The right-shifted spectrum of US politics

Here’s Ben Smith writing about what he sees as a major shift in Democratic party policies.

Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party.

While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.

I know, it’s been a distracting month. So you’re forgiven if you missed the big development on the Democratic Party policy front: the call for “a large-scale, permanent program of public employment and infrastructure investment.” That plan, titled “A Marshall Plan for America,” came not from Bernie Sanders but from the Center for American Progress, the Clintonite Washington think tank John Podesta led.

It is only in the world of mainstream media in the US that anyone could say that Hillary Clinton represented ‘center left liberalism’ or that Barack Obama’s views are wildly different from those of Al Gore.

All of them (both Clintons, Obama, and Gore) are better described as center-right. Bernie Sanders can be described as center-left. And of course Republicans range from extreme right to just plain nuts. This is why the political ‘center’ in the US would be seen as pretty right wing in other countries.


  1. invivoMark says

    I don’t understand the statement, “make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.” Is this because I was too young to be politically aware when Gore was still relevant? Or is the comparison nonsense? I thought Gore was pretty much a pro-war, pro-capitalist, pro-Wall Street centrist who didn’t particularly care overmuch for civil liberties, and that pretty much sums up Barack Obama, too.

    This viewpoint seems to be shared by present Democratic party leadership. So what’s actually shifting? I find Smith’s point hard to follow. Other than maybe being open to single-payer healthcare (and it still seems to me the party leadership is adamantly opposed to it), what’s supposed to be changing?

  2. dobby says

    I remember Al Gore and he was not very leftest (except maybe on the environment. But I always thought that protecting the environment was a non-partisan issue.) Of course that did not stop right wing talk radio from painting him as some kind of communist. Just look at what the said about Obama.

  3. lanir says

    Couldn’t really parse his explanations for what was changing. I definitely don’t trust the Democratic party at this point. These things they’re suggesting sound good but they may all evaporate the second they get the ability to do something about it, as so many other things have (like single payer the first time around). They’re still stuck hunting for money spigots to suck from and until that changes we’ll get lots of lies and stupidity with occasional cake thrown to the masses. Whether they want to be a Progressive Party or a rather banal and hard to support Party of Not Quite As Deranged As Those Other Guys has yet to be proven. And they have a LOT of proving to do.

  4. jrkrideau says

    This is why the political ‘center’ in the US would be seen as pretty right wing in other countries.

    Oh it is, it is. Much of the US “centre” would be considered main-stream Conservative here in Canada. Of course, much of the right-wing Republican core would be seen as batS*T crazy here.

    Heck, I don’t think Myron Thompson or Steven Harper were that extreme, politically.

  5. says

    The Dems are going to get used to being the party of lesser evil, thereby endlessly ceeding the initiative to the party of overt evil. Choice? You have no choice. I hope Cthulhu rises and runs; let’s get it over with.

  6. says

    This is why the political ‘center’ in the US would be seen as pretty right wing in other countries.

    Indeed. From a European perspective, America has no left wing.

  7. Jenora Feuer says

    But I always thought that protecting the environment was a non-partisan issue.

    It should be a non-partisan issue. But when one party counts the “you can’t tell me what to do!” sorts as among its strongest supporters, including the types who consider rolling coal to be a protest movement, and has a long history of insisting that government regulation of any sort is always bad… protecting the environment becomes partisan.

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