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  Eric Stetson's interesting diary the other day about the danger of young people leaving the center-right Democratic Party and going to the more cynical libertarian ideology got me thinking.

   How did we arrive at this point?

  To understand how we got here, we have to go back to 1948.

  The Taft-Hartley Act (called "the slave-labor bill" by President Truman), pushed through by a Republican Congress the year before, severely restricted the power of labor unions.
    One key item of Taft-Hartley is that it forces union leaders to denounce the Communist Party. This put the Congress of Industrial Organizations in a bind. Unlike the conservative AFL, the CIO was openly socialist. Also, unlike the AFL, the CIO was much more effective at organizing (including USWA, UMWA, UAW, and ILWU).
  Philip Murray refused to sign the required anti-communist affidavit. However, he enthusiastically purged the communists from the CIO, eventually kicking out 11 unions by 1950.

  Without the enthusiastic organizational efforts of the communists, the labor movement in America never fully recovered.
  It's one thing to risk your neck to achieve the goal of a better world for the working class. It's an entirely different thing to risk your neck for a 50 cent an hour raise.

  Around the same time, the House Un-American Activities Committee was investigating Hollywood.
  This House committee was first created in 1934 and was called the "Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities". It died out that year without uncovering anything significant, but not before it shifted its focus from fascists to communists.
  It was recreated in 1938 under the shorter and more familiar name and was chaired by Martin Dies (known then as the Dies Committee). It's purpose was to investigate German American involvement in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan activity. Shortly after its creation, the HUAC's chief counsel Ernest Adamson announced, "The committee has decided that it lacks sufficient data on which to base a probe." Committee member John E. Rankin added: "After all, the KKK is an old American institution."

[Note: Dies spoke at several KKK rallies.]
  So instead of investigating the Klan, the HUAC decided to investigate communist influence in the Federal Theatre Project. This is very ironic because the Dies committee was co-chaired by Samuel Dickstein, a man who turned out to be on the Soviet payroll.

  Senator Joseph McCarthy was actually quite late to this witch-hunt. By the time he arrived at the scene in 1950 the destruction of thousands of people's lives for having unpopular political beliefs was already in full swing.
   By the time of McCarthy's downfall in December 1954, the Communist Party in America had largely ceased to exist.

So What?

   Some people look at Europe today and wonder why we don't have things like universal health care and a real social safety net.
   These people often overlook the fact that those nations still have communist and socialist parties.

  We destroyed our leftist anarchist groups during the First Red Scare using methods such as  "entrapment, police brutality, prolonged incommunicado detention, and violations of due process in court." The government specifically targeted the left-wing, anarchist IWW labor union. We then destroyed the communist and communist-leaning groups 30 years later through methods only slightly less brutal.
   Communism didn't die in America because Americans rejected it. It was murdered.

"the IWW was crushed and never revived, similar action at this time would have been as effective against the Communist Party."
  - J. Edgar Hoover

  It's important to note that both the House and Senate were under Democratic control from 1949 to 1953, during the height of the Second Red Scare. It was a Republican Senate that censured McCarthy.
   What made the Second Red Scare so effective was that liberal groups so enthusiastically betrayed their leftist allies to the delight of conservatives.

  So what happens to a group political debate when an entire ideology is banned from the debate?
   We didn't ban all extremists. Not for a second. "After all, the KKK is an old American institution," and David Duke was still running for president as a Democrat as late as 1988.
   It's hard to make a case that the terrorist group Klan is less extreme than communists.

  When you cut off the left side of political debate, the center naturally drifts to the right. Moderates will continue to be in the center, but the center had moved.

  Besides eliminating any and all left-wing ideas from American politics, it also changes the texture of the debate.

  Leon Trotsky once said that communism was the politics of hope, and fascism was the politics of despair. While that was probably an exaggeration, he does have a point.
   Communist speakers tend to preach about a better future for humanity, so much so that conservatives accuse them of being utopians.
Extreme conservatives talk about people we should be afraid of.
  Communists talk about breaking chains and freedom.
 Extreme conservatives talk about fearing God and protecting us from dangerous ideas.

  Whether you believe anything that either of them says (and you probably shouldn't), the fact is that Trotsky had a point and you can see that in today's political debates.

   Where is the talk about a better world? Where is the talk about more freedom? Not just protecting the freedoms we have, but actually expanding on our freedoms?
   Where is the damn hope?

  Liberals have been engaged in a fighting retreat against the forces of conservatism for so long that the idea of taking the fight to the enemy isn't even considered anymore.
   There is a reason for that: the extremists are always the most vocal and aggressive.

  The left-wing purged its extremists more than 60 years ago.
   The right-wing, OTOH, has cultivated its extremists until they now threaten to dominate the political spectrum.

  The Democrats today are dominated by moderates. What do moderates do? They find a middle ground. That is their nature. As the middle ground shifts to the right, they shift in the same direction.

   So when a younger generation gets disgusted with the broken status quo of our political system they will search for something that isn't part of the mainstream. In the past they would discover socialists and communists, but those no longer exist. There is no one left to speak their inspiring (if sometimes misguided) words of a better future (i.e. the exact thing that those kids will want to hear).
   Instead they will only hear the voices of despair and distrust from today's American libertarians, and see that reality reflected in today's world.

  The political world we have today didn't happen because conservatives made it that way. It happened because liberals looked the other way when leftists were being persecuted for having unpopular beliefs.
   We can change that, but liberals will have to show the same tolerance for extreme left-wing ideas that conservatives show for extreme right-wing ideas.

12:15 PM PT: Which party really is the Big Tent?
Sure, the Democrats win the ethnicity debate hands down, but political parties are about politics first and race second.
  Doesn't it seem strange that the GOP has more tolerance for unpopular right-wing political ideas than the Democrats have for unpopular left-wing political ideas?

  And let's not forget what those unpopular communist ideas used to be: universal health care, 40-hour work weeks, child-labor laws, women's suffrage, and of course, social security.
   Both parties fought these ideas tooth-and-nail for decades before FDR.

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    “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

    by gjohnsit on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:16:41 AM PDT

  •  It's not about moderates, Democrats, Republicans (58+ / 0-)

    or different political or ideological groups, in the final analysis.

    At the root, what's happening is that the wealthy elite (corporations, Wall Street, Big Oil/Pharma) have taken over the levers of power by bribing/buying off the politicians.

    That's it.  That's the root.

  •  Exactly right (47+ / 0-)

    We have excoriated all thoughts of any system other than capitalism and unfettered greed. And socialism, the ability to pool our resources and make something better, lies as a dessicated corpse on our political landscape.

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:33:50 AM PDT

  •  So true (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, gjohnsit, blueoregon

    "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

    by voracious on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:39:18 AM PDT

  •  Huh? You think we should emulate the right?? (14+ / 0-)
    We can change that, but liberals will have to show the same tolerance for extreme left-wing ideas that conservatives show for extreme right-wing ideas.
    What, so we can go the same way, electorally, as conservatives?  No thanks!!  The reason the right wing is increasingly marginalised and keeps losing elections is precisely because they tolerate their extremists.  The idea of some Tea Party equivalent from the far left grabbing us all by the short and curlies and dragging us all into electoral oblivion is far from my idea of how to move forward.
  •  Not Sure (16+ / 0-)

    I think this is orbiting around the truth -- or maybe flirting with it somehow. We don't need Trotskyism or any specific Leftist ideology, mild or extreme, to keep the country on an even keel. However, the left does need to continue to have access to and influence on the political process.

    I think we're being locked out by our own methods:

    "Holding your nose" while we vote for center-right or even conservative Democrats mean that we never hold our elected official responsible for the decisions they make. The answer is to stop voting for politicians whose agendas you don't support.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:41:12 AM PDT

    •  We just tried that in North Carolina in (14+ / 0-)

      2010 and 2012. The Teabaggers dominated the Republican ballot spots, while "Blew Dawgs" dominated the Democratic spots.

      The Democrats and Unaffiliateds, lulled into disinterest by Obama's tack to the right, didn't "hold their noses " and "vote for center-right or even conservative Democrats"; no, bored and disenchanted, they either stayed home or voted for third party candidates.

      The result is the massive rightwing teabag Republican pile of shit we now have in the legislature and governor's mansion, a pile of shit that makes what went on in Wisconsin last year look like a liberal utopia.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:57:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Always (0+ / 0-)

        Always hear that argument

        The Democrats and Unaffiliateds, lulled into disinterest by Obama's tack to the right, didn't "hold their noses " and "vote for center-right or even conservative Democrats"; no, bored and disenchanted, they either stayed home or voted for third party candidates.
        What would have happened, if all the ones who did hold their nose and vote the "lesser evil", had voted for one of those hard left candidates?

        "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." T. Roosevelt

        by Lowgun on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:24:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, yours is a nice thought. I mean, what if (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          all the pigs on hog farms across North Carolina grew wings and took flight? Oh, and stopped shitting too?

          I'm sure it would be great, but we really shouldn't live in a fantasy world. It's fine to be optimistic, even a bit idealistic...but reality's a bitch.

          "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

          by blue in NC on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:36:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So (0+ / 0-)

            The answer is to keep doing what we are doing, vote the lesser evil conservadem, and let things drift a little more to the right.

            "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." T. Roosevelt

            by Lowgun on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:50:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  But That's an Utterly Passive Plan (8+ / 0-)

      and it's what we've been doing for this 40 year march to the right.

