Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arianna Huffington: Moving Beyond Left And Right

Ariana Huffington was interviewed on Al Jazeera and noted political discourse in America is polarized, divided into left and right. Arianna said:

When we continue to see it as a left-right game, we are having a much harder time laying out the choices for the American people.

Caring for the middle class, caring for jobs, wanting to prioritize that, is that a left wing position? Shouldn't everybody want that?"

We are using these terms in a way which has made national conversation much, much harder to have, and which really marginalizes issues.

She also suggested that returning capitalism to its moral foundations is key to addressing the economic crisis.

Rightardia is not sure that capitalism ever had moral foundations. We see the political discourse as between the center left of the Democratic Party and the far right of the GOP.

The Democratic party has no socialists in it. The only socialist in Washington is Bernie Saunders who caucuses with Senate Democrats. Saunders runs as an Independent.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the Democratic caucus in the United States Congress with 83 declared members of the 192 in Congress. . The CPC advocates:

Universal access to affordable, high quality healthcare," fair trade agreements, living wage laws, the right of all workers to organize into labor unions and engage incollective bargaining, the abolition of significant portions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, US participation in international treaties such as the climate change related Kyoto Accords, strict campaign finance reform laws, a complete pullout from the war in Iraq, a crackdown on corporate welfare and influence, an increase in income tax rates on upper-middle and upper class households, tax cuts for the poor, and an increase in welfare spending by the federal government.

The GOP, on the other hand, has been driving moderates out of the party. The only moderates left in the Senate are Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine. Other moderates such as Colin Powell, Jim Jeffords and Charlie Crist are persona non grata in the GOP.

The GOP has used the Club for Growth to drive moderate politicians out of the party by mounting primary challenges with hard line right wingers. If the moderate GOP candidate survives the primary challenge, he or she will have their campaign war chest depleted when they compete in the general election.

So we now have a Democratic Party that is far more moderate than the Democrats of the FDR/Truman era who brought great prosperity to the country. The Republicans have undone many of the reforms of the New Deal and we now have a country with a distribution of income even worse than the Guilded Age of the early 20th century.

The repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act was the last coffin nail in the New Deal. Bill Clinton made a huge mistake by not repealing the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act in 1999. The change in law led the sub prime mortgage crisis.

America does need to beyond left and right, but there is no coherent left left in the Democratic Party. Rightaridia can provide some glaring examples of this:
  1. When has a the Democratic party rescinded "right to work" laws in a state
  2. Why are the regressive Bush tax cuts still around? 
  3. The most regressive tax in the country is the FICA social security tax which has a $106,000 taxable cap on income and has become a political football when the GOP has congress or the presidency. Why didn't the Democrats reform this tax when they had the chance? 
  4. When George Bush barely won the presidency in his first term, the Democrats still worked with him. When Obama has a sweeping victory in 2008, the Republicans refused to work with the new president
So the American political system has two problems: a Democratic party that has lost the ideals of the New Deal and a polarized Republican Party that won't work with Democrats unless it wins the election. 

How can the political system in the the US improve? First, the Democratic Party needs to move more center left and provide the country with some real progressive options rather than half-baked compromises like the Affordable HealthCare Act.

Secondly, the Democrats needs to marginalize the rabid right with stinging defeats to move the GOP back to the center. It has been clear that the Tea Party should be called a "do nothing " party based on the performance of the 112th congress which ended up with a 9 per cent approval rating.

The Democratic Party needs to portray Republicans as the party of the one percent and a political party that will push the US into another $ one trillion dollar war with Iran if either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich are elected.

Both GOP candidates have expressed strong neo-conservative views and it is likely that the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is already drafting up plans for the invasion of Iran.

The best thing that could happen to the GOP would be a huge defeat in 2012. It just might knock the GOP out of it christo-fascist trance that longs for the good old days of the 19th Century.

This would move the Republicans party back to the center where a political dialogue between the two parties might be possible again.

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