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AdLib On February - 12 - 2019

scale tilted

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.


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”.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

7 Responses so far.

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  1. TOCB says:

    The right has mastered the art of controlling the narrative. One reason for that is that they have a lot of help not only from Fox “News” and right wing talking heads, but the left often legitimizes lies told by the right by not challenging them. One of my pet peeves is the excuse republicans use when they can’t defend something. This is when they say, “Both sides do it”. Although there are some things that both sides do, they are few and far between. Lying, distorting facts, racism, bigotry and misogyny are almost the exclusive arena of republicans. That is not to say Democrats or pure or perfect, but they are almost TOO anal about staying clear of these things.

    • AdLib says:

      Hi TOCB!

      No question that the news media uses the “both sides” ploy as performance art to try and demonstrate to the public how fair they are but what they really are often doing is making facts equivalent with lies because one side uses lies to counter the truth.

      They call themselves journalists but those who practice this are just propagandists in the end.

      97% of scientists say Climate Change is a serious danger to the world. 3% don’t. So presenting both sides and two sides of the same coin is like saying that 97=3.

      The Barr hearings are going on this morning and I am constantly disappointed by how tepid Democrats are in confronting such pompous liars.

      It’s not over but what I want to see is a Democratic Senator state straight up, “Mr. Barr, you have no credibility. You are a liar. You lied about Mueller’s letter to you by concealing it, you lied about his report by claiming it declared ‘no collusion’, you lied about Trump being fully cooperative when he refused to be interviewed or answer questions about obstruction and dangled pardons to stop witnesses from testifying against him. Your very presence in the office of AG undermines the confidence of the American people in the rule of law in this country and the the Department of Justice as a trustworthy entity. You should resign and if you don’t, I will do everything in my power to see you removed from office.”

      Or something diplomatic like that.

  2. kesmarn says:

    AdLib, I remember — when I was in college, decades ago — wondering about why people chose to major in “marketing.” What was so significant about selling things to people that it could warrant four intensive years of study to master the field?

    Now I wish I’d paid more attention.

    Because now it’s all too apparent that marketing techniques aren’t used only to sell gadgets. They’re used to sell ideas. And to create and maintain “brands.”

    The strange man in the Oval Office (I’ve made it through two years without ever attaching the P(resident) word to him) may not be a brain surgeon, but this is one concept he grasped much earlier and much better than I ever did. It’s pretty embarrassing to admit that.

    From the consistent labeling of Barack Obama as “lawless,” and Hilary as “crooked” — to the Pocahontas attacks on Elizabeth Warren — Trump and his allies have been remarkably successful at the branding game.

    As you’ve said, these days it’s all about the left being “violent,” “Socialist” and “extremist.”

    For starters: it’s unfortunate that the word “socialist” should ever have been allowed to become a pejorative term. There are obviously plenty of socialist countries in Europe that are not populated by oppressed, impoverished masses dominated by brutal dictators. As we all know in fact, if you want to see stable, successful middle classes with low crime rates and high levels of education, look there.

    Then there are the darkly cartoonish representations of Democrats as the kind of people who would snatch women off the streets when they’re nine and a half months pregnant, force them into clinics for unwanted abortions, and then coldly euthanize the perfectly healthy newborn afterward. Apparently it’s almost impossible to overdo it when it comes to getting your marketing message out there.

    Add to that the “fact” that everyone on the left is a Godless atheist (really?) and you’ve got a caricature of a pretty immoral lot.

    So — even though the policy positions of the left are viewed positively by the majority of Americans, as you’ve brilliantly demonstrated — the right continues to push the ” they’re all dangerous radicals” narrative.

    The ironic thing is — we’ve already been here before! A couple days ago, this YouTube video was recommended to me. It was a story written by Rod (Twilight Zone) Serling, and produced in the mid-1950s during the McCarthyist Red Scare. It is eerily familiar:

    Apparently — unfortunately — this is one (of many) battle(s) we’re going to have to fight all over again.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks so much for sharing The Challenge, I’ve never seen it before! In addition to Serling having written it, I saw that Sidney Lumet directed it and he was a real hero in the McCarthy/blacklist era. Here’s a link to some background on him:


      Not surprisingly, he directed 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict, etc.

      Here he was, with Serling, in his early years, making a timely and poignant piece about the mob mentality of fear and division.

      The Republicans discovered decades ago how they needed to use marketing to sell their party to the rubes out there and demonize Democrats.

      Let’s not forget Reagan branding Medicare as evil “socialism”:

      And Roosevelt’s New Deal was also demonized as socialism.

      The bottom line is that the GOP cemented into itself the mercenary nature of lying and demonizing to grab power and serve the wealthy.

      The negative branding of anything that would help most Americans over the wealthy is cleverly market researched until an effective and destructive term is confirmed.

      They defined “liberal” as an insult. They renamed the Democratic Party as the “Democrat” party because they didn’t want people hearing the positive word “democratic” connected to it. They labeled the ACA as having “death panels” along with being evil socialism.

