Originally posted by midwinter
I submit for your consideration:
Is it possible that when Bill Clinton moved the Democratic party to the center that conservatives, in an effort to distinguish themselves from an increasingly centrist, if not slightly conservative, Democratic party and popular (if beseiged) President, were forced to move farther and farther to the right?
While it is possible, it is not at all what happened. Clinton successfully executed a strategy of triangulation to get elected while the entire country was becoming more conservative in its voting patterns. Gore managed to get the nomination but had to make a hard left to excite the base and attempt to fend off Nader. Lieberman wasn't even in the running this time.
Meanwhile it is Bush has coined the compassionate conservative phrase, been unwilling to restrain spending, and has not even been willing to address issues like immigration. The Republican Party has moved to the left because, for example the same sex marriage amendment couldn't even muster a majority in the Senate.
There are many Republicans that used to be Democrats. They often claim that they never left the party, the party left them. This is the Buchanan pitchfork crowd which is basically white men who are tired of being the evil cause of everything. Union folks and people in trades who are tired of being sold out on issues like NAFTA/WTO. Lastly we have anyone who doesn't want to police the entire world while and believes that we should enforce our own borders both for environmental and cultural reasons. There is no one in EITHER party that is addressing these issues right now. It is these issues that created the Perot candidacy that kept Clinton in for eight years (while never achieving even 50% of the vote) and also helps Nader now. There are populist positions, but neither party will touch them.
Is it possible that, because this happened over the course of 8 years, during which time Limbaugh became huge and Fox News emerged, the transition was so gradual that conservatives didn't even notice they were moving farther and farther to the right? Is it telling that, for instance, the formerly "radical" voice of the right wing, Pat Buchanan, is increasingly at odds with the current state of the right wing?
As mentioned Buchanan is at odds basically because he advocates the views of white males, trades, unions, and limited or no immigration. For actually attempting to address these he has been called a racist in every possible manner. I'm sure most of these Reagan Democrats and white men would actually vote for an alternative but they are sort of like blacks within the Democratic party, where are you going to go?
The Democratic party could create a majority federally if they changed a very small number of issues. Stop blaming white males for everything, economic affirmative action, immigration reform for national security, for fiscal reasons (to help lower income Americans advance financially, perhaps even unionize) and lastly for environmental reasons. Finally, they could extend to men the same choice to parent that women have and stop trying to get tough on crime by criminalizing sex via child support/divorce, sexual harassment for nonsense like telling a dirty joke. (make it about power, not environment)
If they did even a few of these things they would likely haev a supermajority quite quickly.
Is it possible that Fox leveraged its very popular sports outlets as a vehicle for attracting its news-viewing demographic? Is it possible that Fox's WWF-like pundits were part and parcel of an increasing public interest in viewing cruelty toward and debasement of others? Is it possible that when Fox amassed a large viewing audience for its screaming head shows, the other major news outlets were forced to compete by hiring blatant conservatives to work as pundits, thereby moving radical voices into the mainstream? Mike "I hope you get AIDS and die" Savage? Ann "We should invade
their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" Coulter?
The irony, of course, is that the right in this country has relied on the rhetoric of oppression for so long that it hasn't seemed to notice it controls loads of major media and all branches of government.
Most likely all this has come about because of us all having so many more channels of communication to fill. It takes more to attract attention and once we have it, we still want something familiar. Thus brands (like say a Limbaugh) become huge but in the meantime you still have a hundred channels that need to fill their space so they will put ANYTHING on. (hence reality tv)
You will likely watch this happen with AirAmerica. They don't even need to do particularly well. They just need to stick around long enough to become a brand. That is exactly what Michael Moore has done. Moore is no longer a documentary film maker. He is a brand. You know just what you are going to get served when you see his films, read his books or listen to him speak. I have no doubt it is true with Limbaugh, Coulter, Franken and others as well. They are all working to become semi-political/entertaining brands. Out of all of them Bill Maher still does it best.
But in closing remember the people I mentioned that really have no where to go in terms of political representation, white males, unions, fair traders and anyone who gives pause to record immigration. Their views are not being hit by either party.