(The Overton Window)
This is a guest post by Peter Daou who previously served as Internet Director for Hillary Clinton for President. Daou publishes the Daou Report.
The Glaringly Simple Formula for Rightwing Dominance of our National Debate
There is a simple formula for rightwing dominance of our national debate, even when Democrats are in charge: move the conversation as extreme right as possible, then compromise toward the far right. It’s negotiation 101.
And it’s completely lost on Democrats.
It’s what John Boehner knows that Obama and Democrats can’t seem to get a clue about:
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will call Tuesday for the mass firing of the Obama administration’s economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House adviser Larry Summers, arguing that November’s midterm elections are shaping up as a referendum on sustained unemployment across the nation and saying the “writing is on the wall.”
In one fell swoop, this is the starting point of a conversation. For Democrats it would be an end point — if they ever reached it.
It’s no accident that in 21st century America, torture has been mainstreamed, climate denial has taken firm hold, book burning, racial dog whistles and brazen religious intolerance are part of our discourse and par for the course. This is how the right plays the game, using Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox, Drudge, blogs, chain emails, talk radio, etc. to shamelessly and defiantly drag the conversation as far right as possible.
Forget the thousand explanations pundits have offered for the administration’s beef with the left; this is the single biggest reason the left is furious with Obama: that one by one, he has willingly and unnecessarily bargained away the progressive positions that would move the national debate back to the center. After all, the counterweight to the right is not the mushy middle, it’s the principled left. Did progressive bloggers really think Obama was going to establish a single payer health care system, bring all Bush warmongers to justice, stop the looting of the poor by the ultra-rich, revitalize the environmental movement, undo Bush-Cheney’s executive power excesses, bring about true social justice and stop needless wars? No. They’re far more jaded and pragmatic than anyone admits. But at least make those the debate points rather than ditch them unilaterally.
As I’ve argued, it matters not one iota if Obama is a progressive at heart. What matters is that Democrats run away from the left like it’s the plague while Republican run to the right like it’s nirvana. The net effect is that the media end up reporting far right positions as though they were mainstream and reporting liberal positions as thought they were heinous aberrations. And you wonder why America is veering off the rails?
– Peter Daou