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Tags abortion , democratic party , gay rights , gun control , trade agreements , transgendered rights

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Old 16th February 2018, 05:19 PM   #1
Travis
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Has the Democratic Party really drifted to the right?

I asked in another thread if the Democratic Party has actually been drifting to the right as many have alleged. Not really wanting a derail I figured we could discuss that here.

Is the current Democratic Party to the right on its policy positions from the 80's/90's?

Personally I think they largely are to the left of where they were then. Back then proposing universal healthcare in either party was political suicide but now numerous Democrats openly advocate for it. Back then no one from either party would ever openly support gay marriage. It is now the law of the land and the Democrats make defending it a core part of their identity. Same with transgendered rights. They still feel massive infrastructure spending is necessary. They still are pro gun control. They still fight to keep abortion legal. They still advocate for unions.

So...are they really further right?
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Old 16th February 2018, 05:46 PM   #2
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Quoting myself from the other thread:

Quote:
The one thing I have heard is Clinton shifted the Dems to the right on trade policy and economic globalism and Free Trade. NAFTA and TPP remain unpopular with the far left (also unpopular with the far right).

That's more a centrist policy, the edges of both parties oppose such things.

Also, it barely fits your timeline, and this became Dem policy in the mid/early 1990's - but remains a contentious issue.

I think Clinton also shifted the window right on some other economic issues, including some arcane regulatory issues that affect banks and stock trading and the way large businesses can structure their assets. Stuff I don't personally understand, but the far left seems to think it contributed towards the consolidation of wealth and power into a smaller group of people and large companies.
I don't have a lot of certainty on that. I mean I have heard people say that the Dems shifted right on some of those issues, but I don't know enough to know if those claims are accurate.
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Old 16th February 2018, 06:12 PM   #3
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They are certainly far to the right of where I saw them 50 years ago -- but it's not the party that changed, it's me.
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Old 16th February 2018, 06:36 PM   #4
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The entire electorate has shifted to the left on social issues. There's no question about it: same sex marriage, marijuana legalization, pornography, divorce, stem-cell research, and so on. The only clear success that comes to mind for conservatives are firearms. We'll see how they do when it comes to changing attitudes on immigration (commenters recently remarked that Bill Clinton's SOTU address sounded like Donald Trump). They might occasionally gain ground on abortion (but more Americans are pro-choice than pro-life), and they've been politically successful at frustrating action on climate change, but not convincing ordinary people.

So, yes, the Democratic Party has drifted left on social issues (Bill Clinton was a "new" kind of "tough on crime" Democrat). On economic issues, there's more divergence between elites and the rank-and-file, especially when it comes to global economic integration. Hillary Clinton would have been all in favor TPP if not for Sanders and Trump.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:24 PM   #5
Travis
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Personally I feel that free trade is in line with liberal values.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:28 PM   #6
BobTheCoward
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
Personally I feel that free trade is in line with liberal values.
That is kind of where liberal and left have a bit of a divergence. Leftist politics is not often for free trade.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:34 PM   #7
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Yes it is further to the right. Back then candidates like Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, etc would be considered regular worker's party Democrats.

Neoliberalism is too incremental, too out of touch with regular Americans.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:44 PM   #8
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Let's not forget Obama did not get us out of our hundred-years war and Clinton wasn't likely to either.
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Old 16th February 2018, 09:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
Is the current Democratic Party to the right on its policy positions from the 80's/90's?
By policy positions, do you mean rhetoric, or actual policy? The pattern I see is Democrats saying they want something far to the left, but when they step up to the plate they don't even bother proposing anything left of center. Meanwhile the GOP talks crazy, proposes crazy, and needs to be walked back to sanity each and every time, resulting in "compromises" that are pretty far to the right.

Take DACA. It's a popular program. No one actually dislikes it. A straight path to citizenship should be acceptable to both parties. Yet still the "bipartisan" bill the Democrats managed to come up with traded Trump's wall for it, except the funding would happen over a decade instead of all at once and that's their big win. And that still wasn't far enough to the right to pass.
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Old 17th February 2018, 02:10 AM   #10
Travis
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Originally Posted by IIIClovisIII View Post
Yes it is further to the right. Back then candidates like Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, etc would be considered regular worker's party Democrats.