      Trump has tried to market his wall with his phony “border crisis” and “national emergency”.

      They are right though, for many Americans, politics is about public perception over facts and principles. If Repubs claim Iraq as part of an “Axis of Evil” then when they attack it to steal its oil, many Americans will back them.

      This is why I wrote this article to push back on another widely accepted piece of propaganda, that Progressive views are “far left”.

      It’s Republicans on the right who have branded Progressives that way because they’re afraid that in a fair face off between Repub positions that favor the wealthy over 99% of the country and mainstream views that Progressives support, they wouldn’t have a prayer of winning.

      Repubs need a corrupt playing field to win. They need to cheat because they don’t represent a majority of Americans and one of the big ways they cheat is to paint all they oppose with lies that they hope will scare away support.

      What gives me optimism is that voters ignored it in 2018. Despite all of Trump’s overblown fearmongering about hordes of evil brown people storming our borders to take over our country and rape everyone, Americans ignored the marketing ploy and voted hugely for Dems.

      Same with the shutdown and not funding the wall, all the marketing by Trump and the GOP failed with Americans.

      Could it be that Repubs have so overplayed this card? Especially with the absurd and enormous exaggerations and lies by Trump?

      Socialism is no longer a scary word to most Americans. Nor is liberal or Progressive.

      It is a legit proposition. Americans may finally recognized that the GOP is the boy who cried wolf and no longer buys into their fear mongering (aside from the ignorant, racist types).

      We’ll see more so in 2020 but it sure seems from the 2018 elections and current polling that most Americans now see the Repubs and Trump as compulsive liars whose marketing on issues can’t be believed. It’s too bad the country has had to go through such horribleness to finally realize the GOP is wholly dishonest but if that’s the case, better late than never.

      • kesmarn says:

        AdLib, thanks so much for the extra material on Sidney Lumet. I’m fascinated by the McCarthy era. And — like you — I’d never seen “The Challenge” before this week. I was so impressed with how timely it still is — despite the 50s fashions and the b & w film.

        And that Reagan piece! Yikes! The ultimate in right wing fear-mongering propaganda. Notice how Reagan glibly says: “Of course we all accept that Social Security is necessary…” Oh really??? During the Depression the Republican Party considered it pretty much a given that The Devil invented Social Security. It was anything BUT accepted when it was initiated. How time — even a couple decades — changes the conservative brain. Of course, today every good GOP geezer is lapping up all that medical coverage without a word of protest. They wouldn’t dream of giving up that socialized medicine in the 21st century.

        Being a natural-born worrier, I’m always relieved to read your optimistic take on how the future might be shaping up. I think you’re right when you note how the word “socialism” isn’t the knee-jerk panic-inducer that it used to be. And how younger voters don’t fall for the same sales pitches that worked in earlier eras to try to peddle everything from unjust wars to corporate thievery.

        Recently I read that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s feisty and yet good-natured Q & A in Congress on governmental ethics has gotten over 40,000,000 views.

        I love that.

  3. glenn says:

    As usual, Ad, great article, especially your concluding sentences. I think you’ve hit on something there regarding labels. Democrats running for office should begin their speeches policy positions with those or similar words.

    In fact, they should begin their speeches showing that the policies are a REFLECTION of most Americans’ beliefs, rather than something that Americans have to be persuaded to believe.

    Dems should begin their speeches with those statistics, and go on to tell voters what specific policies will address those beliefs. As politicians are being interviewed by the so-called “liberal media”, they should make sure that these statistics and policy positions are being highlighted. Yes, they are going to have to answer the stupid questions such as, “Do you eat fried chicken with your hands or with a fork?”, but hold the media accountable too. Make the media at least repeat their policy positions once in a while, rather than their so-called gaffes.

    That being said, I have no hope that this will happen often, due to the fact that the above question about fried chicken was plastered all over the liberal sites this morning.

    Dems definitely need to get better with messaging, and the first step is to keep citing those statistics in your article.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks glenn, your points add nicely to what I wrote.

      I think that the Dems running in the primary and the eventual nom could indeed set their own definitions for how they should be described. They can resist the dismissive categorizing and say, “The issues I believe in are the same that most of you want to see be implemented. Forget the label, focus on the actual issues.”

      Labels are by their nature, divisive. Us and them. There is an us and there is a them but feeding into that by accepting the labels others have established and apply.

      I am proud to be Progressive but that label isn’t what’s important. I think that could indeed be what we need in a Dem nominee to combat the vicious partisanship and hatred.

      Talking substance, not categories of people. Telling Americans, “This is what I support, if you agree with most of these positions, support me.”

      I would be especially happy to see the Dem candidates blow up the “Far Left” label being applied by Repubs and corporatists to issues a majority believe in that benefit the people. Their idea of mainstream is corrupt and favoring the wealthy while undercutting the majority. That is extremist, not these popular issues.

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