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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
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Why right vs. left may be relics of the past

I've been struck in recent years by what I see as reactionary views championed as leftist. What constitutes left vs. right is increasingly contested. Some insist the Democratic Party has moved to the right since the 1990s (not in the 1990s but since). I have even seen some who claim to be on the left insist that Trump champions progressive causes. I have to wonder if disagreements about what constitutes Democratic values or left vs. right point to fundamental changes in politics and ideology.

An NPR interview with French academic Yascha Mounk offers some insights.

SHAPIRO: You write in Slate today that the battles of the future will not be fought between leftists and rightists or liberals and conservatives. Rather, you say they will pit the advocates of an open society against the partisans of a closed society and nationalists. Explain what that re-alignment looks like.

MOUNK: You know, whether you're a Democrat or you're a Republican, whether you in France are for the Parti Socialiste or the UMP or Les Republicains would have been decided by your stance on straightforward economic issues. If you want a slightly bigger welfare state, a little bit more redistribution, then you're on the center-left. If you want, you know, more free enterprise and a smaller welfare state, lower taxes, then you're on the center-right.

Now I think there's really coming to be this quite fundamental clash which is nicely encapsulated by Emmanuel Macron on the one side and Marine Le Pen on the other side, between people who believe that globalization is an opportunity but we need international cooperation in order to solve problems like climate change, that we should be open to the world. And people say no, the most important thing is the nation, and that stands in competition with international organizations. It has to close itself off against the world in order to have real power. It has to embrace an ethnic, cultural majority against others. And so this is what you're seeing now.

I'm a little torn about this because if a main political cleavage is between essentially defenders of liberal democracy in the current world order and ones who really want to dismantle it radically, then eventually they will sometimes win elections, and we will get real moments of turmoil like we're seeing now in the United States.

Mounk sees that political shift as extending beyond French politics. It is demonstrated in Brexit, in differences between Trump on one hand and Obama and Hillary Clinton on the other.

I think we may be seeing elements of that divide within the Democratic party, which may explain how what constitutes right or left is now so contested. Those terms may simply not be relevant to what we are currently experiencing. Perhaps we are witnessing conflicts within the party over nationalism vs. liberal globalism? Could the recent calls for understanding of and alliances with Republican voters that some consider to be the working class be part of that phenomenon? Could we be seeing an implicit understanding that left vs. right matters less than opposition to globalism?

The antipathy toward global economic relations is overt, unapologetic. Yet can a nationalist populist impulse succeed without the corresponding nativism that has undergrid its electoral successes in France, the UK, and with Trump in the US? While we don't see the racism and explicit nativism in the current Democratic party that is evident in the National Front and the movement around Trump, we do see a hierarchy of priorities. The horrifying immigration enforcement by the Trump administration has received limited attention in comparison to some other issues. I'm sure that those who think of themselves as on the other side of the party from me could come up with a host of examples of globalist tendencies they find concerning--TPP, etc. The argument following the election that Clinton lost because of inadequate opposition to TPP may also be part of the political see change that Mounk identified.

Perhaps the Democratic party will never resolve the dispute about left vs. right because the current political fissures relate to something different: nationalism vs. globalism, and closed vs. open societies?

Why the sudden urge to move the party right?

Why so anxious to throw the Democratic base under the bus to placate the precious white male Trump voters? Why are so many people running around insisting women need to stop being hysterical and become unified around an anti-choice agenda? That we need to acquiesce to power and privilege under the pretense of "unity" rather than fight for economic and social justice?

Why ignore voter disenfranchisement and continually deny the role of racism in the election--when polling data shows conclusively that race was the most important motivator of Trump voters? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/17/racism-motivated-trump-voters-more-than-authoritarianism-or-income-inequality/?utm_term=.771243eec175
Why do we see so many efforts to elevate whiteness, maleness and privilege over equality and economic justice for all? Can't people see there is no economic justice without equal rights? What is complicated about that?

There is no political expediency to promoting anti-choice candidates over those with solid Democratic, liberal voting records. There is no such thing as a progressive opponent of abortion rights, just as there is no such thing as a progressive segregationist.

Americans, even large numbers of Republican voters, overwhelmingly support a woman's right to choose. No amount of slogans about corporate this and that can conceal the fact that working to normalize an agenda that relegates more than half the population to second-class citizenship is reactionary, right-wing, and immoral. No economic justice can be achieved by forcing women and children into greater poverty by abandoning a commitment to reproductive rights. Economic growth for the privileged at the expense of the many isn't justice. It's greater inequality. How can people who claim to be on the left not understand that?

It's one thing to cast a vote in a red state because you have few options. It's another to elevate those conservatives above liberal Democrats.

