Senator Barack Obama

Enough! America Is Not 'Right of Center'

John Meacham is very, very wrong on this.

America has always been left of center. Always. Not only in terms of political preference, but also in terms of voter ideology. Meacham argues that liberal presidents -- JFK, FDR, etc -- in the last century have tended to shift to the right.

Most presidents, however, tend to move to the center eventually. Reagan, Bush 41 and Nixon all moved to middle on certain issues in order to get things done. Meacham even notes this on page 2. Weird. MORE after the jump...

But then he goes on to cite a poll in which voters consider themselves to be more conservative than liberal by a 2-to-1 margin. Of course Meacham ignores individual issue polls that, taken as a group, show that Americans are more liberal on a wide variety of issues.

• Americans are pro-choice (67 percent)
• Americans support the Geneva Conventions with regards to torture (57 percent)
• Americans don't want the government snooping in their bank and internet records (67 percent)
• Americans want the USA Patriot Act changed or eliminated entirely (81 percent)
• Americans support protecting the environment at the expense of economic growth (55 percent)
• Americans believe that global warming is happening (86 percent)
• Americans believe that it's the government's responsibility to provide health care (69 percent)
• Americans support the decriminalization of marijuana (55 percent) and support the legalization of medical marijuana (78 percent)
• Americans think we've lost the war in Iraq (64 percent)
• Americans are opposed to attacking Iran (68 percent, according to a CNN Poll)
• Americans support labor unions (60 percent)
• Americans want government funding of embryonic stem cell research (56 percent)
• Americans believe that free trade hurts American workers (65 percent)
• Americans believe rich people and corporations aren't paying enough taxes (66 and 71 percent respectively)
• And overall party affiliation? 54 percent of Americans are Democrats (with leaners) and 39 percent are Republicans (with leaners).

The fact remains that the word "liberal" is stigmatized here by a very loud far-right movement, and so most ordinary Americans are bashful to paint themselves with that brush. Meacham ought to know this.Throughout history, though, as Thom Hartmann often notes on his radio show, our greatest achievements have been part of a more liberal agenda. Social Security, labor unions, abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, the Civil Rights Act, clean air, clean water... you name it.If he wins, and Senator Obama has to move to the middle on some policies, he'll do so not because America is "right of center" but because, as history has proved with presidents of either party, in order to govern, a president can't neglect the middle. That's not to say that all of Senator Obama's positions will be centrist. I would be shocked if that was the case. But I would be equally as shocked if the man who famously said, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America," were to run away from compromise.