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Beware: Huge Media Companies Are Selling Corporate Ideology as the 'New American Center'

Esquire and NBC News are pushing a new political demographic that just so happens to be in sync with the priorities of the 1 percent.

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Even a “bleeding heart” like me wouldn’t go for that.

The Center and I

Which brings us back to my experience with the online test. Was I really on the leftmost periphery of American public opinion. And “un-persuadable” not worthy of attention? I have no problem being on the leftist vanguard, but in this case it seemed hard to believe. After all, those Lake Research findings showed that 82% of Republicans agreed with me on Social Security, just one of many policy areas in which my own economic views seem to reflect the mainstream. Others include taxing the wealthy, doing more to fight poverty, repairing our crumbling infrastructure, taxing corporations at a higher rate, and having the government do more to create jobs.

We don’t seem that different, the Center and I. “The Center doesn’t think of itself as the ‘center,’” we’re told. Same here.

“The Center doesn’t much like how things are going,” say the editors at Esquire. Well, I’m not too thrilled either.

The chimerical “Center” and I would both like to see guns brought under control, and neither of us is thrilled about the role religious institutions are playing in politics. When it comes to the right to choose, the right to choose partners, or the right to burn one down at the end of a hard work day, we pretty much feel the same way: it’s none of our business.

Off-Center

More credible polls suggest that a new economic consensus is forming in this country, one that isn’t very accommodating toward the ideology reflected in this survey. But this new “center” has been divided by social issues. It has been excluded from political decision-making by a Beltway worldview that ignores their needs and their preferences. It’s been stymied by the kind of clichéd thinking which slices up the American people into demographic groups like “Bleeding Hearts” or “Pickup Populists.”

There are nuggets of good data here. It’s helpful to be reminded that Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future, although that’s not a new finding. It was interesting to see confirmation of a growing populism in the white working-class, and to be reminded that it has stayed aloof from Democrats over social issues. That’s not new information either, but it’s useful for activists and politicians.

It’s time to stop searching for a nonexistent center and start reflecting the needs of a very real majority instead. That majority is inadequately represented in Washington, which is a failure of our democracy. Rather than spin or justify that failure, it’s time for even the most insider-ish analysts and journalists to report the unvarnished truth. Even their clients will eventually thank them for it.

In the words of Esquire’s editors, journalists and advisors “better be substantive” and “leave their hobbyhorses at home.” Sorry to say, this study fails on both counts.

If a “bleeding heart” won’t tell you, who will?

RJ Eskow is a senior fellow with the Campaign for America's Future.

 
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