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Fear and Loathing in American Politics: the Future of the Sane Center

By Lauren Wynn

On a return trip from visiting my dad for Father’s Day, I was scrolling through Twitter — partly because I needed a distraction from my husband’s driving, which terrifies me — but mostly because it is a regular part of my morning routine. Somewhere around Dumfrees, Virginia, I came across a Tweet storm by conservative commentator and author Steve Deace that piqued my interest and, frankly, formed the basis for this article. In it, Steve was bemoaning the fact that conservative activism often fails and explained why he believes that to be so.

Steve Deace Tweetstorm

It occurred to me that many of his assertions could be equally applied to both sides of the aisle — right and left, Republican and Democrat were interchangeable. Crazy concept, huh? If everyone is being this reactionary – which conversations with and observations of both sides indicate might be true – then is a middle ground even possible?

During the 2016 Presidential election, deep fissures appeared in both the Democrat and Republican parties. The Democrats were divided between a far-left candidate in Bernie Sanders and a more traditional Democrat in Hillary Clinton. Likewise, Republicans were divided among far-right candidates, traditional Republicans and a complete outlier — Donald Trump.

There were only two unifying themes throughout the election – fear and loathing; fear of what the other side would do if we didn’t elect someone with the proper letter beside his or her name and loathing of the other side’s candidate.

In 2016, Pew reported that 45 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats felt that the other party’s policies posed a threat to the nation. The New York Times reports:

The fear of what harm the other party could cause appears to be a major motivator behind party affiliation. “It’s at least as much what I don’t like about the other side as what I like about my own party,” said Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center.

The article goes on to say that even independents seemed to be guided by fear,:

Independents, who outnumber members of either party and yet often lean toward one or the other, are just as guided by fear. More than half who lean toward either party say a major reason for their preference is the damage the other party could cause. Only about a third reported being attracted by the good that could come from the policies of the party toward which they lean.

Fear as a motivator is almost never a good thing. Fear clouds judgment, leads to impulsive decisions, causes unhealthy suspicion and worry, and can lead to the misperception of risks – giving them greater weight than they actually carry.

These fears, however, seem to be driving the left and right further apart and magnifying the loathing that each seems to hold for the other. The election did little to unify either party. Sanders began his own political action organization called Our Revolution to help further the progressive agenda and conservative groups like The New Conservative Movement, sought to reclaim conservatism from the party that hijacked it in order to elect Trump.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the only unity or agreement that spans the chasm between left and right seems to be a shared loathing for Donald Trump. This cross-section includes Democrats, Never Trumpers, disenchanted moderates, conservatives and even libertarians. It is this odd consortium of strange bedfellows that has given rise to, perhaps, the best thing to come from the election of Donald Trump: a call for the renaissance of the Sane Center.

Moderatism seemed to have all but disappeared over the past several decades with progressivism’s constant march to the left and conservatism’s to the right, but following the election, people from both sides began discussing a path forward that would help heal the gaping wound of division in our country. Morton Keller,  a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University, said this in an article in The Atlantic:

“Beyond the deprived Deplorables of the Midwest and the ideologues of the House Republican Freedom Caucus, or the take-no-prisoners left liberals of New York, California, and the college towns, there is a larger, conflicted, concerned plurality hungry for a politics and government that is less polarized and more effective.  The party that is first to figure out how to appeal to the muddled middle without alienating its convinced core is the party that is most likely to flourish in the future.”

The question is, can either party see its way clear to pull this off? Magic 8 Ball says, “highly unlikely.” Perhaps it’s time for a new direction. Will it be a new party that peels off the center left and right? Will grassroots projects like Stand Up Republic or The Centrist Project gain traction and swell the independent ranks? While it’s too soon to tell, one thing is certain: movements need leadership and they need a rallying cry. We’ve seen the overwhelming power of a charismatic figure with a simple mantra.

What will that look like for the Sane Center? Who will be the face of this new movement? What will be their cry? All of these things remain to be seen, but they will not happen without the committed involvement of everyday people who are sick and tired of polarized politics. It’s time for the Sane Center to come off the bench and stake a claim for our country. America’s future depends on it.

Photo via Good Free Photos.

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About L Wynn (12 Articles)
Former grassroots state lead for the Evan McMullin campaign, Wynn, now a resident of Washington, DC, is an avid student of politics and a freelance writer and blogger on a variety of topics. Contributor to @eatprayvote

20 Comments on Fear and Loathing in American Politics: the Future of the Sane Center

  1. Hmmm…Fear and loathing? Certainly, and given the respective loyalties of those involved, rightly so. Republican vs. Democrat? Not so much or, I think more accurately, not so much from the Right.

    I constantly hear the leftists attacking Republicans but I rarely hear the Right attacking Democrats. We tend to couch it all in “liberal,” “progressive,” and “socialist.” We – the Right – seem, if one goes by the nomenclature used in rhetoric, much more concerned with actual ideology, allegiance, and agenda than political party. Indeed! Look at the non-schism of the GOP, which changed little in the matter of voting vs. the real schism in the Democrats that did and will continue to divide them when it seems to count most.

