A couple of months ago, Milt Shook wrote a good blog post, Of Course Obama’s Progressive! Give Him More Democrats, See What Happens. I have many problems with Obama, but he is basically right. Any politician has to be seen in the context of the political environment that he is part of. There is an unfortunate tendency among liberals to look back fondly on Reagan and Nixon. And indeed, on domestic issues, Nixon was pretty good. What I think people forget is that these men existed in a political environment. Nixon could not act like Ted Cruz does now. What’s more, if Nixon were alive and in politics today, he would be as extreme as any of them. Ditto (even more so) for Reagan.
However, Obama is the result of a 50 year assault on the political Overton Window. Republicans do not need to win elections; they have already pushed the political battle ground so far to the right that what now passes as liberal, is at best what passed as center or even center right a few decades ago.
Recently, I asked some of my readers to take the Political Compass test. The results were highly skewed, because my writing doesn’t exactly appeal to conservatives. You can see them all as black dots in the lower left hand corner of the graph:
My results were -7.75 on the left-right scale and -7.23 on the authoritarian-libertarian scale: (-7.75,-7.23). The average of all of us was (-7.10,-7.56) with 90% confidence limits of (2.73,0.95). As you can see in the graph, the website owners have tried to assess the scores of famous people. Some of these are about right. In particular, I think Francois Hollande is correct: very slightly liberal, very slightly libertarian. The Dalai Lama, however, is way off—he ought to be down with all the Frankly Curious black dots.
I was quite interested in where they put the last presidential race. Obama got a score of (+7,+6). Romney got a score of (+8.5,+7.5). Overall, I think these scores are a little extreme. I don’t actually think that Romney is that bad, although that isn’t far off from where he campaigned. I also think I’d give Obama something more along the lines of (+3,+2).
I like Obama and in general, he is leading the country better than any president during my lifetime. But he is constrained by the neoliberal ideology of the New Democratic movement that he is very much a part of. The Republican Party may have been taken over by the Tea Party base. But the Democratic Party has been taken over by the New Democrats. They aren’t all bad, but they believe in a lot of economic policy that is just wrong. Still, I support them because they continue to believe in facts and they are at base practical.
The bottom line is that we need to destroy the Republican Party. Then we can fight about liberalism. I believe that the modern Democratic Party would make an excellent set of parties. One liberal (the New Deal/Great Society part that I am proud to include myself in) and one conservative (the New Democrats with their “free” trade agreements and ending welfare as we know it).
And here at the People Republic of Frankly Curious, well, you all know what you are!