative legislation aimed at crippling oil companies in favor of green energy; and start considering even more, actually radical, agendas. Not because you necessarily believe in all these things, and not necessarily because these are things the country should do; but because sometimes in bargaining you have to make two wrongs make a Left. Do whatever you have to, and say whatever you have to, like they do.

Just kick your "asses" back to the left so we can all eventually compromise in the center. 

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Patrick Giusto May 07, 2012 at 07:24 PM
James M. and Tom M., Bernie Sanders IS a self-described Democratic Socialist, but he is also a self-described "Independent" in terms of his party affiliation (though he does caucus with the Dems). DEMOCRATIC Socialism is what our country has already; as I've explained, it is our norm. TRUE Socialism is more akin to what the French just elected as President. His platform is taxing the rich at 75%, dramatically increasing social spending, and creating thousands of state jobs. There is a massive difference. Barack Obama hasn't come close to that. Much the opposite, actually. Secondly, this idea that somehow the Tea Party is bringing balance to the political spectrum is absurd. There are literally hundreds of self-identified Tea Partiers in, running for, or affiliated with, governmental offices under the Republican banner. There is no debate for that; nor is there any debate that the Tea Party is to the right on the political spectrum of traditional Republican values and having an influence on the GOP. In order for there to be a need to "purge" Socialists in order to bring balance back to the spectrum, someone would have to first show me all the self-identified true Socialists in the Democrat party. Even if I gave you Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi-- of which there's STILL barely any evidence to back up any of those three-- you'd need to make up a lot of ground before you could say there wasn't a hard right tilt to the current spectrum.
Troy McClure May 07, 2012 at 09:38 PM
James, you have no idea what a socialist is OR what it's like to live/be in a socialist society. You can stop this fantasy gig of yours that you know what you're talking about. You're just another right wing loon spitting out what other clueless right wing loons are saying. You fools sound like the guy who took your girlfriend away in high school. You're still bitter.
Tim Torrence May 08, 2012 at 04:58 AM
I must disagree. The standard model, although inaccurate, chooses to place communists and socialists on the far left and fascists and anarchists on the far right. If your supposition is to say we have no left in this country because there are no avowed socialists or communists in higher office then the opposite is also true. I have yet to find one avowed fascist or anarchist in higher office. If your supposition is to say the dialogue in this country is dominated by the right that is correct. As people age they tend to become more conservative with their views on life and young people simply do not vote unless they are pushed to do so. But in using the Tea Party as an example that our country is being pushed to the right you omit the fact that the current Presidential administration, the current majority leader of the senate and the past speaker of the house all hold positions diametrically opposed to the Tea Party. Saying there is no left simply because the current elected officials are not far enough left for you is disingenuous. Find me a fascist in the Republican Party and I will agree with you. Until then my own outgoing congressional representative Dennis Kucinich is a declared socialist and actively sought out the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America. Howard Dean the once chairman of the Democrat Party regularly attends their conventions. One thing that should be made clear, it is far easier to campaign from the left, far harder to govern.
James Thomas May 08, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Thanks Tim T., I wish I could say it half so well.
Patrick Giusto May 09, 2012 at 04:04 AM
James Murphy: while I appreciate your comment, I have no interest in "winning" these types of discussions. I am much more concerned with people seeing through rhetoric and talking points and having a meaningful, educated discussion devoid of thoughtless labels and unoriginal thoughts for the sake of partisanship. Sometimes I start these discussions with satire, sometimes with humor, and sometimes with a bit of my own angst. But I always appreciate a good discussion, and I hope that you continue to read my blogs and comment. I also truly hope that one day you will present a case to me that I cannot deny, and I can return the favor. I hope that Tim and (other) James will attest that there are times where I have said to them, earnestly, that they have made some wonderful points. Thanks to all three of you.


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