I’ve been pretty critical of the rigidity of extreme conservatives on the right recently. But I also know that there is also a very rigid wing of extreme liberals on the left. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, center right editorialist, makes note of their calls to refuse to negotiate with Republicans, and attacking Obama’s budget as containing unacceptable compromises with conservatives.
From Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to the AFL-CIO, NOW, MoveOn.org, Campaign for America’s Future, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and National Committee to Preserve Social Security, they all are appalled at Obama’s budget proposal that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare. They apparently staged a protest yesterday against Obama's budget.
The key take-away to me from his article is that he posed a mirror image question to these folks from the Republican presidential campaign. Remember that eight Republican candidates for president were asked if they would raise taxes evin if it had $10 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases? And all eight said no, that under no circumstances would they raise taxes at all? Well, Milbank writes that
“…At Tuesday’s protest, I put the reverse question to participants: Could they accept a dollar of cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits for every $10 of taxes on corporations and the wealthy? All those I asked said they would decline.”
So much for the idea that only one side of this debate is unwilling to negotiate.
There is a difference between the two parties, however, I believe. And that is that the Republican Party has been in the iron fisted grip of their non-compromisers, whereas the Democratic Party has iron-willed non-compromisers but isn’t totally in their grip. They are on the margins of the party.
My hope is that the 2012 election has gone at least a little way toward moving the Republican Party away from the right wing non-negotiators and into a place where they can actually do some politics and come to some agreements with the Democrats, i.e. the federal and state governments can actually start functioning again.
The key is to have the voting public see the extremists as being in the margins rather than in control.