Friday, December 21, 2012

Bruce Bartlett — How Democrats Became Liberal Republicans

The dirty secret is that Obama simply isn’t very liberal, nor is the Democratic Party any more. Certainly, the center of the party today is far to the right of where it was before 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected with a mission to move the party toward the right. It was widely believed by Democratic insiders that the nation had moved to the right during the Reagan era and that the Democratic Party had to do so as well or risk permanent loss of the White House. 
It is only the blind hatred Republicans had for Clinton that prevented them from seeing that he governed as a moderate conservative – balancing the budget, cutting the capital gains tax, promoting free trade, and abolishing welfare, among other things. And it is only because the political spectrum has shifted to the right that Republicans cannot see to what extent Obama and his party are walking in Clinton’s footsteps....I think that a lot of the Democratic Party’s rightward drift resulted from two factors. First is the continuing decline of organized labor from 24 percent of the labor force in 1973 to less than half that percentage in 2011. And the decline among private sector workers has been even more severe....
Secondly, the collapse of the Soviet Union essentially led to the collapse of support for socialism worldwide. I think voters bought the idea that the economist F.A. Hayek made during World War II that socialism impoverishes people and necessarily becomes totalitarian eventually. The disappearance of socialism as a viable political philosophy deprived liberals of their ideological anchor, causing liberalism itself to drift rightward with the tide.
There are other factors as well, such as the dependence of Democrats on campaign contributions from Wall Street, but I think these are the most important.
The Fiscal Times
Bruce Bartlett — How Democrats Became Liberal Republicans 
Bruce Bartlett

See also Jordan Fabian — Obama: More Moderate Republican Than Socialist | ABC News
President Barack Obama believes that if he were president 25 years ago, his economic policies would make him a moderate Republican.
During an interview with Noticias Univision 23, the network's Miami affiliate newscast, Obama pushed back against the accusation made in some corners of south Florida's Cuban-American and Venezuelan communities that he wants to instill a socialist economic system in the U.S. The president said he believes few actually believe that. 
"I don't know that there are a lot of Cubans or Venezuelans, Americans who believe that," Obama said. "The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican." [emphasis added]


David said...

The disappearance of socialism as a viable political philosophy deprived liberals of their ideological anchor, causing liberalism itself to drift rightward with the tide.

I tend to think liberals were always sort of embarrassed by socialism and have long tried to distance themselves from it. The dissolving of the Soviet system simply left the Western elites with no competition from another system. I don't think there was ever a real ideological commitment or even "anchoring" to socialism within the liberal establishment. I think the only reason they tried to do something for the poor in the '60's, for example, was because poverty was an embarrassment to the West that the Communist leaders could point to and exploit in the cold war. It's no accident that the first major domestic post-cold war initiative was "welfare reform." Poverty's not an embarrassment anymore, and we need not ever mention again, they seem to think. The large post war middle class and the rest of the New Deal is next on the agenda and the so-called liberals are leading the charge. I sort of miss the USSR.

David said...

I wish Obama would just declare himself a Republican. That way, maybe he could then "go to China" and do what actually needs to be done.

Salsabob said...

Much of the whine of Obama too far Right is a result of Obamacare (no public option or single payer). Now it crops up with the Fiscal Cliff, which was the band aid for the Summer 2011 debt ceiling stupidity. Not much can be done about Obamacare now - it is what it is. However, debt ceiling round 2 offers 'promise.' While it would be horrendous, the silver lining in a politically-induced US bankruptcy would be having those of the whiny Left finally waking up to what has Obama over-the-barrel and looking like a Rightee. Sometimes a nation needs to nearly destroy itself to wake the stupids up.