      Unfortunately we need to recruit and create better candidates to vote for. For half a lifetime now it should be obvious that the party will never do that enough. Most of the time we'll be letting the Republicans win if we simply wait for good Dems to come along.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:10:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We continually are handed decisions in general (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JosephK74, m2old4bs, Aquarius40, native

      elections where there's the lesser of two evils situation.  The time to fight is primaries, and if the winner doesn't uphold their promises, primary them again.  However, in general elections, withholding votes from the lesser of two evils ensures the worse of the evils and the more destruction and damage that will have to be undone.

      We can never stay home on election day as we did in 2010, even if we have to "hold our nose" to vote for the person with a "D" after their name if it means that an "R" would otherwise win.  Republicans laugh at Democrats for being pure and losing.

  •  Another thing that changed (38+ / 0-)

    is that in the 1970's network executives decided that their news broadcasts had to be profitable. Therefore, control of those broadcasts went from journalists to account executives. The account executives are controlled by their accounts. Goodbye news, hello propaganda and sensationalism. It's hard to know the truth if you're never exposed to it.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:44:10 AM PDT

  •  Overton (19+ / 0-)

    If we keep introducing the Overton Window to clueless Democratic politicians, maybe eventually they'll see the point of having a vibrant and well-protected left wing of the party.

    Middle-of-the-road people tend to pride themselves on making decisions based on pragmatism.  We have to teach them that their vaunted self-interest is best served by treating our views with respect while talking to media and making speeches.

    •  More of a side observation than a reply... (14+ / 0-)

      partially prompted by my irritation at Matt Taibbi's 2008 book that equated the "loony left" with the "radical right" and posited, falsely, that the far left was dominated by the "9/11 truth" movement.

      Left-wing extremists have small organizations with little influence. Their leaders never make appearances in the mainstream media, and they are routinely shunned by mainstream liberals. Right-wing extremists dominate the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, state legislatures and governor's offices, and much of the media. Big fucking difference, that.

      •  You touch on something of extreme (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Max, zett, Aquarius40, native

        pertinence. The suppression of the organized left in the US has as much to do with it's own incapacity and errors as it does overt attacks by the Government and the RW.

        The Left in the US has been subject to attacks both legal and extra legal through out it's history. As bad as the 50's Red Scare was, it hardly compares to violence of previous decades directed against the Left. For that matter, it hardly compares to the violence that was directed against the Left and Progressives during the 1960's.

        The fundamental difference between the past and the present is the apparent inability of the Left to organize itself into an effective political force in the face of repression and marginalization. Instead, we have a disorganized gaggle of "activists" who run after the latest issue du jour, tailing whatever frame Media finds marketable at the moment.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:27:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If we follow middle of the road centrists (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PALiberal1, Lowgun, gjohnsit

      we can win all the battles while still losing the war.

      We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

      by RageKage on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:01:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  inetersting diary (11+ / 0-)

    thanks for posting it

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:47:34 AM PDT

  •  Another element is the (18+ / 0-)

    constant drumbeat of hatehatehate from the right that has overwhelmed and saturated the mainstream media.

    In a sane world, no self-respecting radio provider would sponsor a Rush Limbaugh (to cite a single example). Instead, the FCC overthrew the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, and Limbaugh went national with his syndicated "three hours of hate, five days a week" a year later with no refutation or competition from the left or the center.

    Not suggesting a conspiracy as much as I am a confluence and an aggressive, opportunistic push from the billionaire-funded right to dominate and mutate the discourse. It has been spectacularly successful.

    •  Since you're from North Carolina, I guess (11+ / 0-)

      I don't have to tell you how well you've just described the majority of the commenters on our state's newspapers' online forums. "HateHateHate" all the time: thinly-veiled (or totally unveiled) racism, homophobic hatred and bigotry, rabid xenophobia, pathological anti-labor rhetoric, etc.

      Worse than that, however, is the hatehatehate directly out of the foul mouths of the Republican elected officials! The governor dismissing lifelong North Carolinians as "outside agitators", a state senator describing the activities of peaceful protesters at the Genaral Assembly as "Moron Mondays", another State Senator telling a constituent "you're the citizen, I'm the senator; you need to be quiet", etc.

      And, in general, our compliant press pretty much gives all that crap a pass - well, except when the Capitol Gestapo arrested a Charlotte Observer reporter for doing his job...that warranted at least a few days of positive coverage of protests.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:07:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  there is nothing wrong with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    removing the anti-human and enslaving ideology of communism from the equation, just as there is nothing wrong with removing the nazi and fascist ideologies. None of those ideologies belong in civilized societies, no matter their presence in some European countries.

  •  It's like we haven't fully rejected our feudal (20+ / 0-)

    roots, given how we simply refuse to view the owning and ruling classes as being mostly opposed to our interests, or else we wouldn't have a problem with socialism or even communism. The roots of conservatism are in feudalism, i.e. the dominance of an aristocratic class. So to embrace conservatism is to embrace aristocracy and feudalism, even if you don't think of it as such.

    Why can't we let go of that? Do Americans still believe, deep down, that one day they too will be aristocrats (i.e. rich, since money is the currency of power in the US)? Or are they simply unable to let go of their devotion to their power superiors? Our culture clearly has authoritarian elements (e.g. god, country). For all our alleged love of liberty and individuality, we still have a thing for power and authority, and can't seem to move past it.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:00:24 PM PDT

    •  Yes. (6+ / 0-)
      Why can't we let go of that? Do Americans still believe, deep down, that one day they too will be aristocrats (i.e. rich, since money is the currency of power in the US)? Or are they simply unable to let go of their devotion to their power superiors?
      Can't recall specifics, but I'm reminded of a pair of speeches/presentations made before a local audience by two guys running for office. The first one, a center-lib, spent his time talking about equality and opportunity, criticizing the wealthy for hoarding the nation's resources while millions go hungry, etc. Lukewarm reception. The second guy, a righty, started by asking the crowd, "Don't YOU want to be wealthy? We're the guys who can make that happen!" The audience liked that. Fuck a bunch of fairness and equality, we just want to be rich! Then instead of giving a damn about the poor because we are poor, we can lord it over them on our way to the country club just like all the people we admire. The rest of the second speech was apparently little more than an Amway presentation tailored for the campaign.

      Americans lap that shit up. So do most everyone else.

    •  The ones on the far right do, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, socindemsclothing


      Do Americans still believe, deep down, that one day they too will be aristocrats (i.e. rich, since money is the currency of power in the US)?

      "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

      by lunachickie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:26:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's because of our Calvinist influence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socindemsclothing, gjohnsit

      It's not that Americans believe deep down that they too will become wealthy aristocrats. It's that they believe, thanks to Calvinist influence in our culture, that wealth is a measure of how good and virtuous a person is.

      Calvinism believes that who's going to be saved has already been ordained by God, and that doing good works doesn't get you in His good graces. If he's already decided you'll spend eternity downstairs, you could solve world hunger and that wouldn't change His mind.

      But Calvinism also believes that God drops hints about who's going to be saved and who isn't, and that He does it by showering wealth on those who will be saved. The greater the wealth, the greater the signal that this is a person God loves.

      Conversely, the poor are going to Hell, and there's not a thing that can be done about that. God hates them. They are sinners. The Hell with them!

      And that is why America loves the rich and hates the poor.

      •  While I think Calvinism is an influence (0+ / 0-)

        I think its importance has been overrated. Probably because I was raised as a Methodist.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:54:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The influence is cultural, not religious (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It becomes part of the Weltanschauung.

          If you have an alternate theory of why America worships the wealthy and craps on the poor, I'd like to hear it.  

          •  Worship of wealth (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            isn't peculiar to the US. Nor is it universal, even in this country. Thatcher's extended rule in the UK as well as the advance of neo-Liberalism in Europe and China's embrace of the market all show that this isn't an impulse requiring a specifically American explanation.


            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:02:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Different cultures, different explanations? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves

              China has long been materialistic, going back to Confucius. As for the advance of neo-Liberalism in Europe, could it have been influenced by America? After all, American culture dominates the world. Every country drinks Coca-Cola, and I cannot think of a single French or German soft drink.

            •  Isn't this just bourgeoism? (3+ / 0-)

              The elevation of the making and having of lots of money and its conspicuous consumption and display to the highest possible virtue? There are aspects of it that actually kind of make sense. Most Americans have relatively recent roots in poverty, since most of their immigrant ancestors came here to make money or escape poverty and oppression. There's a sort of collective and tribal memory of poverty and its nastiness and unpleasantness. So I can see how most Americans look up to the rich, wanting and perhaps hoping to be one of them, or at least hoping to associate themselves with them to escape their poor ancestors' past. The rich know it, and exploit it.

              My two cent theory.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:30:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think our particular cultural spin has to do (0+ / 0-)

                with the fact that the US was founded and developed in conditions of relative material plenty. In this instance land taken from the native peoples. The existence of the frontier for the first century of the nations history meant that everyone had the theoretical option of pulling up stakes and going west to become an independent farmer, rancher, land owner, etc. The corresponding boom in commercial enterprise to serve this constantly expanding agrarian class provided immense business opportunities. It's easy to see how such an environment a belief that anyone could make it who wanted to.

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:23:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Wasn't Methodism one of the driving forces (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          antirove, WB Reeves

          behind many of this country's progressive movements, like abolition, women's suffrage and the progressive movement? Or, at least, weren't many northern Methodists instrumental in such movements?