Neoliberalism is too incremental, too out of touch with regular Americans.
On what issues?

Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
By policy positions, do you mean rhetoric, or actual policy? The pattern I see is Democrats saying they want something far to the left, but when they step up to the plate they don't even bother proposing anything left of center. Meanwhile the GOP talks crazy, proposes crazy, and needs to be walked back to sanity each and every time, resulting in "compromises" that are pretty far to the right.

Take DACA. It's a popular program. No one actually dislikes it. A straight path to citizenship should be acceptable to both parties. Yet still the "bipartisan" bill the Democrats managed to come up with traded Trump's wall for it, except the funding would happen over a decade instead of all at once and that's their big win. And that still wasn't far enough to the right to pass.
However DACA itself was a leftward trend. The Democrats of the 90's would have deported everyone without a second thought. It was really hard to find anyone in either party that would openly advocate for any undocumented citizen until rather recently.
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Old 17th February 2018, 02:13 AM   #11
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I always tell American acquaintances that their left wing is Australia's right wing,
A slight exaggeration but not by much
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Old 17th February 2018, 03:46 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
Personally I feel that free trade is in line with liberal values.
Labor unions have traditionally been protectionist, and this was a major driver of the Democrats being protectionist until about 2000 or so. Because it represents a move away fro Labor, it's reasonable to categorize this as a move to the right.

Another example would be the Affordable Care Act. This was taken pretty much directly from right wing think tanks while previous Democratic initiatives were more like single payer systems.

While the Democrats still support more regulatory action than the Republicans, their target for how much regulation is desirable has dropped significantly and is probably less than what Republicans were targeting back in the 80's

Similarly, the amount of military spending Democrats accept/desire has gone up considerably, although this is muddied by a lack of any real competing military in today's world compared to the cold war. The US outspends the entire rest of the world combined on military and that would still be true under Democratic military spending plans.
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Old 17th February 2018, 06:55 AM   #13
BobTheCoward
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Originally Posted by mikado View Post
I always tell American acquaintances that their left wing is Australia's right wing,
A slight exaggeration but not by much
Which would seem to me to indicate the left has had decades and has completely failed. I don't understand why they don't just hang their heads in shame and stop. You tried, you failed, get out of the way.
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Old 17th February 2018, 09:40 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Which would seem to me to indicate the left has had decades and has completely failed. I don't understand why they don't just hang their heads in shame and stop. You tried, you failed, get out of the way.
Completely failed to do what, why should they be ashamed of it, why stop now, and who/what should they getting out of the way of?
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Old 17th February 2018, 11:08 AM   #15
mikado
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Which would seem to me to indicate the left has had decades and has completely failed. I don't understand why they don't just hang their heads in shame and stop. You tried, you failed, get out of the way.
I have no idea what you are talking about, but I suspect you don't either.

The left has done just fine,
I come from a country that has socialised medicine ( the horror!). A decent welfare system and good gun control, we are doing just fine thank you very much.
I can see a doctor and have surgery without facing bankrupting bills( I took a reluctant partner in to the doc on Friday, to learn they need surgery, which will be available after a reasonable wait at no out of pocket cost- this is what we pay taxes for), I don't have to worry about some random nutter or every other person carrying a gun and I do know that people won't starve if they loos their employment, WHAT HELL.
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Old 17th February 2018, 11:19 AM   #16
BobTheCoward
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Originally Posted by mikado View Post
I have no idea what you are talking about, but I suspect you don't either.

The left has done just fine,
I come from a country that has socialised medicine ( the horror!). A decent welfare system and good gun control, we are doing just fine thank you very much.
I can see a doctor and have surgery without facing bankrupting bills( I took a reluctant partner in to the doc on Friday, to learn they need surgery, which will be available after a reasonable wait at no out of pocket cost- this is what we pay taxes for), I don't have to worry about some random nutter or every other person carrying a gun and I do know that people won't starve if they loos their employment, WHAT HELL.
And the US is not close to that. After failing so spectacularly in the US, the US left (the group I was talking about) should throw in the towel.
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Old 17th February 2018, 11:39 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
And the US is not close to that. After failing so spectacularly in the US, the US left (the group I was talking about) should throw in the towel.
They failed....on the weakness of their half-assed ideas. You're assuming these people aren't having only one foot out the door here.

