Hot take: Centrists will always ultimately defect to the side that asks the least of them ethically, and in this era that's the right-wing. It's only a matter of time (and adequate cover) for most of them.
The left wing should concentrate instead on speaking to those whose apathy masks disillusioned passion.
@erosdiscordia @MatejLach You know, I never asked myself what I'd vote for if I was constrained to only two parties on opposite extremes of the political spectrum. As a Norwegian and a centrist, I'm spoiled. Not only are there bona fide centrist parties with reps in parliament; the traditional social-democrat and conservative parties are pretty close to centre too.
You can be a centrist and it's fine, if the centre is actually more or less in the centre.
In the U.S. there's no parties "on opposite extremes of the political spectrum" anymore.
The Republicans have over the years gone batshit insane to the right and the Democrats have followed them along, so now the Democrats hold positions that were in the Republican platform in the 80s.
There's no real left, aside from a small, Bernie-inspired insurgency since 2016.
What this 'radical' insurgency in the Democratic Party is proposing are things like tax-funded healthcare and sane laws on abortion, things which we Europeans take more or less for granted. There's somewhere around 45,000 people in the U.S. that die simply because they do not have access to basic healthcare.
Universal healthcare is a left-wing priority in the U.S., but not anywhere else. It's a centrist position in much of the developed world. So now, the American 'radical left' is fighting not for far-left positions, but for positions that even the majority of Democratic leadership still doesn't support, even if these policies are super centrist, like universal healthcare.
I mean Obamacare was originally the Republican plan and it was adopted by Democrats.
@erosdiscordia @MatejLach I frankly don't know what I would've done if faced with the choice between Trump and Clinton in 2016, apart from wasting my vote on a third party candidate. I think the only thing I'd know for certain is that, given the state of the union, I would perhaps be looking for a person who could shake things up a bit, since Obama didn't really deliver on that promise. Clinton wasn't that person, but Trump? Uhh, maybe I would've just stayed home...
Yeah, many did. I probably would've voted for Jill Stein, even knowing full well that she has no chance.
Basically, the problem is that the Washington accepted 'centre' is no centre at all, it is right-wing and far-right.
You'd think that Democrats would be for single payer, but according to ie Clinton, "it'll never, ever come to pass".
Given this, I find it funny/sad when people brand someone like Bernie a left-wing radical. He's a European centrist.
@MatejLach @marsxyz @erosdiscordia No, but one thing you do see the European right wingers do a fair bit is try to privatise the health sector, or to cut the budgets. There's this idea that you can get health services cheaper if there's free market competition, and then you can cut taxes. I mean, it's the typical right winger thing...
This is very true, but they do not say it out loud, because they know that among their voters, having universal healthcare is now no longer a left/right thing, even if it originally started as one.
In the U.S., the Republicans and corporate Democrats are pretty overt about rejecting universal healthcare, or even dismantle Obamacare in the Republican case. They'll tell it to your face and try to sell it as a good thing.
@MatejLach @marsxyz @erosdiscordia The reason it doesn't make much sense to use an absolute definition of left and right becomes evident if you look at the reactionary vs progressive axis. Young progressives often become old reactionaries because the goalposts moved. If the status quo moves left or right, the parties will readjust themselves. The status quo helps define what's politically realistic to accomplish, and what's acceptable to say.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia Things like gay rights are typical US liberal causes, right? I mean, those are typical European leftist causes too. Granted, few actually oppose such rights in the first place, but the right wing is rarely at the forefront of social change. Progressivism seems to be mainly for the leftists or center-left, no matter which continent you're on.
Right, but the problem is where you're starting from.
In Europe, we start from the centre, so there's the left & right etc. In the U.S. they start from the right, so there's the less crazy right, (branded as left), crazy right, (branded just right) and then there's the 'centre', (branded as far left).
So in effect you cannot have a real far-left in the U.S.
I mean, here in the U.K., it is actually the Conservatives who implemented marriage equality.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia I don't think it makes sense to use an absolute scale. The more important question is which direction a party is trying to pull the country in. As far as I can tell, the US left is still trying to pull left, but since the status quo is further right, the starting point is different.
In a sense, you're right, but to use the tired example, would you in the age of Nazi Germany consider a statement such as 'Jews are people' as being 'far-left' or just sane, or 'centre' if you will.
