Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Center-Right Nation?

One idea I've been hearing ad nauseum from media yakkers is the idea that America is a "center right nation" (a couple of examples can be found here, including from the loathsome Karl Rove).
We are, I suppose, a center right country when compared to Western Europe, but this is already much discussed. I don't think any politician would confuse the United States with Sweden, though the more astute observer might note that Sweden provides a greater degree of economic security to it's people without sacrificing prosperity.
This is not, I think, what the pundits mean when they say we are a center-right nation. Americans agree more with the sort of policies espoused by moderate conservative candidates. This is clearly untrue. Even before Obama routed John McCain, it was clear majorities of Americans agree with Democratic positions. Generally, Republicans lose on issues but when on flim-flam. As Paul Krugman notes of the most recent presidential race.
[B]ear in mind that the campaign, in its final stages, was really about different philosophies of governing. This wasn’t like the 2004 campaign, which was essentially fought over fake issues — Bush running on national security and social issues, then claiming that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security. In this election, Obama proudly stood up for progressive values and the superiority of progressive policies; John McCain, in return, denounced him as a socialist, a redistributor. And the American people rendered their verdict.

It is amusing, I guess, to see the same people who labeled Obama as a socialist now claiming he only won because of his moderate policies. This does indicate one thing though: the center-right thesis is worthless because it is not falsifiable. The proponents of this idea still cling to it even as the country votes in the moderate left. It's become a feel-good fantasy for those who can't accept the progressive path this country is headed.

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