Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics is ranting about an article by Thomas Friedman that compares Karl Rove to big tobacco executives, in that he sells a product that kills its customers. He says, “Silly. So silly, in fact, that if Tom Freidman’s [sic] name wasn’t attached to it I might easily have mistaken it for a post over at Daily Kos.”
Given that Friedman is hardly a radical leftist, what this suggests isn’t so much that he’s moving left as that Daily Kos isn’t that liberal. Shrill, sure. Partisan, definitely. But not really liberal; liberal websites don’t as a rule rant about how pro-choicers are all latte liberals or complain about single-issue groups, which form the core of progressive activism (Kos’s netroot swarm model and overall agenda are more in line with reformism).
On most issues important to voters, the Democratic Party is to the right of the average American. Don’t believe what WorldNetDaily tells you about Democrats and communism; the Democratic Party only takes a left-wing position on anything when it polls higher than 60-70%, and even then it underemphasizes it in its campaigns.
The progressive movement that Kos speaks of is marginally to the average American’s left, but that’s only because of its focus on domestic spying. On health care, education, and Iraq, it’s dead center. There has to be a really liberal alternative to slightly better health care, education, and civil liberties, and getting out of Iraq.
But even the emerging liberal alternative is fairly moderate. Unfortunately, a lot of liberals look too much at polling data and conclude that just because something doesn’t poll well in a center-shifted climate, it’s not a good cause to support. Bullshit, I say. Polls will almost always show that the people consider radical what the fringe of one party says. The really radical liberalism is poll-independent. Look at the following agenda items and tell me if the Democrats really are radicals:
– Abolition of all immigration restrictions, customs checks, and border controls. If you don’t need papers to move from Alabama to New York, you shouldn’t need papers to move from Mexico to the US.
– Increasing the minimum wage to $10.00/hour, indexed to inflation. Britain’s at $8.00 and has 80% the USA’s GDP per capita and an unemployment rate of 5.5%.
– A reduction in military spending to less than 2% of GDP; the US doesn’t use its military for peacekeeping anyway, and the last time a military force won an anti-terrorist campaign was in the Malayan emergency, when Britain was fighting an insurgent force most people hated.
– A universal single-payer health care system modeled after the US Veterans’ Affairs.
– Abolition of non-medical restrictions on abortion and birth control.
– Guaranteed funding to public schools of at least $7,000 per student, higher in areas where the cost of maintaining a school and paying its teachers is higher (New York City needs $15,000, for instance).
– Nationalized standards for education, school graduation, and certification of teachers.
– Unlimited scholarships for five years in public universities. If the University of Paris can have elite status without tuition, so can Berkeley.
– Abolition of state-sanctioned marriage. The state can instead recognize civil unions among up to 6 people, or co-parenting relationships.
– Removal of all state recognition of religion, including tax-exempt churches, military chaplains, and references to gods in national symbols; and all state-imposed patriotism, such as pledges of allegiance and laws against flag desecration.
– Gutting of all farm aid and other corporate welfare, including export subsidies and protectionism of local industry.
– Suspension of all CIA operations and NSA spying pending judicial and Congressional oversight, and restructuring the US intelligence community to focus on information gathering rather than toppling democratic regimes in Latin America.
– An absolute right to unionize, and punitive fines on corporations that fire workers for organizing.
When the Democrats support even one of these, wake me up.