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    • I’ll have to respectfully disagree. I have heard firsthand the vitriol coming from some on the right. It’s disingenuous at best to suggest that it doesn’t exist.

      Liked by 3 people

      • We are failing to communicate. I do not deny the vitriol at all. I deny that the Right couches most of it in terms of Republican and Democrat. While the Left does seem to rant against “Republicans,” the right seems to rant about “Liberals.”

        That may seem a purely cosmetic thing but I think it’s actually much more significant than most realize.

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      • Noted. Will have to chew on the significance for a bit, but I see your point.

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    • Not sure how you could have missed it, but we all have our bubbles. I don’t see any discernable difference in the level of “attacking” from any sides – left, right or centrist. It depends on the type of person, not where they happen to stand on the spectrum.

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  2. Very well-written and on point! We are on the same page and definitely like-minded on this issue. Thank you for writing this!♡

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  3. I understand your point and I would welcome more civil discourse in our politics, but that ship has sailed. Why? Fear.

    Let’s take a look at #GA06. Over 98% of the commercials run against Ossoff featured Nancy Pelosi. Between the election and the runoff $4.6 million dollars in television ads were purchased featuring her. When you say fear and loathing shouldn’t be a part of politics, my goodness its the only thing Republicans KNOW! FEAR works! To be fair as a Democrat who grew up Republican and saw the party drift away from who I was, I can without a shadow of doubt that Democrats NEED more fear of Republicans. Every 2 years, the Pelosi boogey woman gets brought out, before that it was Hillary by Republican operatives and every 2 years Republicans march to the polls and vote Republican irregardless of who sits on the other side.

    To be fair – on average, Democrats vote the same straight party way as Republicans, but Democratic voters need to FEEL like they are voting for the best candidate. Fear motivates Republicans to vote, Democrats don’t fear Republicans so they have to WANT to vote. This depresses turnout because “Good Enough” is the same as saying “Republicans and Democrats are the same so I’m staying home.” This hits Democrats especially hard. This in-turn typically will moderate Democratics views in the hopes of gaining Republicans supporters because on-average Democratic voters don’t fear Republican governments. Democrats might despise Republican Congress Critters but ultimately they never felt like they were in jeopardy. Juxtapose this to “Obama’s coming for our guns”, “Pelosi and the Gay Agenda are coming into our Schools”, “Trans people are everywhere so we have to stop them” that is pervasive in Republican discourse and policy.

    However, we just crossed the Rubicon in this election and things are about to get a whole lot worse. Why has the Resistance Movement sprouted up? FEAR! Fear an unbalanced man with nuke codes, an unscrupulous Majority Leader who cares only for power, and a Speak of the House who would love to take away the very programs he benefited from growing up. Prior to 2016, Democratic electorate fear was tamped down. Obama was in office for 8 years so Republicans couldn’t do TOO much harm. Before that Pelosi took over in 2006 so GWB couldn’t create too many problems. Prior to 2006, there was at least of modicum of sensibility in the Republican leadership. Now, an ideologue, a ruthless efficient manipulator, and a baffoon who doesn’t care and will sign anything run the show. That’s sparking fear. The FEAR is growing in the Democratic electorate and this will motivate turnout in 2018. What do most people FEAR the most, the health of themselves and their family. That’s why the ACHA is so VERY dangerous for the Republican Party and they don’t realize it. They are realizing that fear in a lot of people right now and fear motivates people to vote.

    So in conclusion, this is about to get a lot worse and sanity is about to go right out the window. We’re about to have two parties that absolutely fear each other instead of just one. To be fair, I have no idea what the result of that will be, but we’re going to find out.

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  4. @Grant_Case, I never said fear and loathing shouldn’t be part of politics.What I said was, basically, that it’s a bad way to make important decisions regarding our country’s future. I can tell you from conversations with my liberal friends that they are TERRIFIED of Republicans — because of their stand on abortion, healthcare, and the environment. This isn’t new either, but it is much stronger now that the R’s have a majority and an unhinged POTUS at the helm. At the end of the day, you and I aren’t that far apart on how we see this.

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  5. I’m generally a fan of a “Sane Center.” It depends on what is meant by that. Such things are always relative, specifically in terms of left vs right. Context is everything.

    I’m often reminded of the origins of the left-right divide. The right side has for millennia been associated with power and authority, tradition and the status quo. That is why Jesus was described as sitting to the right of God. And that is why, under the French monarchy, aristocrats and clergy supporting the monarchy sat on the right side of the assembly. Even once the king was deposed, the French assembly maintained this seating with the most radical revolutionaries sitting to the left.

    About the French Revolution, it’s interesting to compare it to the American Revolution. Some of the American founders gave primary credit to Thomas Paine for the American Revolution or at least in lending much inspiration toward its success. Paine was as radical as they come, in many ways far to the left of present Democrats (e.g., basic income).

