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Author Topic: Challenging the False Reality of "Centrism"  (Read 6718 times)
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« on: September 21, 2005, 03:00:31 pm »
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This is a great article from The Nation:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050103/sirota

It talks about the great misconceptions relating to centrism. It challenges the common DLC logic that economic populism is a losing equation.

Thoughts on this article?
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2005, 10:54:51 pm »
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Has it occurred to this author that centrism carries many more guises than just the DLC-brand? 

I consider myself more or less centrist, but more in the populist sense, with moderate-to-conservative (or rather states' rights) views with regard to such hot-button issues like abortion, with strong support for a hawkish and internationalist foreign policy and full support for our military, while retaining moderate-to-liberal economic positions.

Where do I fit in his little article?
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2005, 10:20:08 am »
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Has it occurred to this author that centrism carries many more guises than just the DLC-brand? 

I consider myself more or less centrist, but more in the populist sense, with moderate-to-conservative (or rather states' rights) views with regard to such hot-button issues like abortion, with strong support for a hawkish and internationalist foreign policy and full support for our military, while retaining moderate-to-liberal economic positions.

Where do I fit in his little article?

You sound more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Still, at least there's one thing that Democrats like Frodo, myself and many others aren't - and that is self-defeating

A Democratic Party 'of the liberals, for the liberals, by the liberals' - and them alone - is on a hiding to nothing

The Democratic Party is a natural home for moderates - you know the very people upon which the Democratic Party depends if they hope to win elections

Dave
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2005, 10:37:32 am »
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Has it occurred to this author that centrism carries many more guises than just the DLC-brand? 

I consider myself more or less centrist, but more in the populist sense, with moderate-to-conservative (or rather states' rights) views with regard to such hot-button issues like abortion, with strong support for a hawkish and internationalist foreign policy and full support for our military, while retaining moderate-to-liberal economic positions.

Where do I fit in his little article?

You sound more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Does he? If so, the Democratic party is clearly dead.
He doesn't...but in that post, he doesn't really sound more like a Democrat than a Republican either. Lots of people who think like that and vote Republican. Especially among Southern Whites.

DemoHawk - I can only partially agree with you here. While of course, a Democratic Party that gives up the entire "centre" (whatever that is, exactly) is indeed bound to lose every election in the current US election system, the Democrats need just as much to keep the fringes happy to give them a reason to keep voting for them. Especially in midterms with their low turnout. Of course, the Republicans are in exactly the same situation.
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2005, 10:42:03 am »
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He doesn't...but in that post, he doesn't really sound more like a Democrat than a Republican either.

No, he sounded like a Democrat. Just not an American "liberal".

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Lots of people who think like that and vote Republican. Especially among Southern Whites.

True. And that's why the Democrats have been in so much trouble recently.
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2005, 11:59:48 am »
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Has it occurred to this author that centrism carries many more guises than just the DLC-brand? 

I consider myself more or less centrist, but more in the populist sense, with moderate-to-conservative (or rather states' rights) views with regard to such hot-button issues like abortion, with strong support for a hawkish and internationalist foreign policy and full support for our military, while retaining moderate-to-liberal economic positions.

Where do I fit in his little article?

You sound more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Does he? If so, the Democratic party is clearly dead.
He doesn't...but in that post, he doesn't really sound more like a Democrat than a Republican either. Lots of people who think like that and vote Republican. Especially among Southern Whites.

DemoHawk - I can only partially agree with you here. While of course, a Democratic Party that gives up the entire "centre" (whatever that is, exactly) is indeed bound to lose every election in the current US election system, the Democrats need just as much to keep the fringes happy to give them a reason to keep voting for them. Especially in midterms with their low turnout. Of course, the Republicans are in exactly the same situation.

Where exactly would the fringes go? The GOP

I'd have thought moderate Democrats would be more appealing to liberals than conservative Republicans. The future of America, from what I can tell, isn't 'way-out Left'. Democratic Party voters are more moderate than its liberal activists. 54% of moderates voted for Kerry in 2004 and I can see candidates like Bayh or Warner besting that - but if Democratic liberals wish to cut their noses off to spite their face, then I'm afraid - unless things go catastrophically wrong for the Bush and the GOP - the writing's on the wall.

