The most important news happening in Washington this month is not the White House/Republican compromise—which will include a two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthy, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes; no, the biggest and perhaps overlooked story is the apparent about-face the president has done in terms of his agenda. It’s clear that he has been moving away from the far-left politician he once claimed to be, to a centralist president who values compromise over principles.
There is nothing wrong with compromise if bipartisanship really exists between the left and the right. But how many acts of real bipartisanship have we seen over the last couple of years?
The answer? Zero.
According to Dana Milbank, a writer for the Washington Post, Obama’s recent compromise and follow up press conference, in which he attacked members of his own party, “delivered to disgruntled liberals a message summed up by Vice President Biden in a private session with lawmakers on Wednesday: Take it or leave it.”
This idea that politics have run amuck and neglected reasonable and rational thoughts in the halls of Congress is only partly correct. The far right, also known as conservative Republicans, have been pushing their doctrine of ‘my way or the highway” on the minority party.
However, the far left really can’t find fault with anyone but themselves since they have been relatively absent from political debates.
Of course, there are far-left leaning democrats and independents such as Bernie Sanders, who is probably the only member of Congress that can be accurately called a socialist. But overall, far left ideas, as well as far-left Congress members, are few and far between.
Though it’s been argued that the health care reform act attempted to push a far-left, socialist agenda, most of us knew from jump that the bill would be more “pragmatic” than idealistic. The same can be said for other measures such as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and housing foreclosures, which all seem to have been guided by a moderate rationale than liberal.
There are roughly twice as many self-identified conservatives in America than liberals, and around 35 percent of all Americans view their political leanings as centrist, which means that having a far-left agenda in Congress would almost guarantee defeat by a more moderate-leaning candidate come election time.
The reality is that there is no such thing in Washington as bipartisanship, no more than there is the far left. This is not to say that there will be no compromising, but the negotiation will only happen between the center, or moderate agenda, and the far right, since a left-leaning agenda rarely makes it to the House floor.
Think about it: if the far left had any control over the Democratic Party, wouldn’t there have been more reception of far left ideas such as free education through graduate school, free childcare and other benefits for working parents, and real socialized health services—not the watered down, insurance industry-backed healthcare system we have now?
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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