I think any outsider looking in would say that's a pretty centrist statement. It's just that Hitler has gone so far right, he would likely consider it left-wing.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia In the context of US politics, it's right wing. In the context of EU politics, that's a typical populist/extreme right wing stance. I just accept these as different planets instead of trying to define it on the same scale. I'd have to accept this shift of thinking if I was going to live in the United States. You have to operate within the room you've been given.
I get what you're saying, but there's no reason to confine yourself this way. If you do, you'd never improve the status quo because you cannot see outside your own bubble.
Other metrics you may use are: Where is the richest nation on this planet standing in relation to other, similarly developed nations?
The people who adopted real-change never looked at what they had and said, "oh, I guess that's it then".
Also, on the relative vs absolute scale thing.
Why is relative scale accepted so strongly only in politics? If I for example started arguing that this laptop am typing this from is 'a supercomputer', people would laugh at me, even as it holds true that it is the most powerful computer in my house.
Why? Because we understand that we cannot define supercomputer using such a relative scale.
Why should we do so in politics then?
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia Policy changes over time too. I mean, there's a political party in Norway called the Left Party. At the time, they were considered leftists, but now they are considered centrists. Why? Because the Labour Party came into existence, and they were much further left than the old left, but they kept the name.
Ok, but there's no significant 'left' party, or even a centrist party in the U.S. and I think even Americans agree if you look at the polls. Many 'left' issues are majority popular. Universal healthcare has majority public support, so it should be a centrist position now to support it, no?
But nor the Democrats, nor the Republicans do so, because they're both right-wing.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia The Democrats strike me as "American leftists". They're as left wing as you can be in America and still have a fighting chance. If they have moved right over the years, it's because being further left was costing them voters. When I look at something like Obamacare, I see a compromise. He wasn't able to get anything else passed, but probably would've done so if he could've. At least that's how I interpret the Democrats. They're doing what they can within limits.
See, am not so charitable. I think they have moved further to the right, because that's whee the corporate donors are and they want that sweet, sweet cash. It has nothing to do with the voters, in fact left-wing policies tend to be popular with the voters. Bernie got a standing ovation even in deeply red sates.
Obama didn't pass anything other than Obamacare, because he's beholden to healthcare insurance companies, not because of the voters.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia In that context, I'd consider them to have taken a reasonably bold leftist stance, because the same person might've taken an even stronger leftist stance if society had allowed for it. People's minds shift based on standards. People define themselves by comparing themselves to other people.
Right, at some point, you also have to look at the definition of terms accepted by most scholars and re-evaluate whether you still fit them to call yourself what you call yourself.
The Democrats have been going to the right since the 80s, (now there's a small group of them trying to backtrack), so where are they now?
Are they still on the left? I know they say they are, but if all they've been doing is going right, are they?
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia If you look at the Labour Party in Norway, their positions have also moved further to the center. The Labour Party basically implemented New Public Management in Norway during the 1990s, an idea they apparently got from Margaret Thatcher. But they still have what I'd call a leftist profile, in the sense that they like to accuse the other side of wanting things that right wingers want, even if they'd do exactly the same thing if they were in government...
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia The US Democrats do something like it too. In a sense, it's more about public image than genuine policy differences in the case of Norway. The two largest parties are both close to the center in terms of actual policy. The right wingers might reduce the taxes a tiny bit while the left wingers increase them a tiny bit.
I've had many American friends tell me that they're tax averse only because NONE of the parties are willing to give them SOMETHING WORTHWHILE for them, like healthcare.
They said that if the Democrats actually went ahead and implemented universal healthcare, they wouldn't be so tax-averse. If your tax dollars are only going to bombs in Afghanistan, I can imagine why you'd be tax averse.
@MatejLach @erosdiscordia Well, somehow, candidates who do attempt to promote such things in the US never seem to make it... I suspect Americans are tax averse because there is little trust in the government, especially the federal government. It's a vicious circle. The citizens never let the government do good, so they don't trust them to do good, etc.
On that note, the Democrats should also promote cutting the oversized military budget and fund some programs with that, without having to raise taxes. Yes, they don't do that and instead vote with Trump, giving him an ADDITIONAL 17B military budget, even as they say that he's a madman and hijacked by Putin.
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As a U.S. Green, I've never considered my vote a waste. The end game has always been growing the party and planting the seeds for a multiparty system.
I'm weary of U.S. Neolib talking points in general, but seeing them propagated further by people who live in bona fide multi-party systems is a whole extra level of dismay.
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