Democrats simply don't have the numerical advantage over Republicans any more - not that in the post-New Deal era that it has been much of an advantage,  as George McGovern, Walter Mondale and, to a lesser extent, Michael Dukasis would testify

Dave
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2005, 12:01:22 pm »
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Well as well all know, every other ideology outside centrism has really created a stable, non-partisan working environment in the political world.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2005, 12:41:46 pm »
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Did anyone even read the article? Or are we just going to throw labels around? Let's hear some specifics. We don't need another "moderates need to be embraced if the Democrats are going to win" thread. What really is centrism anyway?

The article mainly deals with the corporate culture of "centrism". Any thoughts? 
« Last Edit: September 22, 2005, 12:47:28 pm by Scoonie »Logged

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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2005, 12:42:57 pm »
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Has it occurred to this author that centrism carries many more guises than just the DLC-brand? 

I consider myself more or less centrist, but more in the populist sense, with moderate-to-conservative (or rather states' rights) views with regard to such hot-button issues like abortion, with strong support for a hawkish and internationalist foreign policy and full support for our military, while retaining moderate-to-liberal economic positions.

The most important issue for me (the one I'm least willing to compromise on) is economic populism. I will support any Democrat that votes for the working people and not the corporations.

So, yes, you do fit in. Did you read the article?
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2005, 02:16:52 pm »
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The article mainly deals with the corporate culture of "centrism". Any thoughts? 

Not as yet. I'll print it off and it can be tonights bed time reading. I merely took issue with what Opebo said

If I have any thoughts about it. I'll let you know

Dave

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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2005, 07:55:25 am »
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Where exactly would the fringes go? The GOP
Remember Ralph Nader?
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The future of America, from what I can tell, isn't 'way-out Left'.
Agree with you here. Sad
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Democratic Party voters are more moderate than its liberal activists.
Or to put it another way, moderate Democrats are less likely to actually get involved and do more than cast their vote than more extremist ones. (The same holds of Republicans.) So what's your point again? Wink
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2005, 07:57:37 am »
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If, indeed, the DLC is claiming that progressive policies are hurting the Democratic Party, then I can only partially agree. I wouldn't say that progressive economic policies (i.e. those which favour the middle and working classes over corporate America) are hurting the party per se. In fact, I think espousing economic populism can reap electoral dividends for the Democrats should they champion the cause of the 'little guy'. There is a lot of poverty in these 'red' states and I recall reading that the From and Reed, of the DLC, said that 26 of the 28 poorest states voted for Bush and, in effect, against their own economic interests but why?

I believe the answer lies due to the increasing saliency among the electorate of social issues and moral values, I'd say that it is the the pursuit of social liberalism, which is hindering the Democratic Party's progess in the GOP-dominated South and Central regions. I, certainly, wouldn't advocate Democrats en mass becoming reactionary cultural conservatives but the selection of more socially-centred mindered candidates, who hold such convictions sincerely, may be, indeed, by a pragmatic option and would, in effect, be a progessive, on the part of the Democratic Party, move against the Reactionary Right. [Yes, given the way the GOP and it's acolytes smearing of the world 'liberal', perhaps the word 'reactionary' would be an appropriate level of abuse to level at them]

Sirota asserts that the DLC and GOP criticise populist Democrats as far-left extremists. Whether they do or not, I'd say it's a falicious claim bearing in mind populists are not uniformly lef let alone extremet. Populists, including the likes of myself, trend left-of-centre on economic issues and right-of-centre on social issues (of cause there are varying degrees to which people affirm such principles)

Sirota is critical of the DLC's link with corporations. Has it not occured to him that moderate, or centrist, Democrats can be both pro-business and pro-labour? Why should anyone, necessarily, be mutually exclusive in favour of one over the other? Can't corporate America and unions work together for the greater good of their employees and members?

As for Joe Lieberman attacking proposals to repeal the Bush taxs, well, let's say one can agree to differ. George W Bush and his GOP-controlled Congress are a fiscally irresponsible, and incompetent, crew indeed. How can inheriting a record budget and turining it into a record deficit in four years be justified? How can can giving away trillions to those who [don't] need it ever be justifed? I'm all for tax cuts and eliminating waste but were any future Democratic president or Congress to initiate tax cuts, they ought to start from the bottom-up, which would benefit both the middle class and corporate America. Why should the wealthy get a disproportinate share?