    Yet guess where he sat as an honorary member of the French assembly. He sat on the right side with his moderate allies, as under that context he was a moderate who argued for not beheading the king and for passing a democratic constitution, the whole issue of a democratic rule of law and democratic procedure. He was more radically liberal than were the radical revolutionaries, but this radical liberalism is precisely what made him moderate. It was those radical or rather reactionary revolutionaries, when they gained control, who sentenced Paine to death and he narrowly escaped that fate.

    As always, the issues is to the right or left of what? Paine was trying to hold the “Sane Center” in an insane world. Even the American Revolution was far more violent and bloody than is typically acknowledged. It was a time when wealth and power ruled brutally and it was no easy task for the oppressed to stand up to that injustice, both on the right and the left. Interestingly, during such revolutions, aristocrats and plutocrats are found on both sides of the fight. The French Revolution was initiated with the help of many aristocrats and clergy who were tired of oppressive monarchy. And the same was true of the American Revolution.

    Paine was an Anti-Federalist, the ideological group that supported democracy as opposed to centralized power. The Anti-Federalists considered themselves to be the real Federalists because they actually wanted a Confederation of states, as was agreed upon under the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (the second constitution, ironically, was unconstitutional and passed unconstitutionally according to the first constitution). Because of the second constitution, most US citizens lost power and representation with only a few percentage having the right to either vote or run for office. When the revolution continued under the new government by those demanding the democracy they had fought for, the aristocrat Washington put an army together and violently put down those dreams of democracy.

    The US isn’t a country that was founded on a “Sane Center.” That isn’t the kind of country it is. But it is a country that was inspired by democracy and genuine democracy is as radical today as it was in Paine’s lifetime. As Jimmy Carter has observed, the US is a banana republic and was that way before Trump came to power. Research has confirmed this in showing that we don’t have a functioning representative government, as politicians most of the time do what the wealthy want them to do and not what the middle-to-lower classes want them to do (this was analyzed in comparing public policy and public opinion). Still, we are an aspiring democracy and such aspirations shouldn’t be dismissed.

    That is the context. And that leads me to the specifics of this article. It was written that,

    “During the 2016 Presidential election, deep fissures appeared in both the Democrat and Republican parties. The Democrats were divided between a far-left candidate in Bernie Sanders and a more traditional Democrat in Hillary Clinton. Likewise, Republicans were divided among far-right candidates, traditional Republicans and a complete outlier — Donald Trump.”

    Let me first question the claim about what is traditional. What is the comparison being made? Bernie Sanders positions are well within the range of standard policies of FDR’s New Deal. Some consider FDR to be a traditional Democrat and, if so, it should be noted that Clinton’s positions make it clear that she is to the right of FDR.

    We also know that the majority of Americans presently agree with many of Sanders’ positions, as polling and surveys show that most Americans are to the left of both main political parties. So, in what sense is Sanders a “far-left candidate?” Sure, he is to the left of the political center in Washington and in corporate media. But the political center in Washington and in corporate media is to the right of the American public. If we are to use the American public as the measure of the center, then that would mean Sanders is a centrist and all the major candidates are to the right of that center.

    There is more than one ‘center’ to choose from. It depends on which part of society one identifies with. As someone who agrees with majority public opinion on many issues, I personally prefer to use the known data about public opinion as the defining standard of the political center. But I realize others would prefer a different center, as they don’t want a “government of the people, for the people and by the people.” I do want such a government, as did Paine, but also as did Republicans once as those words were spoken by the first Republican president.

    That gets us to confusion of what goes for traditional in the GOP. As one scholar made clear, the Republican Party has always swung between the extremes of populism and plutocracy, somehow melding the two poles at the moment with Trump. Anyway, it’s hard to imagine present Republicans doing something as radical as abolishing slavery like Lincoln, calling out the Military-Industrial Complex like Eisenhower, or simply creating the EPA like Nixon (it’s amazing how liberal Nixon looks these days, more liberal than many Democrats right now).

    It hasn’t just been the GOP pushing right for decades. The Clinton New Democrats sought to triangulate by also pushing right. This is how both parties became uncentered or rather created their own center, quite in opposition to the silenced majority. Where is the sanity in this. Why do we allow corporatist parties and pundits to tell us what is the sane center? Are they really in the moral position to be telling anyone much of anything?

    “Moderatism seemed to have all but disappeared over the past several decades with progressivism’s constant march to the left and conservatism’s to the right, but following the election, people from both sides began discussing a path forward that would help heal the gaping wound of division in our country.”

    In that light, what is moderatism? That is to say, what is being moderated between? Obviously, what goes for moderation in ‘mainstream’ politics isn’t moderating toward the center of public opinion, i.e., eligible voters. When both parties are immoderate, when the corporate mainstream media is immoderate, when too many public intellectuals are immoderate, how are the disempowered and sometimes overtly disenfranchised public supposed to seek out moderation? Does ‘moderate’ have any meaning when the most publicly centrist and most popular
    candidate in the country, Bernie Sanders, is called a radical left-winger by the minority in the comfortable classes?

    This has a way of making many average Americans start feeling a bit radical. Maybe at times like these radicalism is the last refuge of the “Sane Center.”

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    • “Bernie Sanders positions are well within the range of standard policies of FDR’s New Deal.”

