Local Guest Editorial by Gerald Cavanaugh
Americans are left-of-center progressives ...
... and the Democratic Party must pay attention to that reality.The right-wing ideological mystification and distortions of the political and social meaning of the election have begun in earnest. (See, e.g., the essay by Jeff Flake in the Nov. 5 Tidings: "GOP writes history, but not the book it wanted to write," which painted America as a center-right country).
But those election results in reality represent: 1) a sweeping national rejection of right-wing Republican ideas and practices from Reagan ("the modern prophet of profligacy") through Bush ("make war, cut the taxes on the rich, go shopping"); and 2) a massive understanding on the part of the great majority that the "Market" is rigged to favor the rich and to exploit the workers, and that democratic government has a necessary and powerful role to play on behalf of all the citizens beyond Wall Street.
Most Americans saw years ago that the nation was on the wrong track. Seventy-five percent of Americans think that a universal national health insurance plan ("Medicare For All") is a good idea, 71 percent favor a law requiring employers to provide paid family and medical leave, 78 percent support an expanded SCHIP [State Children's Health Insurance Plan] coverage for poor and uninsured low-income children, and 68 percent favor making it easier for workers to form unions.
A majority of surveyed Americans (68 percent) favor taxing the income of hedge fund managers — they enjoy multimillion dollar incomes — as regular income instead of at the capital gains rate of 15 percent.
Clear majorities of Americans also favor such initiatives as: helping citizens caught up in the mortgage crisis; government programs to reduce prescription drug prices (Medicare Part D being largely a giveaway to the drug companies); more consumer product safety measures; more government-sponsored American economic development; making college education affordable for all; preventing good jobs from going overseas; and tax relief for middle and working class families.
As for foreign policy, most Americans now oppose the Iraq war as the reckless, ruinous, duplicitous disaster it is and are also against the expansion of our engagement in Afghanistan. Most Americans prefer diplomacy to aggression; most prefer cooperation with other nations and international efforts to help the poor and the sick in other countries; and most want significant reductions in the Pentagon budget and a sharp reduction in the power and influence of the Military-Industrial Complex.
The problem is not that Americans comprise a "center-right country" but rather that our political system is tilted against the wishes and needs of the majority of our citizens and, instead, deliberately channeled toward the material interests and ideological preferences of the rich and powerful — not to put too fine a point on it: "The Ruling Class," those entities that underwrite and guide the selection of our national political representatives.
Let it be said clearly: our "democratic" political system overwhelmingly favors the very rich, the corporations and the corporate mass media. Their interests are given priority in government policies. Only an aroused activist mass popular movement can bring about the necessary changes that truly reflect the needs and wishes of the majority of Americans.
Gerald Cavanaugh is a retired professor of history and social theory living in Ashland. He has lived here 15 years.