Liberalism in American and at FC

Obama NopeA 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:

Political Compass Results

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.

Mitt Romney - No We Can'tI 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!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Liberalism in American and at FC

  1. In November 2000 I was 31 years old, had been married about a year, and was still a Republican. My Republican/conservative politics were mostly the result of WSJ editorial page agitprop I got from Mom & Dad, and from the Cold War. I let go of something while looking at a chunk of the Berlin wall in a glass case in Hayden library at ASU. I let go of more things gradually as a young man making my own way in the world out from under my parents’ influence. I voted for Ross Perot, and for nobody in 1996, neither of which I am proud of. So when George W Bush surfaced as the Republican nominee in 1999 I said, "Another one? I didn’t like the last one." But I voted for him. And then some things happened that demonstrated that Francis Fukushima was as utterly full of shit as any student of history knew he was. And still I believed a mountain of lies I was told, until I could believe no longer. And I wondered what other lies I had believed. Pretty much everything.

    So I am a liberal now. Even before I deconverted, I knew W was a joke, a dunce coasting on his legacy. And as a new liberal I scolded the conservatives for not being serious. Is he the best you have? I had yet to meet Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, et all. I am always amazed when people don’t care about the Patriot Act/Military Commissions Act. I explain to them that the President, any President, my guy, your guy, can disappear anyone into a black site dungeon for any reason, or no reason, and it’s legal. Soylent Green: It’s people. Crickets. Probably every President has in fact had this power. Even George Washington, if only in the capacity of his private wealth. But it would have caused a scandal that would bring down an administration if discovered. Until a few years ago, when it just became a rule of law that hippies on Mother Jones and AlterNet bitched about.

    I brought my daughter with me to the polling place to vote for Barrack Obama. She was three years old. I just knew that a man of his intelligence, a man who had taught Constitutional law, would surely realize the importance of restoring the Fourth Amendment. My favorite bloggers Driftglass and Blue Gal have said often that politicians will break your heart, and that you have to work through it. They also say, rightly so, that for all the purity trolls and the "Not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties" Cassandras: look at what happens to marginalized people in states where the Republicans seize power.

  2. @Lawrence – Bush was very important in pushing me to the Democratic Party. Of course, I had already been on a long journey from libertarianism. But I couldn’t believe the clear deception that was going on in selling the Iraq War. And it boggled my mind that the media went right along with it. I don’t think I was being cynical. It’s just that it was crystal clear that the administration was going to war and yet people were reporting on it as though it was really up in the air–like their rhetoric was honest.

    I’m very disappointed in Obama in terms of international affairs. And his record on the NSA has been terrible. On economics (which is the most important thing to me), he’s a mixed bag. But I’m not naive. I think he is the best president we could get in this political environment.

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