      Incorrect. FDR and the New Deal is substantially to the right of the current system. Social Security was initially designed to pay out less than it does now, apply to far fewer people and FDR even intended to phase it out after the economy fully recovered.

      Put those facts together with a number of other positions – especially social – and no. there isnt an elected Demcorat in Washington that is to the right of FDR, or even in the same general ideological zone – and that’s a good thing.

      “We also know that the majority of Americans presently agree with many of Sanders’ positions, as polling and surveys show that most Americans are to the left of both main political parties.”

      Also incorrect. The agreement with Sanders is vague, like the idea of increasing taxes on the wealthy. The spectrum comes into play when you see how much people would be comfortable raising those taxes, and who they’d be applied to – obviously with more leftist types wanting more, and a spectrum on over to the center-right.

      There is a rather dramatic difference between the center, left and far left. It only looks the way you are mistakenly trying to characterize it with when you are looking at things as if they are simple binaries, or otherwise oversimplifying.

      “There is more than one ‘center’ to choose from. It depends on which part of society one identifies with.”

      The center / centrist means those who stand in the central area of a political spectrum – in a country, not subsections of society.

      Calling Bernie Sanders a centrist is a complete and utter joke. He wouldn’t even call himself that, and he’s a politician.

      If he were a centrist, then the GOP would win virtually no races and the Democrats and something in the vein of the Green Party would be the two major parties.

      If someone like him was in the center, then the Democratic Party would have been growing dramatically since it has pushed out nearly all moderates, whiile the progressive caucus has is now the second larges caucus in the party, and growing all at the same time that losing actual centrist and moderate voters correlates with Dems losing badly all over the country, against an eminently beatable Republican Party that wouldn’t even exist if what you’re saying made even a little bit of sense.

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      • Once again, it depends on context.

        FDR New Deal Democrats were to the left of the Democrats before them. Now, in many ways (if we are to be honest), Clinton New Democrats are to the right of that with corporatist neoliberalism along with tough-on-crime and war hawk neoconservatism. But I’ve noted before that a moderate form of corporatism was promoted by FDR, although it was more social democratic than neoliberal.

        Your accusations of vagueness seem hilarious.

        The triangulation of the Clinton New Democrats was always intentionally vague in order to obscure its real nature. You can call that moderate if it makes you happy, but most Americans see it as bullshit. The fact of the matter is the majority agrees with Sanders and disagrees with Clinton. That majority isn’t a subsection. Or if you consider it to be a subsection, then you obviously don’t care about democracy.

        Maybe you should ask Jimmy Carter. He could explain to you why the US is now a banana republic. But no one can force you to acknowledge what you don’t want to know. Just realize that willful ignorance is not a pathway toward moderation and a “Sane Center.”

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      • Context is precisely where you go wrong – the context is today’s political spectrum in the United States, where Bernie Sanders is far left, and FDR wouldn’t even be a Democrat, with so many of his views being to the right of where Democrats stand.

        You trying to change the subject, and just ignoring what I said without responding, doesn’t support your argument in any way.

        Unlike you, I stand in the center. You’re just playing the same game so many other blind partisan ideologues try to play when attacking centrists – pretend we don’t exist, pretend we aren’t who we say we are, pretend the center isn’t really the center – same partisan BS – must be a day ending in ‘y’.

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      • You are free to have your opinion. But most Americans, being to the left of you, disagree with you. Your centrism, whatever it might mean, is not in the center of majority public opinion. And I say that as the center has been continuously shifting further left over recent decades.

        You can have your ‘center’ that is the middle of the political establishment and corporate media. If that is the limit of your understanding of a political spectrum, your knowledge and imagination is severely constrained. Sure, a minority of Americans agree with you about this center, for whatever that is worth.

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      • “But most Americans, being to the left of you, disagree with you.”

        You have yet to back that assertion up with any sort of data. A whole section of our new site will be focused on policy ideas that represent the center you pretend we don’t represent, focusing on anti-corruption, transparency, healthcare, election reform, education and other major issues – all aligned with where centrists and moderates stand in polls.

        The center isn’t defined by the media or some arbitrary midpoint between the two major parties – it’s defined by the populace.

        How about you stop dancing and putting your money where your mouth has been – point out where a number of political stances we’ve expressed show us to be away from the center.

        I look forward to your response.

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      • Data? You are the one claiming to represent the center of the 326 million Americans. I agree with the majority on many issues. And the majority agrees with Sanders on many issues. But I’m not pretending to represent the whole country. I would consider that to be rather arrogant.

        This isn’t hard to figure out. I assume you are capable of looking at data. Most Americans agree with Sanders that there should be protection of gun rights and better gun control, that Roe vs Wade shouldn’t be overturned but that there should be minimal limitations, that we need healthcare for all Americans with policies further to the left than Obamacare, that we need progressive taxation with much higher tax rates for the wealth and corporations, and on and on.

        These positions are far to the left of what the Democratic establishment is willing to support. A pharmaceutical lobbyist was made the head of the California Democrats, second in power only to the DNC, and he just shot down single payer which has majority support in California and across the country. This isn’t surprising for anyone who knows the data and knows history. One study found that politicians in both parties falsely believed the American public, including their own constituents were more conservative than they were.

