Friday, December 17, 2010

No Labels?

I'm suspicious of any "centrist" movement that is promoted on the Huffington Post. This was true for Jon Stewart's Return to Sanity Rally and it is also true for the new "No Labels" movement. This wariness was enforced by an E, J. Dionne column. Dionne is no centrist. He is a proud liberal. So why is he promoting a movement that claims to be apolitical? The obvious answer is that it is not what it claims to be.

The No Labels group was founded by some Democratic consultants. Most of the people they have attracted have also been left-of-center. The few Republicans associated with them were all defeated in the primaries for being RINOs (Republican in Name Only).

Dionne comforts us that the country has already moved to the right:

The basic difficulty arises from a false equivalence they make between our current "left" and our current "right." The truth is that the American right is much farther from anything that can fairly be described as "the center" than is the left.

Indeed, there is no far left to speak of anymore. Even among socialists - I'm talking about real ones - almost all now acknowledge the benefits of markets, no longer propose state ownership of the means of production, and accept the inevitability of inequalities in wealth and income. What they oppose is the rise of extreme inequalities that are antithetical to both a healthy democracy and a healthy market economy.

I'm glad to know that the socialists have finally given up but I'd like to know when they had this epiphany? Just a couple of years ago they wanted President Obama to nationalize the banks.

In the meantime, large parts of the right have moved to positions that Ronald Reagan didn't dare take, or abandoned in the name of realism: voucherizing Medicare, partially privatizing Social Security, insisting that the New Deal represented an unconstitutional power grab, and eviscerating inheritance taxes and progressive income taxes.

All of these ideas have been floating around Libertarian circles since I first learned about them, back during the Reagan administration. True, Reagan didn't try any of them. By the same token, a large percentage of the Left really, really wanted British-style socialized medicine but settled for what they could accomplish. They are still complaining about it. Does that move the country back to the left?

At its heart the message of the No Labels people is, "Stop your partisan bickering and admit that we are right!" That isn't a new message, just a rebranded one.

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