The Problem With Our Politics

(1) The Democratic Party is a centrist party accommodating a range of views. The GOP is universally extremist.

Via Erik Rising, this Nate Silver chart:

(2) The media mostly refuses to acknowledge this fact.

Steve Kornacki on Tom Friedman

the basic contours of Friedman’s dream debt ceiling deal — the one that all of our national leaders are too blinded by ideology and partisanship to see — are identical to the basic contours of the debt ceiling deal that Obama offered congressional Republicans. …

But there’s not a word in Friedman’s column about any of this — no credit to the president for being willing to endure abuse from many liberals in the name of pursuing a “grand bargain” on revenues and entitlements, and no acknowledgment that this is not just another case of “Washington” being broken. Sure, he does mention that Tea Party intransigence has been a problem and urges “sane Republicans” to stand up to their base. But from reading Friedman’s column, you’d think the crisis is equally the making of both parties, and that none of the principals have been willing to bargain in good faith with the other side. This just isn’t the case at all.  The reality is that Obama risked alienating a chunk of his own base in order to reach across the aisle and make a deal and Republicans responded by saying no and walking away.

Friedman closes with this:

But if neither Republicans nor Democrats can see that we need a hybrid politics today — one that requires cutting, taxing and investing as part of a single nation-building strategy (phased in over time) — then I’ll hope for a third party that does get it and can take us where we need to go.

Because that’s what would make all the difference right now — a brand-new president to come in and … make pretty much the same offer that Obama has already made (and an offer he was prepared to force a good number of Democrats to accept). We can certainly argue over whether Obama should have put Social Security and Medicare on the table. But you’d think we could all at least agree that he did do it.

EDITED TO ADD: Again, DougJ at BJ is on what I’ve been writing about today:

Pretty soon the far-left position is that we should continue with traditional macroeconomic policy and accept the findings of climate scientists, while the far right position is that we should go on the gold standard and admit that snow in Buffalo proves the earth is not getting warmer. The sensible centrist positions—embraced by Brian Williams, Ruth Marcus, Charlie Rose, and the rest—are to do nothing on global warming, while allowing that it may be happening, and to adopt Hooverist economic policies, while allowing that the gold standard may be going too far.

The MSM is deep in the throes of centrism. You can’t rationally split the difference when one of the parties is insane. But centrists like those folks, Clive Crook, Tom Friedman, and more or less everyone else opinionating on TV and on op-ed pages do it anyway. Hence, centrism is decoupled from reality.

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  • http://www.tarheelred.wordpress.com Pino

    Interesting stuff.

    One note: The nation is a center right nation. Even among Democrats, the most liberal state is only able to measure a 45 ish. And the governor of that state comes in at a whopping 5 on the scale!

    It is fascinating to note that the most moderate Republican governor, save the outlier, only measures a 75ish.

    As mentioned in the article, I suspect that this has to do with the recent elections. The last crop of Governors were much more moderate. This is almost certainly due to the Tea Party influence.

    I wish Nate would have gone a little deeper into his data. I would like to see what questions he used to rank them and the specific scores. I acknowledge that as fiscal conservatism ratchets up so too does social conservatism, which sucks, but I think that the current crop of governors are much more fiscally focused than socially. Again, I know the trend will be toward the right on both, but I think that’s by accident.

    But, back to it. If we are too stay in touch with the voters, our compromise should be much more “conservative” in nature than “liberal”. I suspect that isn’t the lesson the Left would take from this, but…

    • http://poisonyourmind.com reflectionephemeral

      “I wish Nate would have gone a little deeper into his data. I would like to see what questions he used to rank them and the specific scores.”

      Yeah, there’s more to be learned, overall, than results from govs’ responses to this survey. This isn’t a conversation ender.

      “I acknowledge that as fiscal conservatism ratchets up so too does social conservatism, which sucks, but I think that the current crop of governors are much more fiscally focused than socially.”

      I don’t think that’s the case– we’ve seen a whole bunch of anti-same-sex marriage and bizarre anti-Planned Parenthood stuff from the new Republicans.

      As to the US as a center-right nation, surveys show that more Americans think of themselves as “conservative” than as “liberal,” but once you get into actual policy questions, eg, on taxation, abortion, the public option, gay marriage, etc., Americans tend to agree with typically Democratic positions.

      That makes sense– in a country like the US, where conservative values are dead on the right wing, we’d expect a PR campaign against the word “liberal” to have a larger negative impact than a decade or three of governance by Republicans that fails to show much in the way of conservative results.

