Debunking The Center-Right Myth: A Response To Mark Murray
By Yashwanth Manjunath
With Netroots Nation 2010 in full swing, one of the biggest topics for discussion among online progressive activists continues to be disappointment with Barack Obama and his failure to live up to his rhetoric. Progressives expected “change they could believe in.” Instead, they’ve barely received pocket change. While The Nation‘s Eric Alterman wrote a brilliant essay stating that our broken political system where special interests and corporate cash rule the day making the kind of sweeping change Obama promised impossible, Mark Murray at NBC news (pictured) had a different take. In his Memo to liberals written at the start of the Netroots convention, Murray takes it upon himself to repeat the same hackneyed talking point that has dominated the “liberal” mainstream media dialogue for far too long: it is not the political system that is against liberals, it is the Center-Right country in which we live.
Like so many before him, Murray cites the same misleading Gallup poll indicating that self-identified conservatives and moderates outnumber liberals; and like so many before him Murray does not see the shallow-minded idiocy of this logic. While it is true when asked to self-identify their political ideology “conservatives” outnumber “liberals” thanks to the tireless efforts of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the conservative propaganda machine in turning liberal into a dirty word, a 2009 study released by Media Matters shows that when actually polled on the issues it turns out America is in reality a Center-Left country. For example, despite all the anti-taxes rhetoric on the right, 61% of Americans in 2009 believed that the amount of taxes they paid was fair according to another Gallup poll. On social issues 61% of Americans now support marriage or civil unions for gays and a majority of Americans continue to support Roe v. Wade while only 20% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal. None of these are “conservative” positions.
The best example of the fallacy of the center-right myth is what happened with the Public Option. Despite polls consistently showing that anywhere from 55-65% of the American people were in favor of the Public Option during the health care debate, politicians and the mainstream media continued to depict the provision as some far-left socialist plot. This is a point not only those at Media Matters, but also other liberal commentators like David Sirota, Cenk Uygur, and Chris Mathews have made in the past, but apparently the message still has not sunk into the “liberal” mainstream media yet.
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