I notice Sirota strkes one or two blows to favoured Democrats, like Bayh and Breaux, but as far as the former goes, Bayh as governor of Indiana persued a course of progressive pragmatism, which was, overall, benefit of Hoosiers, which is why he enjoyed approval ratings heading into the stratosphere

The Democratic Party needs to purge itself of its far left, who, frankly, are on a hiding to nothing, with their feckless approach to defence and national secutiry, and reaffirm its progresssive pragmatism, as well as moving to the centre on wedge issues, because on many wedge issues, liberals are simply on the wrong side of the line and take America forward.

The Democrats need to be able to compete with the GOP on their natural terrain of defence and national security. Yes, the war in Iraq is unpopular (and possibly among many Republicans too) but the party must embrace realist stance. At least, realism is strong enough to mount a challenge to the excesses of neo-conservatism. Liberalism, I'm afraid, would just about fail every time

Dave
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2005, 08:12:30 am »
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Where exactly would the fringes go? The GOP
Remember Ralph Nader?
Quote
The future of America, from what I can tell, isn't 'way-out Left'.
Agree with you here. Sad
Quote
Democratic Party voters are more moderate than its liberal activists.
Or to put it another way, moderate Democrats are less likely to actually get involved and do more than cast their vote than more extremist ones. (The same holds of Republicans.) So what's your point again? Wink


If the left want to go to the likes of Ralph Nader and cut their noses off to spite their faces, that's their problem not mine but since I do care about the Democratic Party, I am likely to lose sleep over it . I sometimes wish I could give two hoots Wink

The point being the majority of Democrats are moderates not liberals, while the majority of Republicans are conservatives not moderates [perhaps I didn't make that clear enough Wink]

Dave
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« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2005, 08:33:01 am »
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Where exactly would the fringes go? The GOP
Remember Ralph Nader?
Quote
The future of America, from what I can tell, isn't 'way-out Left'.
Agree with you here. Sad
Quote
Democratic Party voters are more moderate than its liberal activists.
Or to put it another way, moderate Democrats are less likely to actually get involved and do more than cast their vote than more extremist ones. (The same holds of Republicans.) So what's your point again? Wink


If the left want to go to the likes of Ralph Nader and cut their noses off to spite their faces, that's their problem not mine but since I do care about the Democratic Party, I am likely to lose sleep over it . I sometimes wish I could give two hoots Wink
Indeed...a "to hell with the left" attitude is just as much of a cutting your nose off as a "to hell with the center" attitude.
Quote
The point being the majority of Democrats are moderates not liberals, while the majority of Republicans are conservatives not moderates [perhaps I didn't make that clear enough Wink]

Dave
Are you sure that that's true? And what definition are you using for the terms here? (Okay, se I guess the definition you're using is "self-described".)
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2005, 08:59:28 am »
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This thread became exactly what I didn't want it to be. The old "moderates" vs. "liberals" debate.

This is the key passage from the article: "Is this really true? Is a corporate agenda really "centrism"? Or is it only "centrist" among Washington's media elite, influence peddlers and out-of-touch political class?"

Thoughts on that passage?

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« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2005, 10:19:10 am »
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This thread became exactly what I didn't want it to be. The old "moderates" vs. "liberals" debate.

This is the key passage from the article: "Is this really true? Is a corporate agenda really "centrism"? Or is it only "centrist" among Washington's media elite, influence peddlers and out-of-touch political class?"

Thoughts on that passage?


Ah that. No, no, and yes.
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« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2005, 10:26:13 am »
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I believe the answer lies due to the increasing saliency among the electorate of social issues and moral values
And race. Okay, especially race.
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[Yes, given the way the GOP and it's acolytes smearing of the world 'liberal', perhaps the word 'reactionary' would be an appropriate level of abuse to level at them]
Reactionary means wanting to restore an already gone past. Given that Roe vs Wade was thirty years ago, pro-life is technically reactionary...or maybe it's actually modern, but it surely is not technically a conservative position. Wink
Quote
Sirota asserts that the DLC and GOP criticise populist Democrats as far-left extremists. Whether they do or not, I'd say it's a falicious claim bearing in mind populists are not uniformly lef let alone extremet.
I'd assume Sirota is referring mostly to people who're leftist economically as well as socially - not people as described in the next sentence:
Quote
Populists, including the likes of myself, trend left-of-centre on economic issues and right-of-centre on social issues (of cause there are varying degrees to which people affirm such principles)
Of course, the reasons why that makes sense are obvious.