We have heard for months about how important it is to empathize with and listen to Trump voters, yet those same people refuse to listen to Democrats who raise concerns about equality and justice, or anything else. Why the determination to embrace white male conservatives and the contempt for the Democratic base?

After years of complaints of how establishment Democrats are GOP lite, why do we see this effort to become like the GOP? To cater to white resentment, opposition to equal rights for women, and support for genocidal gun proliferation? Why do we see such disregard for voter disenfranchisement? Why is there so little concern for basic decency, for what it has meant to be a Democrat since the Dixiecrats left? Why the effort to abandon any concern about the rights of the majority in pursuit of the increased wealth of those who already earn substantially more than the rest of Americans? How can anyone claim promotion of bourgeois wealth while disregarding the poor and policies that create poverty is anything but immoral?

Why turn the clock back? Why not work to unite around economic justice for all rather than the accumulation of capital for those who already have more? Why is it that the actual working class has been abandoned for conservative men whose incomes average 2-7x the median wage? I don't understand any of it. Does compassion and principle not matter at all anymore?

I've been told my equal rights just aren't pragmatic

that they have to be abandoned because fighting for them is too "divisive." The GOP controls congress, so we must support politicians who share GOP views on state-control over women's bodies, on relegating us to second-class citizenship. Prioritizing the rights of over half the population just isn't practical.

Never mind the fact that a great majority of the population supports a woman's rights to chose. Never mind the fact that that women, particularly single women with children, already earn significantly less than men. Never mind the fact that without access to reproductive services, women fall into even greater poverty. The MY rights and my life must be sacrificed in pursuit of a version of economic "justice" that excludes the majority of the population.

What really matters is the "white working class," not the people who actually preform the overwhelming share of the low- and middle-wage labor, but white men who already average 2 times the median income and 7 times the median income of African Americans. Their pocket book issues are legitimate. The rest of us just too divisive, impractical.

You want division, follow that path. You want a fissure in the party where one side promotes white privilege and patriarchy while the other fights for economic and social justice for the subaltern, keep it up. Because my rights and those of other historically marginalized groups are not negotiable for me precisely because I believe in equality--not just in terms of rhetoric but in practice, in the lives of women, people of color AND white men. That is not possible without vigorous, unyielding defense of equal rights.

How can one claim to be progressive while being pro-life?

Why would a progressive campaign for someone who is pro-life and sponsored a bill to compel women seeking abortions to view ultrasounds of their fetuses? Why would progressive supporters ignore advocacy for pro-lifers, as though the equal rights of half the population weren't worth their attention?

There was already a long thread on this but many respondents avoided the key issue that concerns me: women's equal rights. Bernie is choosing to spend his time campaigning for a pro-life candidate over and above other Democrats seeking election.

“If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat,” Sanders said. “Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not.” . . .

Perhaps the strangest thing about this is that Sanders isn't vouching for Ossoff's progressivism even as he's doing so for another Democrat of pretty questionable credentials. That would be Omaha mayoral candidate and former state senator Heath Mello, whom Sanders will campaign with Thursday.

As the Wall Street Journal's Reid J. Epstein and Natalie Andrews note, Mello in 2009 sponsored a bill that would require a woman to look at ultrasound images of her fetus before undergoing an abortion (he still opposes abortion rights). Indeed, it's tough to think of something that progressives would hate more.

Why would progressives ignore ignore that

This is not Bernie derangement syndrome. This is about concern for my equal rights and those of just over half the population of America.

Abortion rights are not a wedge issue. They are fundamental civil rights. They also are directly related to poverty. Women already earn less than men. Single mothers already experience higher rates of poverty. As access to reproductive rights diminish, their poverty increases and with them the children who make up the largest portion of the American poor.

It is not possible to advocate for economic equality without supporting equal rights for women. To do so is to advocate for increased male prosperity at the expense of legal and economic equality for women.

If you truly care about economic equality, if you truly want to move the country forward rather than backward, then you must tell Bernie his support for pro-life candidates, whether Mello or Marcy Capture, is not acceptable. It is not progressive. You might agree with Bernie on every other issue he champions. You might admire him greatly, but he is wrong on this, and as citizens and his supporters you have the obligation to tell him so. Unless . . . you don't actually support women's reproductive rights or consider them of insufficient importance to even voice concern. If that's the case, you should be honest on the subject so that we can know that contemporary progressivism is defined in terms of male prosperity, with women excluded.

Campaign finance reform is enormously important

In my opinion the single most important issue facing our political system. It needs to be tackled at the level of law, through SCOTUS. I find the recasting of the issue in terms of personal virtue and away from systemic reform to be troubling. It played a role in the election of Trump, which set the cause of changing the law back exponentially because of Trump's SCOTUS appointment.

