Home | About | Donate

It's Time to Redefine Left, Right, and Especially "Center" in US Politics

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/03/its-time-redefine-left-right-and-especially-center-us-politics

1 Like

The reason big money Republicans were able to brand both liberals and conservatives in the Reagan era is that the Republicans had a core philosophy and a core base, while the Democrats have never offered something cohesive either philosophically or on policy, and their base recognizes their simultaneous pandering to big business, minorities, and the working class for what is: A hopelessly transparent, hamfisted, and dishonest attempt to satisfy everyone, thereby satisfying no one.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to cleave off the consistently liberal segment of voters within a third party and leave the d-party to moderates, and the r-party to the right. That’ll make coalition building a matter of respecting liberal positions rather than the automatic move rightward we now expect from d-party leadership. For example, can anyone point to a single policy stance Nancy Pelosi has taken that reflects the supposedly liberal opinions that Americans hold, according to the author? I can’t think of one – in fact, I can only recall disparaging remarks she has made about liberal policy. And why is she free to do that? Because she knows damn well that liberals like AO-C and Tlaib and Khanna are going to fall in line when the pressure is on and big corporate money lays down the marching orders: status quo, hup, two, three, foe…

The problem with liberals? They’re too cowardly and submissive to exert power.


Sadly, however, they had nowhere to go.

As usual, Atcheson ignores the Green Party. It’s his personal Madison Avenue campaign to erase the third party alternative.


The very existance of The Third Way, one of the groups who gutted the Dem party in the 90’s, is anti-liberal, and wa a-ay anti-progress. The entire
“movement” was intended to move the party hard right to keep up with the post-Reagan times. “Let’s make ourselves more like the Republicans!”
The sooner we are rid of any vestige of that the better.


“By Reagan’s second term “liberal” became toxic”.

Note that Reagan’s second term began in 1985, the same year that the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) was formed to accelerate the rightward drift of both parties. What Democratic Party operatives continue to label “bipartisan 1986 tax reform”, the most regressive tax reform in history (until Trump’s 2017 tax cuts usurped that record) was the DLC’s first action to prove that they were with the 1% irrespective of the negative impact to the 99%.

The GOP propaganda campaign would not have been the resounding success it is today if not for DLC complicity that resulted in Obama having a more right of center track record than Nixon.

No discussion of “the center” is complete without illustrating just how far to the right the center has moved during the past four decades.


“It’s time we redrew the political map around the coordinates defined by the people’s values, not the labels purchased by the uber-rich and elites.”

Indeed – precisely as Mr. Atcheson says – it is time to redraw the U.S. political map.

But the only way that can possibly happen is by revolution – hopefully nonviolent – though first the Moronic Majority has to at long last recognize “American Democracy” for what it truly is: the most malevolent Big Lie and deadliest con-game ever thrust on humanity.

Then perhaps we will stop wasting our national energy by attempting to make a designed-to-be-oppressive system work, and focus instead on forcing the creation of genuinely representative government – genuinely representative for the 99 Percent majority, and not the tiny, malevolent minority of our now all-powerful masters.

But that will never happen – we the subjugated people are obviously too terminally brainwarped to ever again revolt regardless of the magnitude of oppression – which means our liberty is already as extinct as our entire species will soon be.


Sad but true!!
Please! Someone prove me wrong.

1 Like

Actually I should have phrased it a bit better. Properly constructed fourth graf should have read:

“Then perhaps we will stop wasting our national energy by deluding ourselves we can make a pretend democracy of a system designed to preserve slavery, and focus instead on forcing the creation of genuinely representative government – genuinely representative for the 99 Percent majority, and not the tiny, malevolent minority of the now all-powerful masters who so gleefully tyrannize us now.”

Also, bear in mind Trump is the perfect Neoliberal facilitator, behind his smokescreen of vituperative chaos, giving our Capitalist overlords absolutely everything they want.

Which is why – short of a genuine socialist revolution – Trump is certain to be re-elected next year.

You are likely right. No one is going to jump until something is landing on them personally.
"First they came for the money, I had no money so I did nothing. Then they came for "::::----

1 Like

Eugene Debs still is the voice we should be heeding. Even if his words are over a hundred years ago they remain very relevant.

“…You are howling against the trusts, and the trusts are laughing at you. You keep on voting in the same old way, and the trusts will keep on getting what you produce. You say congress will give you relief. Good heavens! Who will save us from congress? Don’t you know that congress is made up almost wholly of trust lawyers and corporation attorneys?.. we Socialists propose that society in its collective capacity shall produce, not for profit, but in abundance to satisfy all human wants; that every man shall have the inalienable right to work, and receive the full equivalent of what he produces; that every man may stand fearlessly erect in the pride and majesty of his own manhood; that every man and every woman shall be economically free. We are not going to destroy private property. We are going to so establish private property that every worker may have all the private property necessary to house and keep him in comfort and satisfy all his physical wants.”


Really wish i could argue with any of that.

1 Like

While we’re at it, let’s stop pretending “liberal” is a synonym for “progressive” or “left”.

Around the world, liberal philosophy implies based on the individual, tolerant, etc. rather than society/collective. In some countries (including Canada and Britain), liberal means market-promoting, centrist or even wishy-washy. Liberal isn’t necessarily good.

This is why it’s good that Bernie proclaims himself a socialist (although he’s really a social demcrat), and AOC is proud to be endorsed by the DSA. Progressive politics will do better without muddy language.


