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The Irony of the Centrist-Progressive Debate

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/13/irony-centrist-progressive-debate


The irony of the progressive/centrist debate is, that while many argue progressives are far left of centrists, in actuality, many who are progressive politically, hold positions that are also central to what the majority of Americans desire.

Therefore, the argument is being made to divide us when we are quite in agreement.

You can be progressive while also being centrist with the majority.


Today’s “progressive ideas” only seem far-left because the corporate-compliant Democratic Party has skewed so far to the right.

To steal from Ambrose Bierce:

Progressive Ideas (n) - The centrist ideas of yesterday injected into the debates of today.


Where are Ambrose Bierce, Samuel Clemens, Will Rogers – and Walt Kelly – when we REALLY need them?


Indeed, progressivism has nothing to do with being right or left. Its all about making this a better world- progress. conservatives are all about going backwards to slavery and aristocracy under the guise of MAGA. Democrats are all about hand wringing.


The DNC in stating they are after the Republican vote are admitting they are Republicans.


Tinkering = erosion.

Look where tinkering got Obama–six years of McConnell recalcitrance.

If Amy and Pete and Joe (and the MSNBC barkers) want to believe that “working across the aisle” is SOOOO essential in 2021, why did it not work 2011-2017?


So long as ‘Moscow’ Mitch and the 'Poop-Lickens control the U.S. Senate NOTHING worthwhile will happen, no matter who is “our” Presidunce.


I hate the DNC and I hate almost all Republicans in office over my lifetime. However, I don’t hate the idea of going after a percentage of the Republican vote. Surveys have showed a significant fraction of Republican voters are open to the idea of Medicare for All, are sick of foreign wars that do nothing to benefit them but kill their sons and daughters (yeah, I wish they were concerned with people we kill too, but I’ll take what leverage I can get in stopping war), and are definitely sick of the trade deals that screw them over.

The confusion that the DNC has though - is that they don’t realize or don’t care than Bernie is the best candidate to appeal to Republican voters - any centrist that is just a Republican light doesn’t have nearly the same potential.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I wish Bernie would go back to his very reasonable stances on immigration (where he used to be more concerned with US workers), guns (where he used to believe in protection of gun owners and manufacturers from lawsuits for events they have no direct control over and for which government is responsible), and abortion (I know less about this issue as it applies to Bernie, but apparently he used to speak of abortion more often as something to be avoided).

For me, issues of health care, war, and environment are much more important than abortion, immigration, or guns. Of course I’d like intelligent solutions for the last three, but you need to be cautious about language if you want to pull in the potential Republican voters that are on our side for health care, war, and trade (less so for the environment, but maybe they’ll come along for that one).

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It all fine and dandy for the Democrats to go after Republican voters but not if it means adopting policies that appeal to the Republicans while dropping those that appeal to the progressives.

Do that and you are a Republican.


The centrist progressive debate arises from one d-party conundrum: They can not form a majority in the House or Senate without a lot of Repub Lite blue Dogs winning swing districts.

As such, there is actually a debate only in the sense of kabuki theater: The d-party only advocates for progressive positions in primaries, then shifts rightward in general elections except in solidly blue districts. In the remote chance that Bernie wins the nomination, many d-party congressional candidates will openly support Trump. Hence, @UncleFester’s Tweedledee and Tweedledum comparison plays out perfectly.


I specifically brought up guns, immigration, and abortion because I know certain positions (in fact the 2015 Bernie position on the first two at least - as I said, I don’t know his history of views on abortion) are going to annoy certain (not all) progressives. So I don’t have a binary litmus test as you seem to be suggesting. I just need to know the details - what are all the policies the politician is transparently and in detail telling us they support? If that person has the right positions on war, environment, health care, and trade and is an independent who can win (as can Bernie, though I realize he has to register as a Democrat for the election), great. If that person is a Republican, I guess I could vote for a Republican the first time in my life (outside of a small city council position where I liked the guy and all the issues I’ve mentioned don’t apply anyway). If they are a Democrat, that’s fine too. If we get RCV and they are third party, they get my first choice on the ballot.

But I disagree with progressives who are willing to write off a politician because a) they support commonsense gun reform, but not an everything and the kitchen sink regardless of whether it makes legal sense approach, b) they support a national guaranteed right to an abortion for the first so many weeks but support a medical need being required after that time, or c) they want controlled immigration that might even be similar to Canada and strict employer enforcement and perhaps even limits on people crossing illegally to obtain health care (European countries have different rules on this - some emergency cases are covered, some cases are not covered). I’m afraid quite a few posters here (maybe you) are willing to cut that person off in a binary litmus test on just one of these three issues. I’m definitely not and in fact think their chance of winning might be better by giving some Republicans or more independents ‘permission’ to vote for them.

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The centrists want to cut Medicare & Social Security.


Actually, there is not a “centrist-progressive debate.” If you look at the actual policies of the Democratic Party (not the rhetoric), the Democrats are a right-wing party. (The GOP is a far-right-wing party.) In other words, in the US, the “center” is between a right-wing party and a far-right wing party. If progressivism is on the left, representing the interests of the working people and the middle class, then in reality leftists have no representation in our political system. The Democrats have marketed themselves since FDR as the party of working people, women and minorities. Yet the Dems have not even remotely represented the interests of those groups since at least when the New Democrats (Bill Clinton and the DLC) came to power seeking more cozy relationships with Wall Street and entrenched monied interests. The “debate” is really about the gulf between the progressive marketing of the Democratic Party (with its Media) and its right-wing reality. Actual progressives (who have yet to figure out the scam) seek to make the Dems live up to thier marketing. It won’t work as the Democratic Party is just as committed to serving the ruling class as the Republican Party is.


There’s nothing even vaguely moderate about what is called “centrist.” There is also nothing particularly central about it.


The New Democrats like Obama and the Clintons are the old Republicans. Obama thought a senile Reagan had all the new ideas. He and Biden were quite willing to work with Republicans. As long as that meant giving the Republicans everything they wanted. For Democrats to be willing to cut SS after Reagan partially destroyed it by increasing the payments for lower income people and making the benefits taxable was and is disgusting. Now with the proportional delegate rule in a 3 or more candidate race a majority can’t be had. This means the 800 super delegates will decide the nominee on the 2nd vote. 30 of them are progressive and the rest are Clintonistas or Obamamanians. What realistic chance does Bernie have even if he wins a plurality? His only chance was to parlay with Warren on the first ballot. But now she has been wounded by Hillary’s advice to feminize the race by going after Bernie as thought he were Trump? Maybe the idea was to wound both of them.

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That isn’t my definition of a moderate. Moderate people work for people not Big Industries. They don’t invest in wars either.

For me the question is “which” Republican voters the Democrats want to court. If they are going after moderate Republicans of the upper-middle class, I’m not in favor of it whatsoever as that is what Clinton did and look where it got us. But those malcontents who feel that the system is screwing them, the folks of the middle class and down, those folks are more realistic and more likely to support a socialist agenda once they’ve been educated about it since the current system isn’t working for them and they damn well know it and they don’t care what the investor class would have to say about it. A just society would go a long ways towards curing the racism that trump has unleashed as I firmly believe a chief component of racism really boils down to a fight for limited resources. If we had a healthier society overall with a higher Total Quality of Living index, there would be a lot less hate running about.

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Thoughtful and well-stated response.

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