        I can’t force this knowledge onto you. But it’s publicly available and easy to find, if you happen to care. I’m not dancing around anything. Your the one who refuses to put your cards on the table with your vague, amorphous claims of ‘centrism’.

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      • “Most Americans agree with Sanders that there should be protection of gun rights and better gun control, that Roe vs Wade shouldn’t be overturned but that there should be minimal limitations, that we need healthcare for all Americans with policies further to the left than Obamacare, that we need progressive taxation with much higher tax rates for the wealth and corporations, and on and on.

        These positions are far to the left of what the Democratic establishment is willing to support.”

        Yet again you’re trying to move the goalposts – not taking about the Dem establishment, but even with that, you’re still wrong.

        Sanders’ gun position is to the right of most Dems.

        Guns are a perfect example of how Dems are to the left of the American people.

        Roughly 25% of people want to band the sale of handguns – guess who the vast majority of those people are? Democrats.

        Nearly no Democrats support overturning Roe. Same as other issues, most of those who think there should be no restrictions at all on abortions – Democrats.

        Healthcare is the same. While a supermajority supports the general idea of universal healthcare, the left and center diverge on details. Most of the support for single payer… Democrats, with the rest of the spectrum mostly in line with something akin to the Public Option (which, you can get to over 75% support, if you mention the choice it adds – the main selling point – Single payer is stuck around 50% in the best polls).

        As for taxes – perhaps the best illustration of how Sanders is off the leftist deep end as far as most of the country is concerned is the fact that most of his own supporters aren’t even willing to accept the increase in taxes that Sanders’ plans would cause:

        https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/4/14/11421744/bernie-sanders-tax-revolution

        If he can’t even convince his own supporters to pay for the tax increases he is pushing for, then you’re really just nowhere near the vicinity of reality in thinking he’s in line with the general populace on that subject. As I said above – the agreement is in vaguely stating that taxes on the wealthy should go up, not in support of the huge tax increases on Sanders’ agenda, which – I might add – didn’t even add up to pay for all of the spending programs he said those already huge tax increases would pay for… so they’d have to be even bigger.

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      • “Yet again you’re trying to move the goalposts – not taking about the Dem establishment, but even with that, you’re still wrong.”

        What does that even mean? The Democratic establishment control the Democratic Party and determine what gets passed into legislation. That is what parties are about. Who controls the party defines the party.

        “Sanders’ gun position is to the right of most Dems.”

        Sanders defended the right of gun manufacturers to not be held liable, something Clinton attacked him about. His position was common sense and in line with the American public. Either guns are legal or not. It does no good to blame companies that are following the law in selling a legal product.

        Like most Americans, Sanders BOTH supports gun rights AND gun control, the first part being to the right of Democrats and the second part being to the left of Republicans. So? That is my point, as the two main parties are out of alignment with most Americans. Anyway, how does that make Sanders an extremist?

        “Guns are a perfect example of how Dems are to the left of the American people. Roughly 25% of people want to band the sale of handguns – guess who the vast majority of those people are? Democrats.”

        Look at a recent CNN/ORC poll:

        http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2016/images/06/20/cnn_orc_poll_june_20.pdf

        From 2011 to 2016, 54-62% favored “A ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault guns, such as the AK-4,” 53-62% favored “A ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition clips, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before they need to be reloaded,” 87-92% favored “Preventing certain people, such as convicted felons or people with mental health problems, from owning guns,” 85% favored “Preventing people who are on the U.S. government’s Terrorist Watchlist or no-fly list from owning guns,” and 9-13% favored “Preventing all Americans from owning guns.”

        So, the vast majority of Americans do support gun bans. What they disagree about is which gun bans they prefer. But most Americans, including most Democrats, are against total gun bans. Besides bans, gun control in general remains popularly supported. Even most NRA members and most gun owners support gun control (by the way, liberals have fairly high gun ownership and guns in household). More interesting, the majority of Republicans supported Obama’s gun control initiatives.

        http://time.com/4173116/gun-control-barack-obama-polls/

        “A CNN/ORC poll shows that 67% of Americans are in favor a series of executive actions Obama proposed earlier this week, while 32% are opposed. Obama will expand background checks in an effort to reduce gun violence, while making the process more efficient. […] Support for the president crossed party lines, with Democrats (85%), independents (65%) and Republicans (51%) in favor of the measures. Some 57% of gun owners are also in favor.”

        Americans are a lot less divided than they get portrayed. Consider this Pew poll:

        http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/22/key-takeaways-on-americans-views-of-guns-and-gun-ownership/

        A majority of gun owners and a majority of non-gun owners agreed in their support of banning gun sales to the mentally ill, expanded background checks on gun sales, barring gun purchases by people on federal no-fly or watch lists, and creation of a federal database to track gun sales. Almost half of gun owners also back banning assault-weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

        http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/views-on-gun-policy/

        “About nine-in-ten Americans (89%) favor preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns. Nearly as many favor requiring background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows (84%) and barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists (83%). Roughly two-thirds or more strongly favor all of these proposals.