I also have the impression that you don't realize that it is already illegal for politicians to accept corporate contributions. When you see charts bandied around showing how much money they got from this or that sector of the economy, those are from people who work in those industries, without information on the type of job or their income. A teller at a bank or even a janitor is listed as being part of the financial sector.

That, however, doesn't mean that big money--whether corporate or individual--is not a serious problem. Their influence is felt most through PACs and Super Pacs. The Mercer family bankrolled Trump. That is their personal money, not corporate money. Yet the narrative you take part in ignores their influence since it isn't "corporate." Meanwhile, a small business owner who works out of their home and has a corporate tax designation to avoid personal liability is subsumed under a category that includes Pac and Super Pac money from multinational conglomerates in finance, guns, and agriculture. I submit the problem is not corporate per se but big money, whether individual or from large corporations.

This recasting of the issue AWAY from systemic reform toward personal virtue comes on the tails of a celebrity politician who successfully raised record-breaking amounts of money, both raising and spending more than any candidate at that stage in history, largely through small, individual contributions. Yet most people seeking public office don't have that kind of celebrity, and the influence of money is even greater at the congressional and local level than the presidency. Congressman spend an inordinate amount of time raising money, including individual contributions. That takes away from the work they should be doing for the people and influences laws passed. We have for some time had corporate lobbyists writing legislation. No amount of personal virtue can wish that away. There needs to be legal, systemic reform.

I submit that the money itself is a problem, both corporate and individual contributions, and it needs to be taken out of politics. I favor public financing of elections and getting rid of private contributions altogether. I do not favor the unilateral disarmament of the Democratic Party to enable the Republican Party to gain even greater strength. I instead advocate for demanding that politicians take action to reform the system.

The problem has been set back enormously by the election of Trump. I think it a tragedy that so many who claimed to favor getting big money out of politics actually worked to make it even more entrenched by mobilizing against the election of our Democratic nominee in November. They chose big money. They chose the rollback of environmental policy. They chose a whole slew of right-wing policies they claimed they opposed, which means their actions demonstrated they favored them. They have made our task exponentially more difficult.

It isn't about policy or why people voted as they did.

it is about a clear double standard in how people discuss politics.

The very idea that you and others use the trope of dynasty to attack not a third generation like the Kennedy's but the first woman major candidate because of her husband is itself odd. She was not born into political power. She was the partner of a former president during a time when women were excluded from political power (and still are at the highest levels). Policy concerns don't require holding a woman's marriage again her, or pretending she is an extension of her husband. Charges of dynasty weren't levied against Gore, despite the fact he was born into a prominent political family.

The impetus for my OP was a thread dealing with a news article saying that Chelsea Clinton was not going to seek office anytime soon. Dozens went over to express heir contempt for the very idea she might run--even though the point of the article was to say she wasn't. What policy dispute could that possibly be about? With no campaign, there is no articulation of policy. They shouted dynasty. These are the very people who call for Democrats to return to an era of an earlier dynasty, the Roosevelt's.

That some find it distressing is not surprising. People are often uncomfortable examining their own double standards.

The construction of the contemporary notion of progressive and its use by which they proclaim their separateness and superiority to the rest of Democrats is in part about gender, but it is more about race. It is overwhelmingly invoked by the white, more often than not male, bourgeoisie. It seeks to move away from "identity politics" to establish solidarity with white men on the right. It proclaims middle-class and upper-middle class economic concerns (conspicuously, not poverty) the only true cause, while insisting those who prioritize racism and women's reproductive are somehow centrist. When Sanders talks about how he knows Trump voters aren't racist, his progressive crowds break out in cheers. That reaction cannot be all about sympathy for Trump voters. It taps into something within self-proclaimed progressives themselves.

"No more dynasties"--for women, that is

How often have we heard what great progressive heroes the Kennedy's are. JFK, RFK, Teddy Kennedy, and subsequent generations still holding elected office. FDR followed Teddy Roosevelt, and he is hailed as hero. We hear no allegations of dynasty for either family. John Adams and John Quincy Adams, a prominent family at the foundation of our nation. No problem. But dare a woman try to seek elected office after her husband held it, or anyone suggest his daughter might some point in the future run for office, and we suddenly hear calls of "no more dynasties."

Chelsea was raised in a wealthy family. Hillary became rich. That, we are told, makes them unfit to serve. Meanwhile, FDR and JFK, born into far wealthier families, are heralded as icons of progressivism.

I'm here to call bullshit. Attacking women for what causes no comment in men is sexist, pure and simple. Oh, I can't be sexist. I support Liz Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. I don't disparage every woman on the planet. How could I be sexist? Plenty of people like Obama and liked Bill Cosby back in the day but still insist black people are by nature lazy or criminals. Respecting one woman or person of color doesn't mean one is immune to racism or sexism.