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:23:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Methodists (0+ / 0-)

            have always had a social commitment. As a nonconformist denomination outside the state religion it could hardly be otherwise. This tendency wasn't always progressive. Methodists were prominent in the push for Prohibition, which made them prime targets for H.L. Mencken's acid barbs.

            OTOH, Methodist women were very active in the Southern Association of Women for the Prevention of Lynching. Bob Zellner, who was a figure in the Student Nonvio;ent Coordinating Committee, has written about how his Methodist upbringing affected his decision to become active in the Civil Rights movement.

            The distinction between Northern and southern Methodist is well made. The Church split over slavery prior to the Civil War, as did the Baptists. Northern Methodists held that no slave owner was fit to be a Bishop. Southern slave holding Methodists disagreed. They eventually re-joined one another as the United Methodist Church early in the last century.  

            But really, I was referring to the fact that traditionally Calvinists have considered Methodists to be Arminian heretics.

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:51:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's elderly Democrats becoming (0+ / 0-)

    libertarians, and that as they start to pass on, things will improve dramatically.

    I don't see any evidence that it's young Democrats becoming libertarians.

    The only people I'm aware of with a history of turning bad like that are the elderly (in the 1980's).

    My anecdotal experience is that it's the idealistic generations (baby boomers and older) who see-saw back and forth between nihilism (liberarianism/civic disengagement) and being Democratic supporters.

    Young people these days aren't idealistic enough to drop out. And they aren't far enough to the left to be the ones we need to worry about on that front. Their cynicism is sad (stolen youth), but I think it will make them more effective participants in our Democracy for the forces of good.

    I think it's actually elderly Democrats who are becoming libertarians, but I don't think they have it in them to change their reactionary approach to US politics at this point, so therefore I don't think coddling their libertarian leanings is going to do us any good.

    It's all anecdotal and Kuttner (who wrote the original article concern trolling the young) is 70. What does he know about young people? Probably just enough to blame them for his generation's failures.

    •  Remember that the elderly (0+ / 0-)

      will control the country demographically for a few years still.

      The country doesn't really "drift to the right."

      I think it just keeps ratcheting in that direction as the elderly go through these cycles of civic disengagement because as baby boomers they were raised to be idealists (they had demographic control of their own destiny) but were constantly beaten back by things like the JFK/MLK/RFK assassinations and other disappointments.

      I think BB'ers are just too idealistic, and they can't stand the disappointment, so they go through these cycles of being engaged and then dropping out.

      I don't see that idealism from the young at a largescale level. They're too practical. They had it beaten into them. They  never got to have a period where they controlled their own destinies, so they never had high expectations really.

      That's my anecdotal experience anyway.

      •  Well, I've spent a fair amount of time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        working with young folks and I think you're over generalizing.

        By far most of the activists for Ron Paul in my area are not BBs. Much less seniors.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:59:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  anecdotal (0+ / 0-)

          my anecdotal experience is the opposite.

          it's elderly democrats who are becoming libertarians, not the young.

          until this is more than just anecdotal, i really don't trust the elderly like Kuttner to give us honest reports on young people.

          too many bb'ers and elderly that i know are now in denial mode about what they're leaving their kids, and it's driven them to drop out.

          they need to blame someone, so they blame obama rather than themselves.

          demographically dailykos is evidently pretty old, and i think there's a fair amount of that going on here. bb'ers failed as a generation to leave their kids better off than they were, and there's a fair amount of guilt, flailing, and nihilistic/fearful gnashing of teeth as a result. so they're looking for a villain, and what better than a strong liberal black man? america loves that, even many democrats.

    •  Not me or my husband. The long hair on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frankensteiner, LeftOverAmerica

      many hippies is gray, too.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:33:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary but I don't think it's liberals that (5+ / 0-)

    need to adopt more "extreme policies", it's moderates.  But what does define an "extreme policy"?  Some people would think that Senator Mark Begich's (D. AK) plan to lift the cap on top earners to pay more into Social Security as an "extreme policy" but it really isn't.  Personally, I think liberals need to spend more time persuading moderate voters to shift more to the left and get the people who don't vote but share our views to help push the Democratic Party to the left.  I can understand why to a degree OWS candidates running in Dem primaries lost.  Moderate voters see both the tea party movement and OWS as being two sides of the same coin.  But I think we're seeing a shift with Democrats like Warren, Franken, Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and we're getting more libertarian-leaning Democrats like Mark Udall, Jon Tester and Begich to help shift the party.  I also see more moderates like Kay Hagan shift to left on issues like marriage equality, background checks and Social Security.  It's moderate Democratic voters that are helping keep the party in the center.  One of my good friends back in Philly is the definitive moderate Democrat.  He voted for Kerry in 2004 but voted for Arlen Specter when he ran for re-election and he was a firm Specter supporter in the 2010 primary.  He was pissed that Joe Sestak won and felt like the party betrayed Specter, especially when he did deliver for the state.  But the thing is Specter's days were numbered and it's kind of hard to get over his flowery endorsement of Sarah Palin in 2008.  McCain is one thing and was forgivable but Palin wasn't.  Plus Specter had pissed off both sides so much from the Anita Hill hearings to voting against Robert Bork and refusing to impeach Clinton in 1998 that he really would've had a much harder time beating Pat Toomey than Sestak.  Now my friend did suck it up and voted for Sestak even when he was threatening to vote for Toomey but he also overlooks the fact that Ed Rendell had been begging Specter to switch parties for years now and Specter refused to do so and he sealed his own fate.  His party switch was noble but too little too late.  Plus the PA Dem party and Rendell were trying to demonize Sestak with robocalls claiming that Sestak would support Toomey if he lost the primary.  That wast true at all.  Plus moderate voters can also be populist voters.  They vote based on popular positions.  You could have people who support raising taxes on the rich and background checks but also have voters who approve of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  You can get moderates over to the left, it's just a matter of how you persuade them.  My mother and her sisters are center left Dems and big Hillary supporters and were about to vote for Specter in the primary until I hyped up Sestak and they went with him.  My grandmother was a Republican for a while and loved Specter but she switched parties a few years back.  I remember what she said about Specter and the 2010 primary.  She said that as much as she appreciates Specter's work for PA and she will always be a supporter at heart, she thought it was Specter's time to retire and she too went for Sestak.  I asked my grandmother what she liked about Sestak and she said, "He's a decorated admiral of the Navy.  What's not to like about him?"

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:06:49 PM PDT

    •  Fascinating comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Your mother and sister ,the one's who had to be convinced not to vote Specter, don't sound center-left. What makes you think they are? Specific policy positions they hold?

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:25:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well they are open to the Keystone XL Pipeline (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pat bunny, lunachickie, Aquarius40

        because they believe we need the oil now and it will create jobs (lot of temporary but only 35 jobs).  They do believe in climate change and support more green technology but they don't think we're in the best transitional period yet.  They are very pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control and for raising taxes on the rich.  They're the type of Dem voters that think in a state like PA, it's safer to go with a centrist like Specter even though they still hold a grudge against him for the Anita Hill hearings.  They're also for welfare reform but given that my Aunt was a social worker, another is a police captain and my mother ran the ER unit and had to deal with drug addicts who were taking advantage of the system, I can see their point.  They're not for legalizing weed, they heavily believe it's a gateway drug and they fear that if legalized, more people are going to be less motivated and focused.  Now they are ok with decriminalization and they don't think pot smokers should be put in jail and are ok with some medicinal use but again, they only advocate it's use for sick people and no one else.  Like they wouldn't support someone like Daylin Leach (D. PA-13) who's running for congress and is pro-marijuana legalization.  They are also in favor of immigration reform but firmly believe that English is the official language of the U.S.

        Funny Stuff at

        by poopdogcomedy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:35:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Its really simple and obvious... (9+ / 0-)

    The right more rigidly pushes the corporate agenda so the the corporate media favors them. Combine this with the poor education lacking such important subjects as logic, critical think and civics and you have a fair percent of the population easily manipulated.

    I really didn't realize how bamboozled so many people were till recently when on two different occasions talking with a 30 something both times. Neither was aware of Cheney being the CEO of the company he later gave a no bid contract to, which is one of the most obviously corrupt things done in plain sight from the white house.

    Most Americans are asleep at the wheel and unless the media goes out of its way to make them aware, they aren't. And the media has no interest in informing the low information votes about anything that goes against the grain of the corporate agenda.

    (For the record I don't believe the 'corporate agenda' is one giant conspiracy, but if a lot of forces attempt to achieve the same general goals independently, its as effective as one)

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:13:28 PM PDT

  •  The US was founded on the power of slave labor (6+ / 0-)

    Cheap exploitable land violently conquered and developed into profitable enterprises with imported slave labor.

    This nation was founded on the system of plantations and mercantilism.  There is a reason that the US flag looks like it does - it was a copy of the East India Trading Company's flag.

  •  We Forget How to Use the Election Cycle (9+ / 0-)

    We don't use off years and midterms to move the window left. The party conservatives have us tied up for the entire election cycle trying not to frighten Republican swing voters. So the Repubs take us to the right when they win, and the Democrats leave us wherever we are when they win.

    We need to use the cycle appropriately and now is the point for pushing the hardest for progressive and liberal policies and candidates.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:14:47 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure it's been forgotten (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Lily O Lady, antirove
      We don't use off years and midterms to move the window left.
      It's just that there are some who blow past it and get all ahead of themselves in their rush to Anoint The Next Winner.