        “Substantial majorities also favor creating a federal government database to track all gun sales (71%), banning assault-style weapons (68%), and banning high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition (65%).”

        It depends on the specific issue. But gun control in general is strongly supported by Democrats and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners. The main public debate is not about whether or not to have gun control but what kind.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/americans-gun-control-poll-orlando_us_5772b6f1e4b0352fed3e0402

        “Respondents are largely united in support of specific measures that restrict access to firearms.

        “A vast majority of voters polled — 92 percent, according to the CNN/ORC poll — favor background checks for anyone attempting to purchase a gun. Eighty-nine percent of respondents in a CBS poll said they did as well.

        “Nearly 9 in 10 voters support a law preventing individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms, according to both CNN/ORC and YouGov. The CNN/ORC poll also shows that almost 9 in 10 voters favor preventing people with mental health problems and convicted felons from owning guns.

        “A key takeaway: Question phrasing matters. The term “gun control” seems to be a politicized phrase that encourages a partisan response. Yet when polls ask about precise measures, Americans show overwhelming support for certain restrictions.

        “Most Americans polled also support other gun control measures, though to a lesser extent. About 6 in 10 respondents support a ban on the sale of assault weapons, according to the YouGov poll and a new NBC/SurveyMonkey poll released Tuesday morning. And a Morning Consult poll shows that more than three-quarters of voters support creating a national database with information about each gun sale.”

        The wording part is important. Most Americans don’t identify as liberals, even as most Americans support many specific liberal positions and policies. Beyond wording, this has to do with identity and perception. Most Americans are simultaneously symbolic conservatives and operational liberals. But in politics, symbolic politics is powerful and easily manipulated (e.g., wording). That is always the problem with mainstream polls that don’t follow careful social science methodology and so have a hard time getting at underlying ideology.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/wirthlin-effect-symbolic-conservatism/

        “Nearly no Democrats support overturning Roe. Same as other issues, most of those who think there should be no restrictions at all on abortions – Democrats.”

        What is your point? Most Democrats, like most Americans, don’t support overturning Roe vs Wade. Pro-choice is now majority public opinion. As for no restrictions, very few Democrats are in favor of that. Pointing to a small percentage of Democrats isn’t all that helpful. Most Democrats, like most Americans, do support minimal restrictions. Your trying to spin the data is dishonest.

        “Healthcare is the same. While a supermajority supports the general idea of universal healthcare, the left and center diverge on details. Most of the support for single payer… Democrats, with the rest of the spectrum mostly in line with something akin to the Public Option (which, you can get to over 75% support, if you mention the choice it adds – the main selling point – Single payer is stuck around 50% in the best polls).”

        Once again, most Americans and most Democrats agree in supporting some variety of healthcare reform to the left of the Republican-originated Obamacare. If the American public wanted Republican healthcare, they wouldn’t have voted for Obama. The point is that the majority of Americans want healthcare reform that goes much further, specifically a majority that wants government to ensure all Americans get healthcare. Sure, there is debate about specific proposals and the details of issues, but the support remains broad.

        “As for taxes – perhaps the best illustration of how Sanders is off the leftist deep end as far as most of the country is concerned is the fact that most of his own supporters aren’t even willing to accept the increase in taxes that Sanders’ plans would cause”

        Are you trying to be dishonest or do you not understand? Sanders’ tax plan is progressive. As with most Americans, Sanders proposes that the wealthy and big biz pay higher taxes. Sure, it’s true that most Sanders’ supporters aren’t among the super rich nor do they own a big biz, but then again that is true for the majority of Americans that also support progressive taxation. This is simply the kind of progressive tax that was in place for decades earlier last century. It’s what funded the New Deal, rebuilding US infrastructure, funding education, subsidizing housing, etc.

        Besides, the issue isn’t just funding. The US wastes tremendous amounts of money on healthcare. There are countries with better healthcare and with better health results that do so while paying less. Even worse, the US government is constantly giving away large swaths of wealth, such as selling natural resources from public land for below market prices which is just another form of corporate subsidy. Plus, there are the straightforward subsidies that go to various corporations, some of the largest being big ag. And that doesn’t even consider the wasteful spending we throw at the military-industrial complex. We don’t lack wealth. We could pay for all that Sanders proposes without raising taxes at all, if we were willing to corporations off from the government teat.

        “As I said above – the agreement is in vaguely stating that taxes on the wealthy should go up, not in support of the huge tax increases on Sanders’ agenda, which – I might add – didn’t even add up to pay for all of the spending programs he said those already huge tax increases would pay for… so they’d have to be even bigger.”

        Sanders’ tax plan was more detailed than that of Clinton’s. It was also far more popular.

        http://www.politicususa.com/2016/03/21/poll-shows-bernie-sanders-tax-plan-favorite-2016-taxpayers.html

        “A new WalletHub/Survey Monkey poll of 2016 taxpayers found that Bernie Sanders has the most popular tax plan of all the presidential candidates in both parties.

