Parochial Political Movements Do Not a Revolution Make

When one digs down deep enough – not that deep really – or “simply” casts off the veil of propaganda and life-long conditioning, one finds the political center and the public center to be occupying opposite poles. The problem confronting us is that few are eager to dig, and the veil is more like Linus’ comforting security blanket, or an abiding addiction. Making it simple for others to cast off their deep seeded and paralyzing conceits won’t just happen. Finding the right and unifying language, devising strategies and following up on them demands focus and commitment. So let’s…


The Perennially “Unusual” Yet Somehow Ubiquitous Left-Right Alliance: Towards Acknowledging an Anti-Establishment Center

by Sam Husseini

The AP reports: “The House narrowly rejected a challenge to the National Security Agency’s secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records Wednesday night after a fierce debate … The vote was 217-205 on an issue that created unusual political coalitions in Washington, with libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberal Democrats pressing for the change against the Obama administration [and] the Republican establishment…” The New York Times writes “disagreements over the program led to some unusual coalitions.” Similarly, NBC opined the “amendment earned fierce opposition from an unusual set of allies, ranging from the Obama administration to the conservative Heritage Foundation.” [Emphasis added throughout.]

And, when the NSA story broke, the Washington Post Express headline [June 11, 2013] read: “Recent revelations have given even the most ardent political foes a common target: government overreach.” AP wrote of the “odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right” [June 12, 2013] with the Edward Snowden revelations making “strange bedfellows.” [New York Daily News, June 11, 2013]
Every time you have this convergence of progressives and conservatives against the establishment, it’s regarded as “unusual” “odd” or “bizarre”  — even though it keeps coming up on issue after issue: war, military spending, trade, corporate power, Wall Street, fossil fuel subsidies, as well as — in the case of the NSA spying on the citizenry — the central issue of Constitutional rights and civil liberties. 
As documented below, the meme in the media and elsewhere is a permanent note of surprise, when it should be an established aspect of U.S. politics: There are in fact two “centers” — one that is pro-war and Wall Street (the establishment center) — and another that is pro-peace and populist (the anti-establishment center).

The establishment keeps the left and right populist factions at bay by demonizing them to each other — “let’s you and him fight” is the mindset — which is why MSNBC so often feeds hate of conservatives and Fox feeds hate of progressives. If they were to pay more attention to issues, they might break them down and it might become clear that there’s quite a bit the principled left and right agree on. Meanwhile, establishment Democrats and Republicans collude on war, Wall Street and much else, effectively reducing principled progressives and conscientious conservatives into pawns of the Democratic and Republican party establishments.

A left-right alliance is extremely threatening to the establishment. Rep. King recently bemoaned about the NSA scandal: “too many Republicans and conservatives have become Michael Moores.” Similarly, former Iraq war military spokesperson Dan Senor triumphantly declared: “I think this further strengthens the center on national security. I think there was a real risk over the last couple weeks that there would be this left/right coalition that would backlash against the United States government…” Sen. Lindsey Graham commented back in 2010: “You know what I worry most about: an unholy alliance between the right and the left.” Dan Quayle in 1990 as George H. W. Bush, who Obama recently honored, was driving the nation to war attacked the “McGovern-Buchanan axis.

A major way the establishment keeps principled progressives and conscientious conservatives hating instead of dialoguing is by not acknowledging all they have in common — and when it is acknowledged, treat is as a freak instance.

Certainly, there are disagreements, but the agreements should not be dismissed or minimized. And both should be talked out by the parties in a real fashion. Each shouldn’t be caricatured by an establishment hell-bent on preventing a meaningful dialogue from taking place.

The major media tends to stress the differences between the establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans, sometimes this results in inflating minor issues or marginalizing major issues, or taking serious schisms and tossing them down the memory hole.

During the last presidential election, both President Obama and Gov. Romney talk constantly about “jobs” — but both backed the secret TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] deal that threatens jobs, and is opposed by much of their electoral base. And, critically, the issue got minimal coverage. The convergence of progressives and conservatives that initially voted down the Wall Street bailout of 2008 has been largely forgotten.
A real dialogue between the the left and right may lead to a sort of political re-alignment. As I suggest at it could become the basis for a voting strategy, with disenchanted Democrats and disenchanted Republicans pairing up and voting for the anti-establishment candidates they most want in twos rather than being separated and eternally trapped voting for their “lesser evil”. At minimum, experimenting with such approaches would likely lead to a healthier political culture and grant the bases of each establishment political party a way to assert themselves against the elites.
Perhaps the formation of an organization is overdue: The Center for a New Center. That might cure the political culture and media from its insistence that there’s something perennially unusual that keeps happening…:
The following are topics Sam Husseini touches on, briefly, in his article:

War and Military Spending:
Civil Liberties:
Wall Street and Taxes:
Environment/Fossil Fuel Subsidies:
Big Business Control of Media:
  • Liberius Cato

    There are basically two ideologies at work in this country right now. One wants the government to be able to do whatever those in charge want it to do. The other doesn’t want that at all. Left and Right don’t have as much meaning as they used to. You’re either for Liberty, for the Nanny State, or still blinded by and swept up in the rhetoric of “both sides”, who are both advancing different parts of the Nanny State at different rates.

  • kokanee

    Great article! McMurphy’s preamble is classic as well:

    When one digs down deep enough – not that deep really – or “simply” casts off the veil of propaganda and life-long conditioning, one finds the political center and the public center to be occupying opposite poles.

    It’s important that the House of Representatives not be led into de facto irrelevancy, I would like to give the House congressmen and women two powers:
    1) Any congressman or woman can table a bill for vote if they have 25% of the House members who have signed it.
    2) All House congressmen get full top security clearance.