      That's no exaggeration--here we are, it's still 2013, haven't even had mid-terms, and how many times have you already been told about The Inevitability of Hillary Clinton, three years from now?

      "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

      by lunachickie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:37:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent practical observation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, Aquarius40

      The basic problem is that the Left is fragmented into largely "single issue" organizations that shy away from a broader critique. Consequently, between elections they spend their time agitating for a particular cause rather than promoting a general view of what needs to be done systemically. Contrast this to how the RW unflaggingly promotes a general perspective,uniting the otherwise disparate elements which make up its constituency.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:10:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are some very good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    datasets out there addressing the politics (both party-identification and issue-specific views) of the ~17-22 years cohort, including CERP's annual survey since 1967. All of these diaries about "the youth" could really benefit from some, you know, actual data.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:18:31 PM PDT

  •  There will be a refusal to get it (9+ / 0-)

    There will be an insistence that genuinely progressive political change in the US has ever been driven by anything other than the radical left.

    I've been down this road here, I don't bother anymore, it's painful to know the history and be called ignorant, stupid and liar by people who don't know the history.

    "You may very well think so, I could not possibly comment." ~ Francis Urquhart, pragmatic political philosopher

    by ActivistGuy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:22:05 PM PDT

  •  I proudly proclaim that I am communist/socialist (8+ / 0-)

    When the conversation veer in that direction.

    Stand Up!  Do not be shamed!

    I will not let the legacy of imperfect or evil persons that have claimed that same label be used to shame me.

    It's long past time to claim the fertile ground on the left.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:26:35 PM PDT

  •  "Communism didn't die in America because..." (15+ / 0-)

    "...Americans rejected it. It was murdered."

    While OWS is barely alive, many would say the same thing about that effort, as well. Except this time, we have extensive documentation -- almost in real time -- that this did happen, as a direct result of actions of our captured government: 2011 Gov’t Report Confirmation: DHS, Banks Gathered Key Intel On OWS From Daily Kos, Other Sites (4/4/13)

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:29:33 PM PDT

  •  It continues to this very day on this very site (10+ / 0-)

    where people are proudly proclaiming one minute they are "pragmatic" and the next that they are "progressive" (progressive pragmatics? oh that's a whole New Democrat) all the while supporting and excusing the deterioration of our rights. Leftists have been openly mocked by both the administration and by many here, just when we need them the most.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:30:06 PM PDT

  •  In other words, centrist orthodoxy? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy


    Big tent my ass.

    Slap happy is a platform.

    by averageyoungman on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:30:15 PM PDT

  •  in Costa Rica, I had an interesting conversation (16+ / 0-)

    about this point:

    Some people look at Europe today and wonder why we don't have things like universal health care and a real social safety net.
       These people often overlook the fact that those nations still have communist and socialist parties.
    Most Americans have no idea that Costa Rica is a European-style social welfare state. Under the Costa Rican Constitution, every citizen is entitled to basic necessities--including health care, education, electricity, water, phones, and sewage. As a result, no matter where you live in the country, you have these services---if you live in a shack on the slope of a volcano in the middle of the jungle, they will run lines all the way out there to you. They'll build a school in any village with more than five children, and bus you to the nearest school if you have fewer.

    That constitutional requirement came because the Constitution was actually written, together, by two groups--the Catholic Church, and the Communist Party.

    But one major provision in the Constitution really sealed the deal for Costa Rica and made it the country it is today---Costa Rica is barred constitutionally from having a standing army.

    In every other Central American country, the military was long used to crush dissent and stifle social reforms. Costa Rica, however, never had that option---if a group of people rose up demanding this or that social reform, the government had no choice but to listen to them and respond. As a result, Costa Ricans have one of the best living standards in all of South America.

    Today, the Communist Party is all but extinct in Costa Rica.  But its legacy lives on for everyone.

    •  One of the beautiful places I considered (0+ / 0-)

      to become my home when I retired in 1998.  The South of France and Costa Rica.  I made a decision to stay in South Florida - which I regret each and every day.  I regret not seeking refuge in France or Costa Rica.  The US is a total mess now. I do not see things being straightened out in my lifetime.  


  •  Excellent post, thannks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    SOS - Save Our Sigs!

    by blueoregon on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:33:35 PM PDT

  •  As soon (8+ / 0-)

    as African-Americans were brought into the political process and welfare state enjoyed by whites there was a massive political backlash that was taken advantage of by the plutocrats running the Republican party. There was and continues to be a huge section of this country that will vote against their economic interests along as blacks and browns are getting the shorter end of the stick then they are.

     To try to give a colorblind explantion of why this country moved right misses the mark.

  •  communism died (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, tardis10, 3goldens

    that left the capitalists with a monopoly

    What happens when all the markets and stores go bellyup leaving supperwallyworld as the only source of goods, well there is no incentive to provide decent goods at reasonable price.

    likewise capitalists can do whatever they want

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:36:29 PM PDT

  •  I've heard it said... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That communism basically save the Republican Party.  As long as there is a big Red Scare, the GOP had a raison d'etre.  And they exploited that to the fullest by labeling even modest socialist plans as 'Pinko Commie Talk'.

    While I agree that the last remnants of the 'radical left' were destroyed in the 1970's, I'm not so sure that not having a radical left will mean that the youth of today will become 'radically right' because they have no choice in radicalism.  The fall of the Berlin Wall occurred in late 1989, before any millennial were born.  They've grown up in a world where emanate nuclear destruction is not in the back of everyone's mind.  They are highly social having large networks of friendships.  They tend to be more international in focus and do not readily define people by stereotypes.  

    Now, that's not to say that the Milineals doesn't have a segment that is 'America, Fuck Yeah!', but their rhetoric doesn't have the same impact it did 20 years ago.  My son was called a 'communist' for his liberal views, he just thought it was funny - if not a point of pride.  Kinda like a neo-Godwin's-Law

    'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

    by RichM on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:38:11 PM PDT

    •  I'm also not sure that the kids of today (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, lotlizard, pgm 01

      will automatically join a right-wing group because there is no left-wing group.
         However, there is no one to show them another way. Where will they learn about these things? Do they even know these alternative ideas exist?

      “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

      by gjohnsit on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:42:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a fair point... (0+ / 0-)

        but the status quo is unsustainable and the radical right is villainized.  What does that leave?

        'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

        by RichM on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:09:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Terrorism became the new Communism (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, RichM, tardis10, Roger Fox

      Islamic Jihadism, in particular, replaced Soviet Communism as the great fear

      •  Yeah... (0+ / 0-)

        But it is not the same.  Communism was 'godless' and it meant that it took away freedom.  Radical Islamist have more in common with the Christian Conservatives than they do with mainstream Democrats.  Religion is the problem.

        'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

        by RichM on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:07:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  See, now I'm confused. I just asked someone (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          upthread who posited that communism gives us more freedom. I am trying to understand which it is because I've heard both. I am trying to understand the different ideologies, if we are asked to publicly entertain views further left and possibly promote them;-)

  •  I don't think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, lotlizard

    the people in this country are moving right. The political spectrum of right center left is no longer connected to any ideology or partisan politics for the matter. It's meaningless as the definition of center/moderate is not moderate it's extreme. The measurements have been skewed by the political players. Look at the so called 'news' along with the pundits who control the dialog.

    Then there are the political polls of mass deception. They classify the moderates as those who don't want their vagina's probed or terrist's killing their families. The far left is anybody who thinks the Heritage Foundations health care plan sucks or wants the Rule of Law restored and isn't a bloody war loving 'patriot' . President Obama great president or greatest? The scale is based on double speak and like our elections offer no real choice other then the fictitious narrative that the political class calls reality, Axelrod's 'world as we find it' does not encompass or offer any democratic ideology. It's nothing but right wing and extreme.    

    It gives me 'hope' that congress has a 10% approval rating and that when the people had had enough of the Bushies RW coup they voted for change. If the Democrat's want to stop losing voters they need to govern democratically once they win. A real moderate/centrist democratic policy and agenda would work to get people to vote for them. But come on, what real moderate let alone lefty wants a security secret police state based on the bogus GWOT and a global economy where Goldman Sachs rules the world and anyone who resists is an enemy of the state. Ass backwards to try to fit your politics to this fictitious spectrum that calls this extreme insanity center.  It could be worse, of course it could but why should that be our only choice.            

  •  Are we all forgetting that in the 19th Century (4+ / 0-)

    that Democrats were on the right and that Republicans were on the left?

    Ideologies can change within parties

  •  It was the association with Stalinism and (5+ / 0-)

    the Soviet Union that killed communism, and by association socialism in early post-war America.  Of course, there were plenty of conservatives who would have demonized communism and socialism regardless.  The Communist Party in America was still greatly influenced by Moscow during World War II and after. But even left wing people had realized that Stalin was a tyrant (see Darkness at Noon).  The association of Stalinism with Communism and socialism made it much harder for more traditional liberals to defend the freedom of the Communists and the socialists during the anti-Communist witch hunts of the 1940s and 50s.

    What we need is a true social democratic party, inspired by Franklin Roosevelt and by the successes of social democracy with Social Security and other safety net programs, and the successes of social democracy in other countries.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:53:17 PM PDT

    •  Commies pushed out of the coalition (0+ / 0-)

      by the mid 1930's.