        “Of those who picked a favorite candidate tax plan (34.1% had no idea), Bernie Sanders was easily the most favored. The Sanders tax plan was supported by 26.3% of respondents. Hillary Clinton’s tax plan was second at 13%. Donald Trump was third at 11.8%. Ted Cruz was fourth at 7.5%, and John Kasich was fifth at 4.7%.

        “When the results are combined, Democrats have a roughly ten-point edge on the Republican candidates on taxes. The issue for Republicans is two-fold. Republican presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are running on abolishing the IRS, but 86% of respondents to the survey believe that the IRS is necessary. By a margin of 58.6% to 41.4% taxpayers believe that their tax rates are too high.

        “The message from this survey is that taxpayers prefer tax plans that would raise taxes on the wealthy while cutting them for middle and lower-income individuals and families. Tax cuts for the wealthy are not popular. Every Republican presidential candidate is proposing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest individuals. The popularity of the Sanders tax plan, which is the harshest of any plan on the wealthy and corporations, suggests that the pain of economic collapse and subsequent Wall Street bailout still resonates with taxpayers.

        “Taxpayers feel like they got the shaft in the Great Recession, and they are looking for a president that will make the wealthiest Americans and big business pay their fair share.

        “The Sanders tax plan has been criticized by both his Democratic opponent and Republicans, but it is also by far the most popular plan with taxpayers.”

        https://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/21/tax-plan-sanders-beats-both-clinton-and-trump-double-digits

        “With the most progressive tax policy of any candidate, Sanders would dramatically increase taxes for the very wealthy and high-income earners (as well as moderate increases for the middle- and upper-middle classes) in order to pay for key planks of his social agenda including tuition-free public college, a Medicare for All healthcare program, massive infrastructure spending, and paid family leave for all workers.

        “According to recent analysis (pdf) by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, an implemented Sanders’ tax plan would generate more than $15 trillion in revenue over its first ten years.

        “Len Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center, told Bloomberg News that not only is the Sanders plan the most ambitious among the 2016 candidates, it is also the most detailed. Compared to Clinton’s more “incremental” approach to taxation and social change, said Burman, “Bernie Sanders clearly wants to change things radically. There’s a very, very clear choice.””

        Like

  6. If Bernie Sanders is a radical crazy left-winger, then so must be a large part of the American population.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/senator-bernie-sanders-policy-platform-presidential-campaign/

    https://extranewsfeed.com/bernie-sanders-still-most-popular-politician-in-america-a9cbcdb4b9b5

    “For the third time in a row, a poll has had Bernie’s favorability rating higher than every other politician mentioned in the poll.

    “After the entire Democratic Party machine, along with the corporate media, put all of their energy in the primaries to smear him, call him and his supporters sexist and racist, he is still the most popular politician in America. They must really like this guy.

    “So if Bernie remains to be the most popular politician despite all of the establishment’s efforts, they would try to appeal to his supporters, and stop smearing him, right?”

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/329404-poll-bernie-sanders-countrys-most-popular-active-politician

    “Sanders is viewed favorably by 57 percent of registered voters, according to data from a Harvard-Harris survey provided exclusively to The Hill. Sanders is the only person in a field of 16 Trump administration officials or congressional leaders included in the survey who is viewed favorably by a majority of those polled. […]

    “Besides Republicans, though, Sanders is popular among broad swaths of the registered voting population. […]

    “Among registered voters, fifty-eight percent of women view Sanders favorably, as do 55 percent of men. He is most popular among people aged 18 to 34, who give him a 62 percent approval rating. Sanders also has majority support among those over the age of 50.

    “While Sanders struggled during his Democratic primary challenge against Clinton in states with large African-American voting populations, he is viewed favorably by 73 percent of black registered voters.

    “That’s better than Hispanics, at 68 percent favorable, Asian-Americans, at 62 percent favorable, and whites, at 52 percent favorable.

    “Sanders is viewed favorably by 80 percent of registered Democrats, even though he has steadfastly refused to join the party whose presidential nominee he campaigned for.”

    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/poll-record-number-americans-say-government-should-do-more-n749766

    “A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll finds 57 percent of the public saying that the government should do more to solve problems and meet the needs of Americans, versus 39 percent who said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

    “That’s the highest share yearning for a more active government since the poll began asking voters about the role of government in 1995. And it’s a significant shift even since 2015, when 50 percent said that the government should do more while 46 percent complained that it was too active.

    “The shift also comes after a political campaign that saw party orthodoxy upended on both sides of the aisle.

    “As the Republican presidential nominee last year, Donald Trump defied the traditional GOP promise of federal belt-tightening, defending government programs like Social Security and Medicaid and pledging a massive infrastructure plan. Candidate Bernie Sanders won unexpected momentum during the Democratic primary by trumpeting his support for a single-payer health care plan, expanded Social Security and tuition-free public college.

    “Americans of all political stripes have trended towards a more active government in the past few years, but the shifts have been particularly significant among independents and Republicans.