Quote
Sirota is critical of the DLC's link with corporations. Has it not occured to him that moderate, or centrist, Democrats can be both pro-business and pro-labour? Why should anyone, necessarily, be mutually exclusive in favour of one over the other? Can't corporate America and unions work together for the greater good of their employees and members?
In what sense? (I'll leave the whole international perspective out for the moment, it confuses or perhaps clarifies matters further.)

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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2005, 10:33:14 am »
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"Pro-business" usually means anti-worker. It's just a nice little catch phrase to sugarcoat it.

Anyway, I agree with the article. Referring to anti-worker policies and positions as "centrist" is extremely misleading at best. The majority want pro-worker policies that will give them a higher quality of life and make everyday living more affordable.
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« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2005, 11:45:49 am »
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I don't like the economic-left/socially-right "moderates".

I much prefer the economic-moderate-right/social-left "moderates".
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« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2005, 12:08:52 pm »
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Where exactly would the fringes go? The GOP
Remember Ralph Nader?
Quote
The future of America, from what I can tell, isn't 'way-out Left'.
Agree with you here. Sad
Quote
Democratic Party voters are more moderate than its liberal activists.
Or to put it another way, moderate Democrats are less likely to actually get involved and do more than cast their vote than more extremist ones. (The same holds of Republicans.) So what's your point again? Wink


If the left want to go to the likes of Ralph Nader and cut their noses off to spite their faces, that's their problem not mine but since I do care about the Democratic Party, I am likely to lose sleep over it . I sometimes wish I could give two hoots Wink
Indeed...a "to hell with the left" attitude is just as much of a cutting your nose off as a "to hell with the center" attitude.
Quote
The point being the majority of Democrats are moderates not liberals, while the majority of Republicans are conservatives not moderates [perhaps I didn't make that clear enough Wink]

Dave
Are you sure that that's true? And what definition are you using for the terms here? (Okay, se I guess the definition you're using is "self-described".)

First point, I happen to be a pragmatist, which is why I prefer the so-called 'centrist' strategy. I happen to believe that the largest single plurality of voters belong neither to the far left nor far the right, which, basically, posits them either left-of-centre or right-of-centre. When a candidate is 'centrist' it's fair to assume that they'd appeal to the centre-right more than any leftist candidate would. In the US context, a polarised election is virtually certain to give the conservative candidate an advantage (since conservative voters outnumber liberals by 34% to 21% - or two-to-one); with them fighting the crucial centre-ground for victory. My approach is not so much one of "to hell with the left" but one of trying to establish how best to defeat the right and since the American conservatives are numerically stronger than American liberals, the centrist approach is the best option, which is why I'm not cutting my nose off to spite my face Wink.

That said, I don't suffer Democrats, who voted for Nader, or any other fringe, candidate on the grounds of it being somewhat self-defeatist and I have the same disdain for Labour voters, who might have voted Liberal Democrat in the May because of Iraq. Just because I'm a pragmatist doesn't mean that I don't hold deeply held political convictions; however, I'm open to compromise if it meant getting the desired result (i.e a Democratic president and, at least, the House or the Senate)

Second point, yes I do think GOP voters are primarily conservative. In 2004, 85% of its support came from the 34% of those who identify themselves as conservatives, which by my account represented the greatest share of Bush's 51%

I've already echoed my thoughts on Sirota's article and I'll say no more Smiley

Sorry, Scoonie Smiley for this thread descending the way it has but when things need to be said then I'll say it

Dave
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2005, 08:30:58 am »
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You sound more like a Republican than a Democrat.

He doesn't, he sounds like a democrat, but most of the democrat party are useless anyway. I can't see how so many left-wingers in this forum are partisan about them, when they're so ideologically detached.
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