      The coalition was Dems, Libs, Socialists, Communists, Ag Party.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 05:05:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well done. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    I remember, as a boy, wondering about the hysteria and persecution, governmental and other, of Communists and other leftists, given our First Amendment. Still don't get how that was an American thing to do.

    But that doesn't matter now. What matters now, as you well point out, is the enduring effect on the range of political discourse.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:59:51 PM PDT

  •  great and thought-provoking diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Roger Fox, gjohnsit

    I agree that the smashing of the left was relentless and thorough, especially focused first on extirpating the left from the labor movement. The reasons are simple and complex at the same time.

    Even notwithstanding all that had gone before, at the end of WWII, suddenly our allies against Germany, the USSR, were standing against us and our vision for rebuilding Europe. They took over a third of it or more, and in terms of land area, they were vast. They didn't believe in private property, and they were corrupt, and they were a dictatorship, and the capitalist system was freaked out.

    In 1949, the communists won in China. A hugely important country for a billion reasons, a vast potential market, a source of cheap labor, a place where imperialists had partied for centuries, fought wars over, sold drugs to, etc. The capitalist system had its second enormous shock in a 4-year span.

    The reaction in the US was to clamp down and drive them out of all aspects of domestic life, from academia to the media to the intelligentsia to the labor movement. They gave no quarter till the left was thoroughly purged from our institutions and culture.

    Then, almost miraculously, in the '60's, between the civil rights and anti-Viet Nam war movements, there was suddenly a left again. But no worries, another round of purging was just around the corner. Any thoughts of militant opposition in labor or civil rights or anywhere else was subjected to coordinated media vilification, police brutality, and purges. Consider the Black Panthers, who were arrested and gunned down in raid after raid for their militant rhetoric. They said things not too dissimilar to what is now being said by right wing gun nuts, but no one's kicking in the RKBA right wingers' doors at 4 AM, guns blazing.

    The OWS movement was the first glimmer of hope for a true mass movement that could challenge the laissez-faire ideology I had seen in two generations. Alas, it was disavowed nitpicked and ostracized, despite its very brief initial moment in the sun for its novelty. "Oh, look. Those strange people are out in that park. How quaint."

    But it did inspire some political action. It is the presence of people like Warren in our system now that make it possible not to just give up. But one thing Obama says that is very true is that he can't do change without a movement to force him to make changes. It's always been about the movement. Without leaders of organizations committed to big changes and many followers in those organizations willing to stick their necks out, we will slowly sink into irrelevance, fascism, and feudalism. Elections need to be driven by action on the ground for real change. Not by corporatist centrists who apologize for seeming to want to make rich people increase their taxes by a fraction of cent.

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:02:10 PM PDT

  •  Stomps, cheers, wolf-whistles (8+ / 0-)
    The political world we have today didn't happen because conservatives made it that way. It happened because liberals looked the other way when leftists were being persecuted for having unpopular beliefs.

       We can change that, but liberals will have to show the same tolerance for extreme left-wing ideas that conservatives show for extreme right-wing ideas.

    And it needs to start by reaching out to "Progressives" instead of smearing them with superlatives like "Nader Lover" and insisting that their voices "don't matter" or "their candidates Simply Aren't Viable" and writing them off with derision until Election Day, when all is forgiven for 24 hours...

      Doesn't it seem strange that the GOP has more tolerance for unpopular right-wing political ideas than the Democrats have for unpopular left-wing political ideas?
    If you were in person here for me to do so, I would shake your hand and give you a hug for this. THANK YOU!  

    "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

    by lunachickie on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:08:02 PM PDT

  •  The "Left" in this country is self-repressing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, gjohnsit

    It's filled with people who weep and wail and gnash teeth in the off-season and then retreat into "vote for the Democrat" conformity in the election run-ups.

    Nobody wants to join a "Left" that exhibits those behaviors, so no wonder there are so few "Leftists" in America.

    "It's not my fault reality is marxist." - Che Guevara

    by Cassiodorus on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:13:26 PM PDT

  •  I am sorry...I know what you are saying, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    tolerating, or as some here have even said "proudly expressing" you are a communist or socialist is a death knell for the democrats electorally and plays into every scaremongering stereotype the right likes to paint. I would rather see activism take the best ideals out of both those ideologies and repackage them as something we can latch onto and bypass the "I told you they were extreme!" from the right. Out and out embracing (or tolerating, since you didn't use that word, others did) is simply political suicide. There are too many older people, and young, alike that still buy into red scares or China-type examples.

    •  half the reason the left was expunged so (4+ / 0-)

      effectively is that they plead the 5th instead of proudly forcing discussion of what they really believed. They appeared to have something huge to hide, like they were foreign agents or something, rather than that they believed workers should be in charge of things and rich people got  that way by theft - legally sanctioned or not.

      The spectacle was not one of heroic champions wrongly singled out, but of secretive cowards afraid to stand by their beliefs.

      This is not to say that they would have been left alone, but they a least would have made for much more entertaining and informative evening newscasts in those days when everyone was paying attention to the big 3 networks. Bad strategy, IMHO.

      Just like today, disavowing real opposition or speaking truth to power or apologizing or running away from strong statements or firing people because O'Keefe. Pathetic then, pathetic now.

      Where's our FDR proudly proclaiming, "I welcome their hatred"? Crickets is what I hear.

      Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

      by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:49:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, this is exactly how they act... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        p gorden lippy
        They appeared to have something huge to hide
        and why I feel like the right would vilify them. If, as you say, they could bring things out in the open with CLEAR explanations and rationalizations (i.e. "stronger unionization helps workers because x, y, z"), or truth to power as you put it, they perhaps could get some good discussion going but as they act now as if they are trying to slip something in, it won't fly, IMHO.
        •  The Front by Woody Allen was on the other (0+ / 0-)


          Excellent film in that it humanized rather than demonized, a rare event in Hollywood, and one that someone of Allen's stature could pull off. That said, it was very short on leftist ideas and long on pathos and irony.

          Dalton Trumbo, labor leaders, many others were tormented, hounded from their livelihoods, exiled, and almost none spoke up with the truth as they saw it.

          The CIA was deeply involved, too, aling with the FBI. The CIA ran a special school for potential labor leaders, like Walter Reuther of the UAW, that taught them how to spot and eliminate commies from their membership. Once they passed anti-commie muster, they could be trusted to lead unions that would only ask for higher wages and better working conditions and never question that basic economic underpinnings of the whole rotten system.

          Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

          by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:29:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  An excellent example of the Left (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        p gorden lippy, gjohnsit, Alumbrados

        shooting itself in the foot. The root of this debacle was, as in so many other instances, a slavish devotion to ideological "correctness." The official line of the CP with onset of the Cold War was that the US was transitioning to an openly fascist regime. Once this is understood, the stonewalling by "fifth amendment Communists" and "fellow travelers" becomes comprehensible if no less regretable.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:32:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess like many things, it seemed like a good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves

          idea at the time.

          But everyone had just witnessed what happens with a passive response to fascism under the third reich. To follow that up by a passive response to witch hunts was a losing strategy that did nothing for anyone, not for the direct victims of the hunt nor the people whose interests they claimed to support nor their ideals. Instead they looked ashamed of what they believed.

          Like many so-called dems these days. AUMF anyone? Patriot Act? Torture, illegal renditions? Pitiful.

          Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

          by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:45:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well the refusal of the German CP (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            p gorden lippy

            to make common cause with the German SP arguably put Hitler in the catbird's seat. Again, an action based on an the ideological shibboleth "social fascism": the argument that the Socialist Parties were "objectively" fascist.

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:09:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  wow - some Euro leftist history to flesh out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves

              this discussion of the US left. Good stuff. I remember all kinds of accusations and historical finger-pointing and splintering on the "new" left in the '60's. Very depressing stuff driven at the time driven in part by forces beyond our borders.

              Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

              by p gorden lippy on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:19:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  That's not exactly how I remember it (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves

              From what I remember is that the German SP bent over backwards to not offend the fascists.
                The CP, OTOH, was fighting the fascists in the streets right up until the time they were all sent to concentration camps.

              “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

              by gjohnsit on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:26:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you mean that the CP (0+ / 0-)

                had reason to distrust the SP in the wake of their actions during the 1918 revolution, the connivance with the freikorps, the murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht, etc., of course they did. If you're suggesting that the SP was in bed with the Nazis at the time of the seizure of power, you're mistaken. Under the Nazis the SP and the CP both wound up in the same boat.

                The fact is that up until the Hitler's seizure of power the CP in Germany and internationally had taken the line that the Socialist Parties were the main enemy. After the Nazi's came to power this position was dumped in favor of the Popular Front, until it too was dumped with the signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:44:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  What is the 'center' and 'left' if Dems are (0+ / 0-)

    center-right? There are clearly no viable examples in the US if that's your view, so you must be referencing something else either in history or current in another country, if you don't mind specifying.

    I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

    by GoGoGoEverton on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:17:13 PM PDT

    •  I am using the ruler (0+ / 0-)

      of history from the last century and other industrialized nations.

      “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

      by gjohnsit on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:27:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yup, we need more liberal bomb throwers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Otherwise the Overton Window will continue to shift to the right indefinitely. It's already to the point where supposed liberals praise Dolecare, that should say something.

