The Blue Dogs Got It Wrong: Change Never Comes From The Center

Election '16

Oh how cute! The Blue Dogs are starting to realize that their brand might be getting a little tarnished, so they're remaking themselves. Behold: The "Blue Dog Research Forum" is now...Center Forward.

They have the following quote prominently displayed on their site:

America is neither right nor left. Republican nor Democrat. Red nor blue. The solutions that will move us forward come from where they always have – the center.

Most political agendas engage in a level of historical revisionism, but this one takes some serious chutzpah. The level of blind mythmaking in this comically inaccurate statement is breathtaking.

It was radical revolutionaries who helped birth this nation and free it from the British crown. It was centrists who urged on the disastrous compromises on slavery prior to the Civil War, including and especially the Compromise of 1850. It was Centrists who encouraged Lincoln to simply allow the South to secede. It was Lincoln who took the radical step of insisting on fighting the war and emancipating the slaves.

Social Security and the New Deal were not centrist legislation, nor was much of anything FDR did centrist. The one major "centrist" move FDR made to appease the Blue Dogs of his day was theattempt to close the deficit in 1937, and it was a disaster.

It was radicals who earned women the right to vote, radicals like Rosa Parks who helped end Jim Crow and segregation, radicals who earned 18-year-olds the right to vote, and radicals who pushed through Medicare. And today, it is radicals who have fought and clawed their way to allow LGBT Americans to live relatively openly and share in most of the same civil rights as their fellow straight Americans.

On the conservative side of the aisle, it was not the Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans who were responsible for the movement that begat Ronald Reagan, but rather the insurgent and radical conservatives of the Goldwater stripe. As a progressive, I view the Reagan ascendancy as a very negative thing, but insofar as any of the Reagan mythology is to be believed, it wasn't centrists who created him, but conservative revolutionaries.

On the Affordable Care Act, it was centrists like Baucus and Nelson who delayed and stalled the passage of the bill, demanding bribes in exchange for their votes and attempting futilely to earn the support of even of a few Republicans even as the nature of the bill shifted further and further to the right.

In fact, centrists have almost never helped create the solutions that have moved us forward in our nation's history. They have either been irrelevant, or actively harmful. There is nothing honorable or noble about the centrist position in American politics, partly because the system is intrinsically so resistant to change and easily corruptible that radicals are the only ones who are ever able to move things in any direction except in favor of moneyed interests.

Which leads us to the first issue listed in the Center Forward Solution Center: opposition to greater taxes on the wealthy.

Politicians often cite the fact that Warren Buffet’s secretary pays a lower effective tax rate than he does as Exhibit A on why the tax code is unfair. But as our economy claws its way back from a recession does it make sense to target one particular group of taxpayers with a tax increase? In this series, we examine opinions from the center left and right on how we can make our tax code fairer without impeding economic growth.

Hmmmm...I wonder where the center of American public opinion is on this question. Oh, right:

Americans favor raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for President Barack Obama’s proposed jobs plan by a margin of two-to-one, a new Gallup poll Wednesday says.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they backed increasing income taxes on individuals earning over $200,000 and families earning at least $250,000, while only 32 percent were opposed.

An even greater majority thought that taxes should be raised on corporations, with 70 percent of respondents favoring hiking taxes on corporations by eliminating tax deductions and 26 percent were opposed.

Centrism, ladies and gentlemen. It has little to with what the American people want or need, or with the solutions that make sense and have worked in the past. It has everything to do with what the narrow band of people who happen to fall in between the modern Democratic and Republicans political parties happen to think Americans deserve. And it's just an amazing coincidence that it happens to align with the interests of the nation's most well-off.

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