It’s true! Nate Silver recently wrote about how and why Congress is so polarized and that is bringing back up a chart that made the rounds earlier in 2012. What the chart shows is how conservative or liberal the parties have become over the years. This is the chart and what I wrote about it at the time:
30 years ago, liberal Democrats wanted an end to frivolous wars, a reduction of nukes, universal healthcare, a reduction in our military spending, equality for all and an appropriate level of taxes on the very very rich.
20 years ago, liberal Democrats wanted an end to frivolous wars, a reduction of nukes, universal healthcare, a reduction in our military spending, equality for all and an appropriate level of taxes on the very very rich.
10 years ago, liberal Democrats wanted an end to frivolous wars, a reduction of nukes, universal healthcare, a reduction in our military spending, equality for all and an appropriate level of taxes on the very very rich.
2 years ago, liberal Democrats wanted an end to frivolous wars, a reduction of nukes, universal healthcare, a reduction in our military spending, equality for all and an appropriate level of taxes on the very very rich.
Did they fight for all of these things all the time? Not at all. Gay rights were not exactly a hot button issue in the 80s. But the basic mindset was there.
On the other hand, 30 years ago, the GOP was OK with raising taxes when necessary even after they cut them; sitting down with our sworn enemies to reduce tensions and avoid bloodshed was considered the height of diplomacy; abortion was mostly considered a non-issue except by the radical fringe; religion was nice but not too much in our politics, please; the John Birch Society had been thoroughly banished two decades earlier for being completely insane and drowning in conspiracy theories and reducing our nuclear arsenal was a worthy endeavor.
These days, no taxes can ever be raised for any reason whatsoever even as our Republican-exploded deficit breaks one trillion dollars while corporations and the rich have more money then ever, negotiating with sworn enemies is seen as weakness while massive unnecessarily bloodshed is “patriotic”; not only is abortion the bane of modern society but so are all forms of contraception except maybe condoms; 3 of the 9 contenders for the GOP presidential nominee thought it would be just dandy if we run the country according to the Bible; a disturbing amount of Republicans are on the record as denying the science of evolution in favor Creationism; the John Birch Society, still insane and wearing tinfoil hats, hosted last years CPAC; Republicans are openly speaking about limiting voting rights and, oh yes, reducing our nuclear arsenal is now also a sign of weakness. Lastly, liberals are literally trying to destroy the country and hand it over to secular atheist communist Nazi Muslim terrorists that want to put you in FEMA re-education camps.
Here’s the most recent version of the same chart:
I know I talk about the “both sides” meme a lot (A LOT) but it’s the poison at the heart of our political discourse. As long as we allow people to enable the GOP’s radicalization by insisting both parties are becoming more crazed, the longer it goes on. Pretending that the Democratic Party is somehow “far left” when they’ve barely budged in twenty years is a con played on the country by Fox News and the conservative media machine. Also, allowing other liberals to lay claim to a imaginary moral high ground by declaring “both sides” too corrupt only weakens the left and emboldens the right.
The truth is, the right has gone insane. They’ve allowed a small cadre of well-funded lunatics to push it out to the fringe of right-wing ideology. Unless we on the left continue to push back on the “both side do it” garbage peddled by both the cynical, calculating right and the part of the left that is easily manipulated by appealing to their moral vanity, we’ll pay the price for our complacency just like we did in 2010.
Whenever you come across a liberal or an “independent” (who, more often than not, is a conservative too embarrassed to admit it) whining about how all politicians are corrupt and both parties are owned by the corporations so why bother, ask them a few simple questions like:
“Under what circumstances could you imagine a Republican president ending DADT or approving of gay marriage?”
“When was the last time you saw a Democratic president cut taxes on the rich so deeply we went into a recession?”
“Please name a Republican president in the last 40 years to balance the budget or even lower it by the end of their first term. Now name a Democratic president that has.”
They will not want to answer these questions and they will go on and on and on about drone strikes and Guantanamo Bay. This is the sign of a person who knows they are lying, when they claim there is “no difference” between the parties. Make sure they know this. Make sure everyone around you knows this. The time for “let’s all get along” is over. Republicans cannot be reasoned with. They can’t even agree among themselves whether they should solve the fiscal “crisis” they created or let the country tumble back into recession. The GOP needs the strength to cull the crazed Tea Party from its ranks and the only way THAT happens is if we stop giving the obstructionists the cover they need.
Both sides are NOT the same. The GOP HAS gone insane. The Democratic Party is the same as it ever was. They haven’t swung to the far left OR the far right. Anyone that says otherwise has an agenda or is willfully ignoring reality to feel better about voting for flying unicorns.