    •  I think the fact that you're more worried (0+ / 0-)

      about moving the Overton Window than voters or bills says a lot about why today's left, as represented on a site like DK, is so utterly adrift, incompetent, and politically impotent: way too much is invested in exerting influence over meta-politics than the inescapably hard work required to institute lasting, effective political change. And a comment like that about healthcare reform makes sense only if we remove practically all political context from its passage through Congress. So how much insight is there, really, into something like the Overton Window to begin with? It's an overly intellectualized buzzword used too often by the left with little real meaning behind it.

  •  Arguably, it goes right back to the Revolution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, goodpractice

    While I think there are a lot of reasons there is not much of a socialist left in America, I think part of the reason goes right back to the American Revolution.  As with any violent revolution based upon abstract political ideas, any ideas which did not accord with the particular revolutionary philosophy were largely  purged from the discourse.  In the case of the Soviet Revolution, for instance, liberal ideas were forced out of the discourse.   In the case of the American Revolution this would be all those Tory ideas about the unity of society and all that.   And many of these Tory ideas about society are also at the root of socialism.

    I don't want to over-state the case - clearly there are American socialists and communists and there always have been - and I am not suggesting the American's are somehow incapable of grasping these ideas.  It is more that the mainstream American political discourse has always been dominated by ideas particularly incompatible with socialism.  

    (While at the same time 'radical' American ideas about democracy played a huge role in the development of a  lot of socialist thought.  For instance radical democrats from America settling in the Canadian West in the first half of the 20th century played a huge role in forming the socialist agrarian left in Canada - which eventually brought us universal health care)

    But anyways, thanks for the excellent diary.  I 100% agree with your overall point, and I don't think it can be repeated enough.

    We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by RageKage on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:25:43 PM PDT

  •  Not to mention that Republicans run as moderates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, 3goldens

    then govern as far right wingers, whereas Democrats run as moderates then govern as conservatives.

  •  You nailed it. (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this diary.

    Most dems I know, even many here, have no idea of the history of the labor movement, the role it played in growing the middle class.

    More than a few centrist folks I know have bought hook, line and sinker into blaming the only strong unions left (teachers, firefighters) for financial issues caused by the oligarchs.

    It's is beyond sad and frustrating.   The saying,  "We must hang together less we hang separately...."  was from Ben Franklin concerning the need for colonists to form a strong union in order to fight the English.  And many union leaders have used that. Sadly, democrats have ignored that.   We have anti union democrats high up in the party (democrats who go along with blaming teachers' unions for the problems in public ed).
    And this current administration has been quite willing to "privatize" lots of public institutions.  So was the Clinton administration.    

    Vulture capitalism will destroy education just as it destroyed unionized industries.  And our democratic leaders will go along with it.

    “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

    by Jjc2006 on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:47:07 PM PDT

    •  Bulls eye. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pgm 01, gjohnsit
      Most dems I know, even many here, have no idea of the history of the labor movement, the role it played in growing the middle class.

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 05:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm as much a believer in the separation of... (0+ / 0-)

    church and state as I am in the separation of corporation and state. Corporatocracy and Theocracy define the Right/Republican Party.
    Capitalism can work...unfettered, free market capitalism won't.

    Glottal fricative and breathy-voiced mid-low central unrounded vowel, repeated, diphthong ending with a high front vowel.

    by glb3 on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:51:11 PM PDT

  •  Just because your extremists were slightly (0+ / 0-)

    better than their extremists doesn't make them any good. And unpopular communist ideas primarily had to do with supporting Stalin and his successors and not with the stuff you're talking about. Communists had nothing to do with social security. That was to a significant extent the progressive movement of early 20th century. One thing communists had going for them was the fact that they were much less racist than the rest of the country. The fact that they existed on KGB subsidies and served as Soviet spies didn't exactly increase their popularity.

    That said, there are plenty of third parties on the left such as Greens and Socialists. Yet they don't look particularly popular.

    •  Sidney Hillman left Russia in 1907 (0+ / 0-)

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 05:42:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  SS (0+ / 0-)
       Communists had nothing to do with social security. That was to a significant extent the progressive movement of early 20th century.
      That's not what conservatives said during the FDR administration. They were right in pointing out that Social Security had been on the communist wishlist for decades.

        So how do you think it made from the communist wishlist to the Democrats wishlist?

      “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

      by gjohnsit on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:35:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Communist party didn't exist until 1920. (0+ / 0-)

        Since it was a part of Socialist party before that, many policies traditionally supported by Socialists were supported by communists as well. But the split was not b/c of these policies and support for them was incidental to the existence of the party. Progressive movement was much more powerful in early 20th century and did a lot more to push the ideas like Social Security (and Prohibition).

  •  the right is greed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    humans can't help themselves.

    even when educated and we know better.


    we are human.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:09:27 PM PDT

  •  We need to re-open the discussion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Roger Fox, gjohnsit

    Communism rose in response to a Capitalism that produced extreme privilege on one hand, for a few, and a meager or no living for the many. Communism was seen as a bold response and many people fought and died because they believed in it.

    Fast forward to today. Communism is in disfavor mostly because it was unsuccessful as a economic system. Stalinism was rejected because it brought about a totalitarian state. Capitalism still has all of its flaws. In fact, one should wonder why we would even entertain the concept of private ownership of the means of production which is wholly contrary to the concept of a society run for the good of its people.

    It's time to re-open the discussion about freedoms, democracy, social democracy and economic democracy. This excellent diary asks the obvious question, why can't the Left be appealing to youth? Why can't it have bold ideas.

    From Wiki (define Radical):

    (esp. of change or action) Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
    A person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform.
    I think that it's time to re-open the discussion and begin with radical ideas.
  •  The country isn't drifting right. The people who (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Roger Fox

    it are racing right at breakneck speed.

    Those who are being ruled have only the slightest ability to influence the course of the Ship of State.

    Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

    by JesseCW on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:25:54 PM PDT

  •  CPUSA does not equal "the left." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, jaywillie

    The bloody and oppressive history of Leninism in power has discredited it.

    Can we talk about alternatives without using the word "communist?" We'll get nowhere if we don't.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here:

    by Kimball Cross on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:29:54 PM PDT

    •  There are all sorts of labels (0+ / 0-)

      The trick is not running away from those labels because the right has applied labels to ideas and said that they are bad.

        I'm not afraid of the word "communism", and to be honest we need some people out there that aren't afraid of it, if only so that it makes the word "socialist" safe again.
         It's sort of the point of this diary.

      “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

      by gjohnsit on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:40:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I reject the premise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Velvele, jaywillie, Aquarius40

    of this diary and the other one cited in the intro.

    First, I feel the country isn't moving right - I feel the "big tent" Obama coalition, despite the moderation and pragmatism that frustrates you, and likely because of it, has captured a working center-left coalition and has done some pretty big things with it, leaving the right further marginalized and setting a good foundation for the future of social-democratic, progressive and liberal ideas.  I feel when you survey people on those ideas individually we can see ranges of Americans from 60-70% claiming fairly liberal, progressive values.  Now if only they would vote, and particularly in mid-terms.

    I feel your diary accurately captures the history of the persecution of the left in the survey part, but misses some crucial points of how some of the leftist groups you identify certainly helped marginalize themselves, among those are some things already mentioned by other commenters, but which I will list again here:

    1.  Ties of certain far left groups to the USSR both idealogically and tactically.  

    2.  The massive - pervasive corruption of the big labor organizations followed by it's failure to properly ingratiate itself with minority populations, other liberal social movements and adapt to changes in the economy.

    3.  The overzealousness of some groups on one hand - revolution, burn this system down, anarchistic..

    4.  The failure to properly assimilate socialistic ideals as something that could be American as opposed to something opposed to "American"

    5.  The "age of aquarius" backlash - may be merged with #3 above.

    6.  And it's polar opposite, the finger-wagging "politically correct" movement of the 90s.

    7.  The complete tactical, political and mental incoherence of both the Iraq war protests and Occupy WS.

    I feel each of these elements, oversimplifed as they are above alienated the mainstream liberal from the left in a way that as you say, doesn't occur on the more shameless and callous right.

    If we say the excesses of each fringe are impossible to defend, the difference is that conservatives don't care to defend but attack, where liberals are only slowly learning this tactic.

    That said, I feel you make a false assumption of ultimate common cause.  I am a pragmatic liberal who is moderate of temperment.  I believe in general social libertarianism, socialized medicine, a tremendous ratcheting down of the police state and military industrial complex.

    But I am not and will never be a communist, it's a system that has failed everywhere it has been tried and has led to massive deprivation and human rights abuses, and it fails both because it fails to account for the way people actual live and want to live and because of it's ultimately inevitable top-down nature reconstructing an even more powerful elite out of the proletariat.

    I'm for free and fair markets, direct democracy, social democracy and a government that invests in it's people and innovaction on one hand, and let's it's people and innovations run wild and free on the other.

    People like me tend to know the Overton window doesn't move in this country by making a meditative circle around it or by throwing rocks at it.  It moves by the hard work of bill by bill, election by election, block by block, heart by heart winning people over to just and right ideas, including those ideas we share with our more radical friends, and refining those ideas to meet new realities as needed and taking our victories where and when we can.  It's a dull beige flag of gradualism and incrementalism but it's armies are way more effective than the radicals in the end.  

    Generally this comment is now turning into a rather ranty diary, so I'll stop.  I think you made some good points but draw the wrong conclusions from them.

    Certain great ideas of the left have been unfairly marginalized along with some of the groups who promoted them.  Those ideas should be resurrected and made relevant for today's generation, because they can result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.  