    “For example, in October 2010, 17 percent of Republicans said that the government should do more, while 79 percent said it was doing too much. In the latest poll, the share of Republicans saying that government should do more is up to 28 percent, while 69 percent say it does too much.

    “The net change for independents is even more dramatic. In 2010, independents favored a less active government by 22 percentage points. This year? They favor a more active government by the same share.”

    https://talkpoverty.org/2016/05/04/why-support-for-fighting-poverty-is-already-higher-than-you-think/

    “Public support for fighting poverty is growing.

    “A much–publicized poll from Harvard’s Institute of Politics last week finds that millennials increasingly favor government action to reduce poverty and expand opportunity. In fact, 47 percent of those between the ages of 18-29 agree that “basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them.” That’s up from 43 percent last year and 42 percent in 2014. A similar number of millennials—45 percent—believe the government should spend more to reduce poverty. That’s a dramatic increase from the 40 percent who shared this view in 2015, and the 35 percent who did in 2013.

    “But what the media missed in covering this poll is that these numbers actually understate the broad, bipartisan support for key safety net programs that help low- and moderate-income Americans.

    “A Vox/Morning Consult poll last month found that 60 percent of people ages 18-29 would be willing to pay additional taxes to fund “welfare benefits, such as help for women with infants or children, or nutrition programs”—significantly higher support than the Harvard findings. A majority—51 percent—would also pay more taxes to provide additional income assistance for those living below the poverty line.

    “Moreover, support for antipoverty programs is not limited to younger voters. 53 percent of Gen Xers—those between the ages of 45 and 54—support more benefit funding for women, infants or children. And when it comes to Social Security, a majority of voters in every age group would be willing to pay additional taxes to fund the program—including 56 percent of millennials. In fact, a Pew poll this year found that 54 percent of respondents from all age groups think aiding those in poverty should be a “top priority” for Congress and the President this year.

    “The lesson from this data is clear: the American public overwhelmingly supports investments that expand opportunity for low- and moderate-income people, and they are even more sympathetic when asked about specific programs. This sentiment shouldn’t come as a surprise. From Medicaid to Pell Grants, Americans have long supported public efforts to reduce health care costs, improve education, and expand opportunity.

    “Now they just need their leaders to listen.”

    http://www.salon.com/2017/01/14/americans-overwhelmingly-support-bernie-sanders-economic-policies-so-howd-we-end-up-here/

    ““The overwhelming majority of the American people — including many people who voted for Mr. Trump — support the ideas that we’re talking about,” insisted Sanders. “On many economic issues you would be surprised at how many Americans hold the same views. Very few people believe what the Republican leadership believes now: tax breaks for billionaires and cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

    “Public polling tends to support his claim. A Gallup survey from last May, for example, revealed that a majority of Americans (58 percent) support the idea of replacing the Affordable Care Act with a federally funded health care system (including four in 10 Republicans!), while only 22 percent of Americans say they want Obamacare repealed and don’t want to replace it with a single-payer system. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll from last year had similar results: Almost two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) had a positive reaction to “Medicare-for-all,” while only a small minority (13 percent) supported repealing the ACA and replacing it with a Republican alternative. These are surprising numbers when you consider how the Sanders campaign’s “Medicare-for-all” plan was written off by critics as being too extreme.

    “On other issues, a similar story presents itself. Public Policy Polling (PPP) has found that the vast majority (88 percent) of voters in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — four crucial swing states, three of which went to Trump this fall — oppose cutting Social Security benefits, while a majority (68 percent) oppose privatizing Social Security. Similarly, 67 percent of Americans support requiring high-income earners to pay the payroll tax for all of their income (the cap is currently $118,500), according to a Gallup poll. America’s two other major social programs, Medicare and Medicaid, are also widely supported by Americans, and the vast majority oppose any spending cuts to either. In fact, more Americans support cutting the national defense budget than Medicare or Medicaid.”

    Like

  7. Consider FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. It sounds like the most generous of welfare states found in Scandinavian social democracies. It’s hard to imagine almost any Democrat advocating a political vision that radically leftist. Even Sanders, the most progressive voice being heard right now, sounds moderate compared to listening to FDR.

    I’ve never claimed FDR was perfect. He felt the need to include the support of racists to enact his New Deal. But then again, the Clinton New Democrats had even less excuse for their promoting racism so many decades later. FDR wasn’t a starry-eyed utopian. Even so, he didn’t pull his punches and he aimed high.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights

    “The Second Bill of Rights is a list of rights that was proposed by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944.[1] In his address, Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize and should now implement, a second “bill of rights.” Roosevelt’s argument was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” His remedy was to declare an “economic bill of rights” to guarantee these specific rights:

    “Employment, Food, clothing, and leisure with enough income to support them
    Farmers’ rights to a fair income
    Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
    Housing
    Medical care
    Social security
    Education

    “Roosevelt stated that having such rights would guarantee American security, and that the US’s place in the world depended upon how far the rights had been carried into practice.”

    Like

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Fear and Loathing in American Politics: the Future of the Sane Center | Laura A. Diaz ____ Teach Write
  2. Inequality Means No Center to Moderate Toward | Marmalade

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