When people repeatedly condemn women for what they excuse in men, that's sexism, pure and simple.
And using sexism because you resent one woman--like Hillary Clinton--is no better. It's till sexism.

The whitelash that Toni Morrison wrote about as sweeping Trump to power is not limited to the GOP; nor is the malelash. Millions of women and men see through the bullshit excuses. We know that sexism was no small part of the busters and other third party voters' decisions to put Trump in office rather than vote for our nominee. We noticed that men whose main political focus had been what they insisted was male oppression refused to vote for Clinton in the GE, and we know it was because of gender. The millions who participate in Pantsuit Nation talk about this stuff all the time.

The MRA contingent has largely been banned or moved on to more misogynist pastures (I'm talking about you, Jackholes), but sexism (and racism) continues to play a force in politics across the political spectrum. If it didn't, we would not have a sexual predator in the White House using his position to excuse another sexual predator. And we wouldn't be hearing about how "dynasties" are un-American while hailing the Kennedy's and Roosevelt's as heroes.

I supported the status quo

Meals on Wheels
The State Department
The Voting Rights Act
Equal Rights
Equal pay for equal work
a DOJ that prosecuted hate crimes
A DOJ that enforced voting rights
A DOJ that defined freedom from rape as enforceable under Title IX
A White House that valued diversity rather than White Supremacy
A President who didn't insult our allies
A time when the US held elections without interference by a foreign power
When the government respected science
When hatred of immigrants and Muslims wasn't promoted from the Oval Office
When we had a president that respected all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexuality.

Now that status quo has been shattered, and there is nothing I want more than for it to be restored.

You have no moral high ground

Which part of the constitution? And where does it say the Democratic Party is responsible for punishing the opposition in the constitution? I'd like to know the specific provisions you believe the Democrats failed to enforce? And how is it you determined that congress rather than the courts are responsible for protecting the constitution? That would come as quite a surprise to constitutional scholars and middle-school civics teachers.

Democrats did stand up in 2001: The Congressional Black Caucus, the Democrats that "progressives" consistently ignore, when they aren't calling them establishment. They are the ones who always stand up.

Let me see if I understand this argument: Your view is that a sizable portion of the electorate was angry at the Democratic Party for failing to impeach every Republican President since the 1980s, and because of that they decided to elect an incredibly narcissistic, unstable Republican with a White Supremacist agenda--a fascist? I would ask for evidence but I know none exists. No one was polled on those issues. This is yet another of a string of posts in which the author projects on to the election their own views. Given that yours date back decades before the election, they stand out as particularly strained.

I think there are a few themes that run throughout the arguments that third-party and "leftist" Trump voters were justified: 1) a contempt of government. Liberals and Democrats typically have seen government as having the capacity to do good. The self-described "left" now shares the right-wing antipathy toward government; 2) self-entitlement: We have a population that thinks nothing of wishing and working to inflict the very worst on the nation in order to exact revenge. The Trump supporters we saw at rallies wanted revenge on the non-white male population they believe have too much; some self-proclaimed progressives (who are in fact regressive) chose to deliver the country to fascism out of their anger at the Democratic Party and Democratic voters. Their reasons seem to vary. Some share the Trumpster resentment of women and people of color, some are simply indifferent to the suffering of others. They site different justifications, from TPP to now Iran-Contra, but the common thread is an intense desire to punish. Their anger at the Democratic party justifies punishing the poor and vulnerable through the policies Trump made clear he would enact during the campaign. Better to have a president who orders raids of schools and community events, stops cars (well within the US borders) demanding proof of citizenship, and implements a Muslim ban, all part of a project to whiten America?

One thing most of the anti-Democrats have in common is white male entitlement, an entitlement so impenetrable that no number of human lives endangered can compete with their anger. We see people certain that their own resentment matters more than anything, that government should channel their EMOTIONS and exact revenge on the those they so despise. That the populations must hurt by their protests votes are overwhelmingly women and people of color gives them common ground (even if only in practice rather than intent) with the right-wing Trump voters who resent the very same people. It is not self-labeling that determines what someone is but their actions. They collaborated with the alt-right to impose a fascist regime, and they succeeded. Fascism is as fascism does.

You have no moral high ground. There is NOTHING moral about the notion that self-important rage justifies inflicting suffering on the most vulnerable. Far from it. It is a worldview based on ego. A public that acts out of narcissism elects a narcissist who manifests their same indifference to human suffering. What matters is self, and that is an approach that shares far more in common with Ayn Rand than leftist ideologies based on community and collectivism.

Dear Canada

Finders Keepers

You can have this one instead.

The world thanks you for your sacrifice. Remember that we have a shitload of nukes, and, really, who do you want controlling them?
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