    Tying them to old words and old battles will not help make that happen, even as I agree with the importance of studying and knowing those words and battles.

    Ultimately libertarianism is incoherent and communism obscelescent, while conservativism is morally and mentally bankrupt.  The progressive present and future belongs to the pragmatic social democrats, and I feel my generation (Gen Whatever :) and the millenials embody that spirit.

  •  Yes we can! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Young people have seen that campaign rhetoric and sound bites can't be trusted, casting doubt on the entire electoral process. They've seen that even so-called Democrats will turn a blind eye to torture and to the surveillance state.

    They don't want out-of-touch social conservatives, and they haven't found "hope" and "change" in Democrats. Eric's diary was very perceptive. With libertarians, you just may get something left of so-called Democrats.

    Personally, I won't be voting libertarian. I'll be sitting out 2016 if there aren't any Democrats running.

    "The stream of commuters heading into the city, the caravan of tractor-trailers pulling out of the rest stop into the dawn’s early light, speak a deep-throated Yes to the sum total of what’s going on in our collective life." (Garret Keizer)

    by Couch Activist on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:48:58 PM PDT

  •  Sidney Hillman & Philip Murray= CIO (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, gjohnsit, goodpractice
    The Great Depression of 1929-1939 strengthened Hillman's belief in the importance of a strong partnership between government and labor. He was named to the Labor Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration in 1933 and to the National Industrial Recovery Board in 1934. Hillman also worked closely with Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins to draft the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    In 1937, Hillman pulled ACWA out of the AFL, joining John L. Lewis and others to found the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). He was elected first vice president of the CIO in 1937.

    In response to sweeping Republican gains in 1942, Hillman was appointed chair of the CIO's new Political Action Committee (PAC). Under his direction, the CIO-PAC mobilized union voters in election districts all across the country and laid the foundation for a powerful political program and infrastructure-one that has endured, in one form or another, to the present day.

    It was to be one of Hillman's final legacies to the labor movement and to the country. In ill health for years, Hillman died in 1946 at his summer home in Point Lookout, Long Island, N.Y.

    Under Hillman the ACWA organized classes to teach political organization, similar to Camp Wellstone and DFA political training today, graduates were then sent out to locals to run those operations, teaching the new union members the same information. Support from the national meant every local union members family ate well, if at all possible, during a strike or hold out during union forming.

    The level of sophistication in the these union organizations was extremely impressive.

    Suggested reading "Labor will Rule" the Sidney Hillman story.

    To understand where labor came from and what it accomplished requires taking a look at the Wisconsin Idea, the LaFolette Brothers in Wisconsin, Edwin Witte who wrote the first unemployment law, the first Workers comp law for Wisconsin, & later wrote the SS law for FDR. Huey
    Long, Sidney Hillman & Philip Murray.

    And that just scratches the surface.

    How did we arrive at this point? Read this dairy and please rec it & share it.

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 02:50:30 PM PDT

  •  This is the best diary I've read here in ages (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I agree with every word

  •  Fixed this for you (0+ / 0-)
    Communist speakers tend to preach about a better future for humanity while never delivering on it and stuffing their own pockets, so much so that conservatives accuse them of being utopians.
    Extreme conservatives talk about being suspicious of anyone who would tell you they have your best interests at heart.
      Communists talk about breaking chains and freedom through submission to the state.
     Extreme conservatives talk about self reliance and personal responsibility.
    You're welcome!
    •  Extreme conservatives (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..want to get all up in your private parts and fantasize about male fetal masturbation when they're not playing with their plastic and steel bang-bang phallic replacements.

      Fixed it for you!

      ..and they're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.

      by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:12:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At least you aren't hiding who you are (0+ / 0-)

      And you aren't calling names.

      I respect that.
          But I don't respect that you actually still believe what you wrote above. I would think that even Republicans would be starting to get wise to the game by now.

      “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

      by gjohnsit on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:48:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll take a moderate Dem over a GOoPer any day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, Aquarius40

    At least the Dems are sheep in sheep's clothing.

    Everyone is crying out for peace; no one's crying out for justice...

    by mojave mike on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:18:41 PM PDT

    •  I would vote for the Republican. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I already know how and when the knife is coming with Republicans, with moderate Democrats they like to stick it your back when you least expect it.  That makes it far easier to fend off a Republican attack over one from somebody who is supposedly in the same party as you.

  •  so tired of reading analysis like this with no (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Aquarius40

    mention of right wing radio.

    nothing in recent history has done more to move the center right than the left giving RW radio a free speech free ride. considering the time lost on global warming it is the biggest political blunder in history.

    1200 or so radio stations blasting the country all day long, reaching 50 mil a week- a 24/7 ad for the extreme right, doing the groundwork repetition for everything they want to do, creating an alternate reality, creating made-to-order pro corporate constituencies to enable their idiot sycophants and talking heads, creating their own conventional wisdom and facts, and the left has no challenge for it.

    it's useless to analyze our political history without factoring in talk radio's invisible dominance the last 25 years.

    here's my response to stetson's diary:


    your sister's a whore and your brother's a traitor!

    screamed the RW radio carnival barkers about liberals from every corner and stump in the country while liberals of all ages walked by with their iPods in theirears.

    RW radio working great!! kicking liberal ass for 25 years straight!!

    obama's inability to make liberal progress is directly proportional to that liberal ignore-ance of the cons best weapon.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:33:15 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (4+ / 0-)

    In recent history, the McGovern trouncing by Nixon is used all the time to justify Democratic Centrism. But I really don't think its about Left/Right ideology any more. We are in Shadow Government territory with several undemocratic power blocks to whom the politicians are in thrall to. I honestly don't think elections are a viable means of changing this mess now.

    The cave, the Matrix, America.

    by Grassee on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 03:42:03 PM PDT

  •  It's the media... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    certainot, Aquarius40, goodpractice

    I pulled this quote from the diary...

    "The right-wing, OTOH, has cultivated its extremists until they now threaten to dominate the political spectrum."

    The extreme right does NOT dominate the political spectrum so much as they dominate the RADIO spectrum!  Talk radio, corporate news media, and media consolidation have been the driving factors in the shift rightward of our political discourse.  

    Corporatism in general, and right-leaning corporate overlords in particular such as Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel's talk-radio owners, the Mays family, have promoted and given platforms to extreme right wing rhetoric and propaganda, without a hint of balance from the progressive or extreme left.  

    It's in corporate media's interest that the populace be ill-informed, right-leaning, and deregulatory in sentiment.  By shaping minds this way, the media affects who runs for political office, who can raise money, and outcomes of elections.  This determines Washington policies that are tax-friendly and deregulatory, just the way the corporate interests prefer it to be.  

    Our drift to the right does coincide with the destruction of the labor unions and the squelching of debate from the far left of the political spectrum, but that is more an outgrowth of the corporate takeover of our government.  Our corporatocracy has changed the debate  in this country, and turned the populace into unwitting accomplices in their never-ending quest to maximize profits.  

    It is as the corporate media wants it, and only the Internet and fostering understanding of the mass brainwashing of the US citizenry will allow it to one day change.  In the meantime, the rightward shift continues, and income and wealth inequality gets worse.  The "better world" that the diarist referenced as a long-ago goal of socialism is happening for an elite few while the rest struggle but are satiated by iPhones, American Idol, and junk food at McDonald's.  American society has been dumbed down and quality of life degraded, but as long as the people's stomachs are full and the airwaves are full of right-wing propaganda sponsored by the corporate media, nothing will change.

  •  Our "drift" to the right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nice Ogre, Aquarius40

    may have been accelerated mid-century, but the potential has always been there.  We are a nation that has always valued individual freedom over the common good, and it shows more and more with each passing year.  It's written into the Declaration and the Constitution, unlike other places, which describe 'human dignity" in only the most general terms.  Our government is set up to support the supremacy of the individual over the collective.  Such a mindset, as has been often suggested, is in the American DNA.  Those with the courage, optimism and sheer force of will to make the journey to get here in first place against incredible odds founded this nation (or at least the first part of it), and we are their heirs.  I think perhaps all the folks from Europe that had such personality traits came here centuries ago, and therefore that "rugged individualism" is considerably lessened over there.  Than again, rugged individualism is a great thing when founding a new republic, not so much when trying to sustain one...

  •  As always and we always seem to forget (0+ / 0-)

    Follow the money!

    "The number of Americans who are millionaires is pretty low — about 1 percent of the population. Members of Congress who are millionaires? Nearly 50 percent.

    That's according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks money in politics.

    Of the 435 members of the House, "244 current members of Congress are millionaires — that's about 46 percent and that includes 138 Republicans and 106 Democrats," says Center for Responsive Politics spokesman Michael Beckel.

    This is from an article by Andrea Seabrook from two years ago. I can only imagine this has only gotten worse since then.

    It is a rare Democrat or person who votes against their money or the money that got them elected. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry come to mind on that short list, and there are probably examples to prove me wrong for these two.

    Voting is the only tool we have left and if we do not use it wisely we will continue to slide to the right.

  •  Recommending for the discussion (0+ / 0-)

    If only all diary responses were like this.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 05:42:59 PM PDT

  •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

    Easy. One side is willing to lie.  And a "press" that allows it to occur.

