The “both sides” mentality in the mainstream media is an example of lazy journalism. It’s the pursuit of trying to appear fair handed for those worried that they might be perceived otherwise so if needed, they’ll artificially pump up one side as being as extreme or offensive as the other side when it isn’t (“People opposing racism are just as extreme as people supporting racism! See how fair I’m being? Nailed it!”).
When it comes to issues involving bigotry, chauvinism, intolerance, corruption, poverty, etc., the side that opposes the haters and thieves is not “equally extreme”.
The MSM often tries to balance the scales of Trump Extremism with Progressive values on the other side. For example, while Trump and Congressional Republicans pushed through a tax bill that gave most of its $1.5 trillion cuts to the top 1%, Progressives want to reverse that and tax the wealthy more to reduce the deficit and pay for social programs that everyone, including Republicans, use.
Those are not reverse mirror images of the same extreme position. One is a corrupt transfer of wealth from the majority of Americans to a wealthy minority and the other is righting that wrong and working for the public welfare. It’s easier though for some in the press to gloss over the actual dynamics and details and just throw it into the “both extreme sides” narrative.
Republican extremism under Trump has gone so far that even moderate, centrist views are now far to the left of them.
It’s like the Republicans have built a scale where the fulcrum is so far to the right that conservatism would be in the center (hence all the NeverTrump Repubs seeming reasonable of late…until they shill for a narcissistic coffee billionaire whose independent run would help Trump get re-elected…Schmidt, I’m looking at you) and the issues that a majority of Americans support are “far left”.
But that continuously dragged-to-the-right fulcrum corrupts balance, it does not reflect where the middle of American opinion is and it’s well past time for the MSM to stop calculating the middle point in American opinion as equidistant between the extremest Trump/GOP and where most Democrats (and Americans) are.
Despite the constant labeling, Progressive values are not “far left”. This adds a psychological wrongness for those who don’t think of themselves as “left” to a broad set of popular values, most of which are shared by centrist Democrats and Republicans.
So let’s go through some key Progressive values and see just how mainstream they are with the American public.
PROGRESSIVE ISSUES AND THEIR POLLING
a. A wealth tax of 2% on wealth above $50 million: 61% Approve/20% Disaprove
b. A marginal tax of 70% on income above $10 million: 45% Approve/32% Disapprove
c. Repealing Trump/GOP Tax cut to reduce deficit: 60% Approve/21% Disapprove
d. Obamacare/ACA: 51% Approve/ 40% Disapprove
e. Medicare For All: 70% Approve/30% Disapprove
f. Climate Change is man-made: 58% Agree/30 Disagree
g. Instituting a carbon tax: 44% Approve/29% Disapprove
h. Abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 58%Approve/37% Disapprove
I. Free college tuition: 60% Approve/29% Disapprove
j. Tougher gun control laws: 61% Approve/38% Disapprove
k. Opposing Trump’s border wall: 60% Approve/40% Disapprove
l. Citizenship for Dreamers/DACA recipients: 83% Approve/15% Disapprove
m. Allowing transgender people to serve in military: 70% Approve/22% Disapprove
It’s hard to see how these positions are “far left” when a majority, or in a couple of cases, a plurality of Americans, support them.
Yes, there may be Progressive proposals by some Dems that seem too far “left” to some Americans (most issues that might seem so are listed above and polled favorably). When calibrating what “extreme” really is, it may be helpful to keep in mind that none of the positions listed above that most Americans support…none of them…are supported by Trump and the GOP.
In this post-Citizens United era (consider the cruel irony of the name of a ruling that has torn Americans apart and handed our government to the wealthy to be run for their benefit, “Citizens United”? Republicans always seem so gratified to use perverted titles that make bad things sound good), the needle has moved farther and farther away from democracy and representing the will of the people.
The decisions in Congress and the White House, especially under Trump/GOP rule, seem mostly to serve the wealthy who donate to them far more than the American people (check your tax refund this year)…or helped put legally questionable money in Trump’s pocket.
There is nothing centrist about a plutocracy. There is nothing left wing about majority rule in a democracy. The branding of a rigged status quo and corporatism as “centrist” is wrong. As is trying to give an unspoken affirmation of what’s best for big business as “normal” and anything in favor of the people as “far left”.
Most Americans don’t see themselves as “leftists”. Yet they hold values that align with Progressives in most cases. It’s the “far left” branding that some may see as a way of alienating Americans from supporting issues they might otherwise support.
In the end, titles are irrelevant and perhaps that would be a good idea for the 2020 Democratic candidates to consider. Maybe it’s not as important to brand these positions as “Progressive” or “Liberal”.
Maybe it would help to reclaim truth and our democracy by simply referring to these positions as what they are de facto…”what a majority of Americans want”.