A "Hostile Takeover" of Centrism in CA-11?
David Sirota has a thoughtful analysis of the Lieberman/Lamont Senatorial race in Connecticut posted today on Daily Kos. His emphasis is on the political designations we assign to politicians today and how the semantics of the terms “moderate/centrist” and “liberal/extremist” have been co-opted by the Washington Establishment. I encourage you to read the entire post. If you’re anything like me and focused on the CA-11 race against Richard Pombo, you might easily find yourself mentally substituting “Filson” and “McNerney” for “Lieberman” and “Lamont.”
As Sirota has documented in his new book, Hostile Takeover,
Washington's definition of "centrism" is not just about promoting those who capitulate to Republicans, but more broadly, those who genuflect to the Establishment and support the hostile takeover of our government.Gee, does this sound familiar to anyone? From day one, Steve Filson has trumpeted his “moderate/centrist” political stance, boasting of his ties to corporate diva Ellen Tauscher. Indeed, rather than introducing himself to local Democrats before announcing his candidacy, Filson flew back to Washington so that he could be vetted by Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, and the DLC/DCCC powers-that-be. Once the Beltway elite had given their stamp of approval, Filson swooped into town, cloaked in Congressional endorsements and proclaiming himself as the only “electable” candidate in the race because (a) his “moderate/centrist” political stance was the only position that would sell to the conservative voters of CA-11; and (b) he had the big-money support that would follow from being endorsed by the Washington Establishment.
No matter how far out on the fringe of public opinion you may be, you are billed as a "centrist, a "moderate" or "in the mainstream" in our nation's capital if you serve as a mouthpiece for powerful interests who bathe politicians in cash, lend your support to these interests' pet causes, perpetuate their dishonest agendas, and keep telling the public that the Establishment's goals are the public's goals - even when polls clearly shows they are not. This paradigm is everywhere. Lieberman keeps getting fawned over as a "moderate"; out-of-touch, war-mongering Beltway pundits are being lauded as supposedly tough "moderates"; and corporate-funded think tanks pushing extremist economic and foreign policy agendas are applauded by pundits as "moderate" saviors. The propaganda is ubiquitous - and it goes the other way, too.
That's right, in Washington, you are labeled "liberal," "extremist" or "outside the mainstream" if you actually challenge power, debunk dishonest agendas with facts, and remind the public that the Beltway is deliberately ignoring what the vast majority of Americans want from their government. Moveon still gets slandered as supposedly out of the mainstream for its opposition to the war - even though polls show the public is just as vehemently opposed to the war. The netroots is constantly harangued by Beltway pundits as ultra "liberal" - even though the positions it supports in trying to get the Democratic Party to actually stand up for ordinary citizens is right in the center of public opinion data.
Washington, in short, deliberately tries to marginalize forces of change by slandering those forces as outside the "center." That propaganda system, not surprisingly, selects for people who refuse to challenge power. This explains why we have so many unspectacular, mealy-mouthed, power-fearing politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress (and also why there are more outspoken voices in statehouses where this propaganda system is less pronounced). But it also explains why there is so much anger at Washington brewing throughout the country. After so many years of Washington lying to people about what the "center" supposedly is, Americans are waking up. As a 2005 poll by the Feldman Group showed that a whopping 72 percent of Americans now "believe that elected officials in Washington do not see the nation's problems and opportunities in the same way they do."
That anger represents electoral opportunity for the political candidates like Ned Lamont and others who actually look at the data, reject the Beltway's B.S. and stand up for ordinary citizens. To be sure, doing that takes guts. Big Money interests have made an art out of eviscerating those who challenge them. [Emphasis added]
As Filson’s story went, Jerry McNerney was a “fine man,” but (a) his “liberal/extremist” politics would never play in CA-11, with its 7% edge in Republican registration; and (b) he couldn’t raise the quantities of money from Washington PACs and lobbyists that would be necessary to win in a race against Pombo.
All these many months later, it’s refreshing to see Filson’s narrative exposed for the empty shell that it is.