Peter Daou has an uncharacteristically short, yet characteristically good post on why he thinks the rightwing dominates our national debate. The short version: because “Democrats run away from the left.” Daou writes:
Forget the thousand explanations pundits have offered for the administration’s beef with the left; this is the single biggest reason the left is furious with Obama: that one by one, he has willingly and unnecessarily bargained away the progressive positions that would move the national debate back to the center. After all, the counterweight to the right is not the mushy middle, it’s the principled left. Did progressive bloggers really think Obama was going to establish a single payer health care system, bring all Bush warmongers to justice, stop the looting of the poor by the ultra-rich, revitalize the environmental movement, undo Bush-Cheney’s executive power excesses, bring about true social justice and stop needless wars? No. They’re far more jaded and pragmatic than anyone admits. But at least make those the debate points rather than ditch them unilaterally.
As I’ve argued, it matters not one iota if Obama is a progressive at heart. What matters is that Democrats run away from the left like it’s the plague while Republican run to the right like it’s nirvana. The net effect is that the media end up reporting far right positions as though they were mainstream and reporting liberal positions as thought they were heinous aberrations. And you wonder why America is veering off the rails? [Emphasis added]
I find any sort of efforts to describe disappointment or anger progressives feel in unitary terms tend to fail. The reasons progressives are disappointed are manifold. But Daou does find a common thread that certainly is a large contributing factor to progressive discontent. Of course the key here, and Daou is right to make it, is that the problem does extend beyond the administration and is common to Democrats around the country (see all the cowardice around Park51 for a recent example). What’s most frustrating, as Daou notes, is that the result of systemic unwillingness to embrace the left by Democrats is that it sets up the Overton Window in a heavily rightward frame, so the public is not hearing liberal positions from Democrats nor from the press. It’s a dynamic that leads to long-term failure for Democrats politically and from a policy standpoint.