Do you think Democrats are "liberal" or that Republicans are "libertarian"? I have a bridge to sell you

One of the more inexplicable aspects of progressive support for the Democratic party is that so many progressives readily understand the fact that the Democratic party's values and agenda are diametrically opposed to those of progressives.  And the same point can be made regarding conservative support for the Republican party.  Contrary to the primal myths promulgated by Democrats and Republicans themselves, the Democratic party is not liberal and the GOP is not conservative.  How could they be?  Their values and agendas are almost entirely reactionary and reflexively corporatist in character.  At My South End, Shirley Kressel (MA) makes the progressive case against a Democratic governor:
Is a vote for [incumbent Democratic governor] Deval Patrick really a step forward for progressive values? In 2006, Patrick was lofted to victory by liberals, hungry for clean government, a fair economy and social justice. As soon as he won, he told the Boston Globe that the biggest misconception about him is that he is a liberal. [Emphasis added.]  The Globe reported that Patrick vowed to work with business leaders, seeking to "shake his liberal label and govern as a pro-business centrist." And he has. Now, on four of the most important issues for progressives, Deval Patrick stands with the conservative camp.

  • He supports the charter school movement, whose goals are union-busting and privatization of public education.

  • Through various quasi-public authorities and councils, he has given away billions of dollars to private companies in tax breaks, land deals and deregulation, as did his Republican predecessors, and as would his conservative challengers.

  • He accepted Romney’s health insurance strategy - forcing every everyone to buy from an insurance industry (Baker’s) that gobbles up 15% of the state’s health care money, and blocking a single-payer "Medicare-for-all" system with a 3-4% administrative cost.

  • He supports gambling as a route to economic development, ignoring the economic and social devastation it has created in other states.

    Third, and most important: This race is about more than filling the governor’s office. Our society has taken a dramatic shift to the right over the last 30 years, as corporate interests have hijacked our democracy. The notion that government should be run like a business, for business, and ultimately by business, has prevailed, eroding the concept of the public domain. Both the Democrat and Republican parties have been captured, and they’ve lost sight of the public interest.

  • The misconception that Democrats are liberals is likely just as common as the misconception that Republicans are libertarian.  If you support Democrats because they supposedly stand for liberal values or if you support Republicans because they allegedly stand for libertarian values, send me an email, I have a bridge to sell you. 

    1 comment:

    Cranky Critter said...

    This is just silly. Deval Patrick is obviously not "liberal enough" for very progressive folks. But he's surely a liberal.

    Besides, liberal has an underlying philosophical meaning that progressive doesn't. Liberals were once upon a time expected to support ideas related to liberty. Like legalizing gambling. Or, say, marijuana. Legalizing either is a position any libertarian would support, and also a position which, once upon a time, many liberals might have supported.

    Progressives, on the other hand, simply support whatever their collective group has deemed to be positive progress.

    Notice that legalized gambling is opposed both by social conservatives and paternalistic progressives. As an issue, it doesn't even fit on the liberal-conservative spectrum.

    MA's healthcare law was already passed when Deval Patrick took office. He went along, as it were, because there wasn't another option on the table that would pass the legislature and replace the existing plan. Granting access to an expensive good at a low subsidized price is currently costing a fortune. "Medicare for all" won't save us from the skyrocketing costs, because the fundamental problem is finite supply against unlimited demand.

    Here's the thing: the boundaries of the democratic and republican parties basically and functionally divide the electorate into 5 groups. From left to right, those groups are:

    1. Progressives who think democrats are insufficiently liberal and therefore corporate tools

    2. democratic partisans who toe the line and fight for their team

    3. moderate independents

    4. republican partisans who toe the line and fight for their team

    5. hardcore conservatives who think the republican party is not sufficiently conservative and has been corrupted by power to the point where it is not truly committed to smaller government