      • http://www.tarheelred.wordpress.com Pino

        Well, I’m not sure how we arbitrate that. My position is that social conservatism does increase with fiscal. You take the position that in this case that social conservatism has increased more than that?
        Hmmm….

        The same sex stuff kills me. Just stupid.

        The Planned Parenthood…. So, not only do people have to agree with you on abortion but they have to pay for it as well?
        I’ll ask my favorite question on this issue:

        “if the far-right extreme position is no abortion ever for any reason, what is the equivalent far-left extreme position.?”
        What is the compromise? For example, I think it’s here:

        1. Anytime for any reason before life is established.
        2. Choice of mother where she is the victim of a crime.
        3. Choice of mother where life or health of baby/mother is at risk. 4. No “abortion of convenience”

        Is that an acceptable stance?

        -p

        • http://poisonyourmind.com reflectionephemeral

          “My position is that social conservatism does increase with fiscal. You take the position that in this case that social conservatism has increased more than that? Hmmm….”

          Yeah, tough to quantify, admittedly. We could debate it for a while.

          I don’t think there are any fiscal conservatives left in the Republican Party. They all left after the unfunded Bush tax policies, the unfunded invasion & occupation of Iraq, the unfunded prescription drug benefit for seniors, etc. Anyone who cares about (budget) policy issues, like Bruce Bartlett, has left the Republican Party. Republicans don’t care about the deficit. We know that.

          As to Planned Parenthood, defunding them isn’t about abortion, it’s about attacking perceived enemies. Remember, it’s been illegal to use federal money for abortions since the Hyde amendment in I think the 1980s. The practical implications of GOP monkeying on this issue:

          the bill could leave as many as 22,000 patients without access to Pap tests, birth control and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. The governor’s office said the law will affect 7 entities in Indiana that have a total of 34 locations in 21 counties.

          So, I decline to engage your hypothetical at this time, because that’s not what’s happening.

  • http://www.tarheelred.wordpress.com Pino

    As to Planned Parenthood, defunding them isn’t about abortion, it’s about attacking perceived enemies. Remember, it’s been illegal to use federal money for abortions since the Hyde amendment in I think the 1980s.

    Well. Not really.

    If Federal Funds go to paying the secretary, the lights, the heat, the computers, the rent and the staples for the building and organization that performs abortions, it’s hard to argue that Federal money isn’t going to fund abortions.

    That’s because the pro-life movement is interested in preventing abortions, it’s about government mandating of traditional gender roles.

    What? But that reminds me, I’ll post.

    So, I decline to engage your hypothetical at this time, because that’s not what’s happening.

    Cool. But I’ll try to remember later.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com reflectionephemeral

      Oh, weird, missed that you’d replied when I edited my earlier comment; I blame Disqus sorting by “popular now,” rather than chronologically.

      If money is that fungible, then why not cut off funding to the sewer system of anyone doing anything you don’t like. And if funding things I don’t like is unconscionable, why can’t I get a tax rebate for every bit of funding that went to the occupation of Iraq.

      Defunding PP isn’t about abortions. And if the pro-life movement were interested in reducing abortions, it would be the world’s greatest force for availability of contraception. It’s not.

      • http://www.tarheelred.wordpress.com Pino

        And if funding things I don’t like is unconscionable, why can’t I get a tax rebate for every bit of funding that went to the occupation of Iraq.

        Well, no ones asking for a rebate. We’re just saying we want to vote to stop the practice. If you wanna end the war in Iraq, then get the votes to do that. Heck, they’re trying to get the votes to end Libya.

        Defunding PP isn’t about abortions.

        Of course it is.

        And if the pro-life movement were interested in reducing abortions, it would be the world’s greatest force for availability of contraception.

        As my daughter gets older, I expect to teach her about things like booze, drugs sex and rubbers. That’s hard enough to type let alone contemplate. With that said, I’d like it to be me that has that privilege. There are a lot of people who think that PP employees may not be the best qualified to be the gatekeeper of that knowledge.

        But I agree. If more people would accept the fact that people like sex and that rubbers prevent more people, the world would be better for it.

        One thing I try to point out when debating these far-right folks is that it seems the mothers having abortions are able to self identify that they are the at-risk population. The ratio of abortions among the at risk population is much higher than the ratio among non at-risk. Further, the idea that abortion has been bringing down the crime rate is a fascinating discovery.

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