Speaking as a leftist myself, and as a veteran of the failure of the New Left in the 1960s, due to its devolvement into general craziness, I think that Mr. Atcheson needs to think more about how the unattractive moral characteristics and intolerant righteousness, (so often crossing well into blatantly anti-democratic stalinism/fascism), which are characteristics so widely associated with the ‘liberal’ Left, are so ugly to so many people that only 26% of people want to be associated with the Left in any way.

Despite the fact that conditions are exactly right for the Left to rise to power, it is simply too institutionally stupid to take advantage of those conditions, and finds itself widely hated, with 3/4ths of the citizenry viewing it unfavorably.

Policy is another matter entirely. People may support the same policies as the Left, (polls report as many as 71% support policies like Medicare for All, for example), but they cringe, as I do, when they witness the Left’s ugly intolerance, and its rigid knee jerk Identity Politics and execrable Political Correctness.

The American Left is so in love with its own righteousness that it remains completely oblivious to the obvious fact that the overall attitude of intolerance and disrespect for fellow citizens that the Left projects makes it repulsively ugly to a vast majority of American citizens.

The Left is now spilling out paroxysms of mass mob hysteria supporting foreign migrants, and demonizing our own citizens whose lives have been devastated by mass immigration, because they apparently think they can ‘conquer’ American by fomenting racial animosities and hatred between citizens, despite the fact that such a large contingent of the Left’s support base are NOT citizens.

It appears that the Left wholeheartedly believes that a constituency of immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people are going to conquer and rule over the nation’s majority of Caucasian people.

Yea…well…please remember that I am speaking as a life-long Leftist. Please remember that only your friends will tell you if you have bad breath. (Your enemies will snigger behind your back, as your enemies now do).

“Identify the enemy” is among the most basic principles of all warfare and political struggle.

“The Right” is NOT, repeat NOT, the ‘enemy’. “The Right” is no more than an artificial political construct that has been fashioned from people’s ignorance and emotional human foibles, by our cunning and dangerous true ‘enemy’, The Syndicate of the Super Wealthy Elites that rule over us.

“The Right” has no unifying economic interests. In fact, most of “the Right” consists of people who are too uninformed (ignorant) and misinformed to understand that they are voting against their own economic interests.

Anyway…The Left is always so smugly pleased with itself, despite the fact that it is so incompetent that it can’t fashion a message to compete with Trump’s transparent lies, in order to appeal to the common sense, and better angels, of the nation’s majority yeomen folk, who are now so confused and bamboozled that they regard the ridiculous clown in the White House as a ‘great hero’.

When populism is allowed to rise on the Right, it only points to the shame of the Left’s abject failure.


We cannot survive (literally) two versions of the Republican party as our only choices

Wall Street Red or Wall Street Blue
You can vote for who ever you want
It’s a free country

1 Like

You are howling against the trusts, and the trusts are laughing at you. You keep on voting in the same old way, and the trusts will keep on getting what you produce.

In other words:
What’s the definition of Insanity?

Answer: It’s doing what the “Democrat” Party leadership wants you to do.

Until we break those chains, nothing will change.


Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

  • Frederick Douglass

Liberal and progressive are among many political words that have been misused so often they no longer have meaning. You just have to define your terms for a general audience. But Atcheson is right that the words have been manipulated to make people think popular ideas are unpopular.

I’ve come to think of myself as “progressive” as that word has been used in my Internet bubble in recent years, and “liberal” now means to me Democratic Party loyalists, the enemy of progressives.

Here in Common Dreams comments, we frequently have to say things like “actual left” to get across our meaning.

Once again, here is a helpful tool we could use to establish a common political language that has meaning over time. It uses separate scales for economic and social positions. The social positions range from authoritarian to libertarian (libertarian in the actual meaning, not the recent U.S. political party meaning). The corporate parties are easier to see through when you realize the interests of the 99% are in the libertarian half, and the 1% are in the authoritarian half. Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders were both far closer to the actual center than Trump or Clinton.


(Scroll to the bottom to see where they placed Sanders.)

A ≠ B

The fact that a lot of people misuse terms such that they no longer have clear meanings to those people, does not mean that the words have lost meaning to any except the semi-literate fools who slovenly misuse such terms.

The most simple way to correct this issue is to force people to use correct language or suffer being corrected whenever they misuse such terms. The best definition for the term “progressive” is to use the definition that the original founders of Progressivism applied. Most focus, with regard to American politics, would probably belong to Robert M. La Follette Sr., a republican governor of Wisconsin back in the late 1800s, member of congress and later a US Senator from 1906-1925, who ran as a candidate for President in 1924 as the candidate of his own Progressive party, won Wisconsin and 17% of the national vote. He was frequently called “arguably the most important and recognized leader of the opposition to the growing dominance of corporations over the Government,” and is remembered as a proponent of Progressivism and a vocal opponent of railroad trusts, bossism, World War I, and the League of Nations.

To the point, the early Progressives were focused on applying scientific reasoning to social and economic problems. Progressives believed that this allowed government to institute bureaucracies that could analyze data and then distribute materials to its constituents based on that data, thus informing their supporters and voters of what they needed to know to make intelligent decisions. It was hoped that this application of scientific principles and empiric evidence would lead to American government better able to serve the people’s needs by making governmental operations and services more efficient and rational.

Even in this greatly condensed description, it is still no bumper-sticker quote, but it does layout the stark differences between neoliberal market pimps for the donor class and Progressives.