Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Progressive is the New Center

Martin O'Malley along with Harold Ford Jr. authored an op/ed piece in today's Washington Post titled "Our Chance to Capture the Center." On its face this seems a reasonable endeavor. Centrist voters are the swing demographic in electoral politics, especially the coveted soccer moms. Cast your party and candidates as the moderate alternative to your hyper ideological opponents and then offer sensible policy proposals.

However, that is not what this op/ed does. It is merely progressive wish projection. O'Malley and Ford do not offer themselves or their party as sensible moderates so much as they try to redefine the center toward the left. That is, they project their ideology and policy preferences onto "the center." Politically, it is a savvy move designed to shore up netroots support for Hillary Clinton. The tactic works like this. Define the progressive left and centrists as one and the same, then call it the “center”. This has the effect of calming the netroots and deceiving actual centrist voters. However, this is patently untrue. O’Malley and Clinton are progressives, not centrists. They are tying to have it both ways by deceiving centrist voters.

O’Malley and Ford state, "With an ambitious common-sense agenda, the progressive center" can win the White House and create a governing majority like FDR. Firs this statement is classic Martin O'Malley. It talks big, but does not really say much, and is partly self-contradicting. O'Malley is surely, if anything at all, ambitious, but he lacks any common sense. Exhibit A: O’Malley’s campaign pledge to stop the BGE rate hike, and change the universal economic laws of supply and demand. Only O’Malley’s political ambition could override the common sense that should have told him there was no way to stop a legal rate hike. The “progressive center” is an oxymoron. By definition progressive cannot mean the center because progressives are constantly moving away from the center on their road to Utopia. Centrists do not like it when political parties move too far in one direction. Furthermore, FDR built a lasting majority not by appealing to centrists, but through creating permanent interest groups and doling out federal dollar to those groups, ensuring an ever-expanding federal government.

What are O’Malley and Ford’s practical centrist plans, to help Americans uninterested in partisan politics solve their problems? Cap and trade schemes for carbon emissions, universal healthcare, rebuilding an “embattled” military, and assistance to the working poor (higher taxes).

How many centrists believe that catastrophic manmade global warming is a real threat and not a backdoor to socialism and rent seeking by unscrupulous corporations?

How many centrists want socialized medicine? How many want to pay for it?

How many centrists want higher taxes? In O’Malley speak they taxes are called “investments.”

How many centrists believe that progressives actually care about the military? You would not think that progressives cared about the military from what took place when a soldier showed up to debate the paragons of progressivism at the Yearly Kos.

Interestingly enough chief Kossack himself Markos Moulitsos declared, “We are the center.” This highlights the dilemma of Democratic politicians stuck between appealing to the swing votes in the center and the progressive netroots on the far left. O’Malley’s political patron, Hillary Clinton is squarely in this pickle, she is no stranger to biting criticism from Kos and the progressive netroots. It is no coincidence that O’Malley’s op/ed piece appeared only days after Hillary attended the Yearly Kos to shore up support from the netroots, who once scolded her. Why try to appease the netroots when all you have to do is pull an Orwellian switch and fool centrist swing voters into thinking that netroots policy preferences are in line with what they believe.

O’Malley and Ford claim “proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Marylanders can tell you just how sour O’Malley’s policies taste.

Politicians like O’Malley (I cannot speak to Harold Ford) do not care about centrists. Oh sure he will appeal to them in campaigns, like he did in 2006, but once he wins, centrists and their non progressive concerns are jettisoned for progressive policies like higher taxes and expanding government.

To the centrists out there don’t be fooled.

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