Nixon was more progressive than most Democrats today. In fact I'd vote for him todah if he was alive. I personally don't mind Watergate as long as he fixes the system of corporate rule we have now.
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Old 17th February 2018, 01:42 PM   #18
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A main issue in this thread is that Left(Right) are ill-defined and therefore any measure is fluid/subjective. In any other 1st world nation the Dem party would be classified a 'socialist workers' or 'socialist democratic' party. Travis' OP outlines some socialist goals (socialized healthcare, massive government spending) some civil-liberties issues (gay marriage, trans-gendered rights.), some anti-civil liberties goals (pro gun control) And the peculiar issue that includes both a personal right, and a personal right violation(abortion) and suggests these are all 'Left'. The delineation of some of these issues as Left/Right is partly a matter of framing & subjective context.

Then other issues supported by the Dem party - 'Black lives matter, but not White lives', 'Minorities' (and enfranchised majorities, like feminists) are irreproachable and superior to others, unless they reject the party-line - then they are dismissable. How about the campus PC & anti-free-speech zealots ? These are NOT a promotional of any egalitarian or civil liberty issue that could even vaguely be classified as 'Left'.

If you want to review the Dem position on the basis of some Left/Right axis, you'll first need to define the principles that define this axis.
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Old 17th February 2018, 01:48 PM   #19
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The Democrats have always been center-right. I've seen no evidence of a change in that department.

I mean, I've seen some conservatives rant and rave that the Democrats are a bunch of communists, but those people are silly.
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Old 18th February 2018, 02:47 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Let's not forget Obama did not get us out of our hundred-years war and Clinton wasn't likely to either.
Er, could you expand on this a little?
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Old 18th February 2018, 03:49 PM   #21
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The WWII monument on the DC Mall looks like a freaking Nazi designed it. That, in a nutshell, is how far the entire country has militarized in mindset over the last 40 years.
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Old 19th February 2018, 01:19 AM   #22
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A couple of other ways in which the Democratic Party has drifted to the right IMO.....

Back in the 60's and 70's the Democratic Party would have been pro-labour union. These days they are at best neutral and at worst actively anti-union as a constraint on the free market.

The Democratic Position on welfare also seems to have moderated considerably IMO. Back in the day they would have been actively pro-welfare as a means of addressing the worst inequalities in society. Now there's a much more nuanced message in which welfare is seen as being valuable in some circumstances but there's much more focus on the "worthy poor".

The Democratic tax message has also changed. For sure they're not in favour of massive unaffordable and uncosted tax cuts for the 0.1% but they're not really agitating for significant across the board tax increases either. The current Democratic Party tax position is about the same as the pre-Voodoo economics GOP position.
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Old 19th February 2018, 01:21 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
Er, could you expand on this a little?
I'm guessing Afghanistan/Iraq/ISIS and the rest of the "War on Terror".

It's not a winnable (by military means) war IMO and so it's likely to continue indefinitely.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 12:44 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
Back then proposing universal healthcare in either party was political suicide but now numerous Democrats openly advocate for it.
It's extremely new that the Democratic Party is openly talking about single payer on such a scale. National and state party leadership is kind of up in the air at the moment, so only time will tell if this is a real shift to the left or just populist messaging to get progressives back on board for the midterms and 2020.

Hope springs eternal that it pans out to be a true policy goal this time, unlike the public option marketing from 2008-2009.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 12:59 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I'm guessing Afghanistan/Iraq/ISIS and the rest of the "War on Terror".

It's not a winnable (by military means) war IMO and so it's likely to continue indefinitely.
Yeah. From an interview with Philip Bobbitt:

Quote:
I would also say about “the long war” that it’s a historian’s idea. It is therefore a retrospective idea. I got a cartoon from someone as a gift. It was a Spanish cartoon and it showed a man getting out of bed and his wife is still in bed, he’s putting his trousers on and he says: “Darling, I’m off to the 30 Years War.” You really can’t say this is a long war until it’s almost over. But what you can say, and I may be wrong about this, is that the first historical epoch of this war, the war against Al-Qaeda, will not be the last.

DJ: You have no doubt that al-Qaeda will be defeated?

PB: Yes. In fact, al-Qaeda is being defeated. But I’m not at all sure we are winning the war against terror.
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