    When Fox, Rush, Hannity, and Beck were allowed at the table as legitimate media, we lost the battle.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:08:17 PM PDT

  •  The Overton Window (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gjohnsit, CanyonWren, goodpractice

    You have stumbled onto what conservative strategists call the Overton Window. The Overton Window are the set of policies that the public sees as possible. According to conservative strategists, you can shift the country to the right if you push conservatism as far as it can. That means allowing the most extreme conservates a large voice in the public debate. When liberals move to the center in order to capture the middle of the electorate, they inadvertantly shift the country to the right because the public, by not hearing a liberal message, believes that liberal policies are no longer possible.  Thus, liberal positions go out of view of the Overton Window. Also, the less extreme conservative positions appear to become the centrist positions. According to this theory, in the short run, Democrats might win elections, but in the long run Republicans win by shifting the country to the right.

    I tend to agree with this theory. Democratic Party strategists tend to believe in the Median Voter Theorem while Republicans believe in Dynamic Optimization Theory.

    On the other hand, it may just be in American tradition and culture to reject far left theories. This has to do with our frontier heritage. In America, the far right has always outnumbered the far left. But if I were a Democratic Party strategist, I would allow the far left to have a voice in the public debate.

    •  I've never seen a far left opinion in the news. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And, the corporate overlords keep it that way. They don't want that view to be heard because it represents kindness, compassion, fairness, anti-corporate control, civil liberties, a healthy environment.  Just imagine if those values were heard by the masses on a regular basis--oh, the calamity! The social order would be upended.  Instead, it's the constant drumbeat of war, hyper-masculinity, authoritarian values, and fear that we are barragged with, which further shifts the Overton Window to the right.

      "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

      by CanyonWren on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 06:24:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Right Wing is dying (0+ / 0-)

    Never before in my 46 years, has our party been so strong, the youth vote is up, and ALL the kids today will vote for the democrat, long before the eve think of voting GOP, th stock market is at record high never before seen, unemployment is down, ( though I am still without a job after 14 months) poverty is down, welfare is down, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, Americans are coming home in planes not body bags. Guantanamo has been closed, President Obama has kept each and everyone of his promises, when has a president ever done that, even Bill Clinton didn't do that well. The Democratic Party is alive and well.  

  •  I believe it was Harry Truman who said that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans, when given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, tend to choose the real thing.

    That's as good a heuristic as exists in American politics.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:48:55 PM PDT

  •  The dark ages did happen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  We need to compress the story of America from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Gilded Aga through the New Deal and tell it, well.

    Fitting progressive policy into that narrative could be powerful stuff.

    It also could be instructive on tactics and strategy.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 01:31:02 AM PDT

  •  In a word: Propaganda (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The right-wing agit-prop machine has been incredibly successful at creating a bogus discourse in which any preposterous, superstitious or paranoid statement is taken at face value and parroted ad infinitem . . . while a servile Fourth Estate presents these absurd points of view as totally credible.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 02:26:08 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for linking Eric's diary. I hadn't seen it (0+ / 0-)

    but have been concerned for many of the same reasons. We're giving Paul the opportunity to build the largest coalition simply by trying to be "to cute by half" in playing politics. If we stand for our beliefs the nutjobs like him don't stand a chance.

  •  Outstanding history and an excellent (0+ / 0-)

    point, gjohnsit.

    Thanks so much for this diary.  

    "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

    by Yasuragi on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 05:24:51 AM PDT

  •  I parked next to a pickup yesterday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with this bumper sticker on it:

    Obama and Liberals
                         Traitors to America
      Where is the push back?
       I stopped to talk to some LaRouchePAC people who had set up in front of, ...wait for it... the local Post Office to offer their advice on how to "fix America." They were not shy at all about wanting to impeach the President, although they could or would not give a concrete example of a legal justification.
      I wished them well as I left, despite having been dismissed as an "idiot" for not being, well, like them.
      They got a lot of honks by passers-by for their posters of Obama with an Adolph stache, but all I got when I objected to their conflation of Obama with Hitler was, "Hitler took people's guns, too!"
      I don't see anything appealing in the dire necro-prophecy of the ultra-right. But I can imagine it becoming a roost for a lot of unhappy consumers.
  •  Excellent post, gjohnsit. This nails it: (0+ / 0-)
    Liberals have been engaged in a fighting retreat against the forces of conservatism for so long that the idea of taking the fight to the enemy isn't even considered anymore.
       There is a reason for that: the extremists are always the most vocal and aggressive.
    That's the central quality of authoritarians: they intimidate and  coerce to get what they want. Liberal personalities are repulsed by that, in general.

    It is interesting that within the Navajo culture, (perhaps most Native American cultures?) they consider coersion to be the biggest evil--the idea that forcing someone to do what you want them to do is the lowest form of relating.  Coersion encompasses many crimes- rape, for example; but even subtle coersion is considered bad form and something to resist vigorously.  

    "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowden -6.62, -6.92

    by CanyonWren on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 06:18:05 AM PDT

  •  Liberals and the CP (0+ / 0-)

    I believe this post over emphasizes the role of the American Communists in the progressive movement as a whole. While there were many wonderful communists who did great things, the party as a whole exercised a negative effect, since it made American leftists toe the Moscow line.  While they were viciously attacked be the media, congressional committees, etc, they also never really won the hearts of the American working class.  
           In any case, so far as I am concerned, income inequality and unemployment are THE POLITICAL  issues today.

  •  Questions: (snark) (0+ / 0-)
    You wouldn't want a Republican pushing Free Trade Anti-Working Class Deals, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican pushing renewal of the odious Patriot Act, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican pushing through the Trans Pacific Partnership, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican maintaining secret kill lists, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican selecting Three different Banksters as his Chief of Staff, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican appointing a bankster (Jack Lew) to be Treasury Secretary, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican publicly defending & praising Wall Street Predators, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican Department of Justice proudly proclaiming it can't do anything to Wall Street Predators because of National Security, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican publicly calling for cuts to Social Security (to save it), would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican forming an anti-working class Deficit Commission, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican advancing the ludicrous meme of "Shared Sacrifice" (cause, ya know, the working class just hasn't sacrificed enough the past 30 yrs), would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican Homeland Security coordinating a national crackdown against the Occupy Movement, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican saying "Corporate Taxes Are Too High", would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican pushing for the Pipeline XL project, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican going after whistle blowers, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican helping to destroy public education via Race To The Top, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican passing Healthcare "Reform" based on the 90's Policy Paper from the Heritage Foundation, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican cheer-leading our getting more involved in Syria, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican saber-rattling regarding Iran, would you?

    You wouldn't want a Republican trying to destroy WikiLeaks, would you?

    Of course not.  Cause those policies / actions above are  magically better when done under the guise of "lesser of two evils".

    I imagine the 1% don't really give a shit who does them though.  D or R, the policies / results are the same...

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 08:27:19 AM PDT

  •  interesting read (0+ / 0-)

    the original diary and all the comments are certainly a history lesson.

    I grew up in a family of coal miners who moved north.
    They were all rabid unionists.  My dinner table conversations were centered on the stories of the bad old days  And trust me they were really BAD.  

    That's the problem today,  the BAD old days of those alive today don't even come close.  Unless you are an immigrant from some war torn nation where you lived in a tent, dodged bombs, and existed on UN rations, nothing in our experience can even come close.  The right points to this false comparison and adds how bad can it be? our poor enjoy refrigerators, tv, even air conditioning.  how can you complain? how DARE you complain!

    And since it's not "that bad", and thanks to modern inventions and technology there are few visible dangerous manual labor jobs. of course they still exist. but no one wants their kids to do them. and label those who do as either lazy and uneducated or heros.  figure that one out!

    We have become a nation of mental workers, and not manual fighters. we post comments of our dissatisfaction. We want someone to do the heavy lifting for us, while we write a check. most of us would never put our lives on the line for a "cause", no matter how noble. Witness those who join the all volunteer military?  Think we would be this complacent if the draft existed?  (reason enough to reinstate it)

    until the masses have nothing left to lose there will be no uprising.  until the masses have no way to live, they will not challenge their place.  Instead, they will not marry, or have babies - as we are seeing already.

    While we whine to each other, that's about all we do. There is no one who has stepped up or been pushed up to lead the fight. (mostly because they usually wind up dead)
    And every possibe leader is not the saint the right would not tear to shreds, and would not embarrass those on the left too afraid to defend a flawed human being.

    All the arguments for abandoning our "center-right" status are valid.  But the dollars wasted during the election process is just another dollar not spent validating diebold et al voting machines. a dollar not spent on a legal challenge to voter suppression.  a dollar wasted not spent re-framing issues from the liberal/progressive alternatives.  we allow the right to define words, limit expectations, and criminalize disagreement, much less exposure of sins.

    I'm afraid it's going to have to get a whole lot worse before we can even hope for better.  we're going to take a lot more steps backwards before we find the fire to take a step forward.  

    label me cynical, defeatest. i am.

  •  One thing that communism got right... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it was an international movement. It promoted a strategy of international solidarity and cooperation -- a unified vision -- that made it possible for members everywhere to feel united and powerful. Even those members who lived in countries that persecuted them.

    Communism provided a way to transcend national boundaries, and thus to effectively oppose various national power structures.

    I think today's Left would do well to emulate that aspect of Communism -- though not to adhere rigidly to Marxist doctrine, which has proven to be problematic.

    The biggest enemies of the Left today are not governments, but mega-corporations that operate globally, and that pledge fealty to no particular nation. If we are to be successful in combat with them, we will need to likewise expand our field of influence beyond national borders.

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