"I'm Stuart Zechman, and I'd like to do a little experiment with you
folks listening, if you wouldn't mind helping me out.
So I'm going read you a representative quote from a politician, and
I want you to try to guess whether that politician is liberal or
OK? Here goes, quote number 1:
""...God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to
think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is
doing in the climate is to me outrageous.""
OK, here's quote number 2:
""I favor the death penalty for abortionists and
other people who take life""
What about this one, Quote number 3:
"The truth is that abortion drugs are not about
women’s health but are really a seemingly innocuous means of
advancing a radical agenda."
""the gay community has infiltrated the very centers
of power. They are the greatest threat, that agenda is the
greatest threat to our freedom we face today.""
that was beyond easy. They're all conservative!
And you would be correct!
Of course these are all right-wing politicians, all Republicans.
The first right-wing quote was from bible-based science denier, the
Senator from Big Oil --I mean, Oklahoma, James Inhofe.
The second, that managed to combine aggressive death penalty
advocacy with an abortion is premeditated murder message, that's
from conservative Senator Tom Coburn.
The third right-wing quote, about the radical agenda behind access
to contraception, was Congresswoman Virginia Fox, who will be
the first to tell you that conservatism is an equal opportunity
philosophy...apart from the "equality of opportunity" part of that
And extra-bonus fourth right-wing quote, the one about the gays
being the greatest threat...well, that was a trick question, it's
So, the point of this exercise is this: these politicians --no
matter how corrupt, no matter how stupid, no matter how cowardly and
vote-seeking they are-- are all giving voice to the conservative
movement. They're right-wing. Informed people couldn't possibly
confuse them with non-right-wing politicians.
But there's a related point I'd like to demonstrate, and that
requires us to do another quick "guess the ideology" game, so here
Quote number 1:
“Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will affirm the
Senate’s commitment to the civil rights of all Americans and
also make our military even stronger.”
OK, quote number 2, I have to mention this is from a 1995 speech
entitled "Women's Rights Are Human Rights":
"As long as discrimination and inequities remain so
commonplace around the world - as long as girls and women are
valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not
schooled and subjected to violence in and out of their homes -
the potential of the human family to create a peaceful,
prosperous world will not be realized."
Alright, I'm running out of time, so the last quote is actually a
double quote from two different speeches:
""A woman's ability to decide how many children to
have and when, without interference from the government, is one
of the most fundamental rights we possess. It is not just an
issue of choice, but equality and opportunity for all women.""conservativenot not
""I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade...""
So let me tell you who said what:
Quote number 1, from the guy who successfully led the fight to
repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell in 2010, that was Joe Lieberman.
Quote number 2, from "Women's Rights Are Human Rights" was
from Hillary Clinton.
And quote number 3, about the basic, fundamental right to our own
persons, and the declaration "I am pro-choice"?
Well, that was from Barack Obama, the President who just appointed
two Supreme Court justices who are, like him, public proponents of
the Constitutional right of Americans to choose.
I think these quotes and the record demonstrate that these
politicians are not conservative.
They will never get gigs writing for National Review. They will
never be given campaign money from Concerned Women for America.
Their names, if ever mentioned at a CPAC convention, will mostly
likely be greeted with calls for summary execution as fifth column
In almost every corner of America, if one were to publicly claim
that Lieberman, Clinton and Obama are actually right-wing
conservatives, one could expect to be met with derisive laughter,
and for good reason.
But are they liberal?
Well, they're Democrats, that's true, but not all Democrats are
What Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have in common
is that they're "New Democrats," meaning they were all members of
something called the "New Democrat Coalition," which is a
Congressional caucus of ideologically like-minded Democrats, kind of
like the "Progressive Caucus," who are the left-most wing of the
Party, or Blue Dogs who actually are a bloc of conservative
Here's a description:
"New Democrats...are an ideologically centrist
faction within the Democratic Party...identified with centrist
social/cultural/pluralist positions and neoliberal fiscal
values. ...represented by organizations such as the
Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the New Democrat Network,
and the Senate and House New Democrat Coalitions."
"As Congress works to tackle the challenges facing
our nation, the New Dems, through our seven policy task
forces, have put forward a commonsense agenda...These
initiatives are about moving the U.S. forward in the 21st
The Coalition’s seven task forces are: Critical Infrastructure
and Manufacturing; Education; Energy; Financial Services; Health
Care; Innovation, Competitiveness and Tax Reform; and Trade."
And what were the Obama Administration's and Democratic Congress's
"historic achievements" during the past four years, again?
Heritage Foundation-Third Way compromise health care "reform."
Financial "regulation" that leaves "Too Big To Fail" bigger and with
more fail than ever. The lame duck Bush-Obama tax cut deal and
estate tax repeal. And more NAFTA-style free trade agreements as far
as the eye can see.
What inevitably passed into law these past four years was the New
Democrats' agenda. Just as inevitably, what wasn't the
New Democrats' agenda was universally characterized as "politically
impossible," and never put on the table.
And, just as surely as we can recognize the first set of quotes as
conservative, and the second set of quotes as not-conservative,
we movement liberals can recognize that the New Democrats' agenda is
So there must be something else, other than liberal or conservative,
that describes that ideological framework, a "Third Way," if you
will, between right and left. An ideological center, a
committee-packing voting bloc of bipartisan-fetishizing, Tom
Friedman-idolizing, anti-right and anti-left Democrats who
always seem weirdly, ideologically desperate to compromise,
especially in the name of destroying entitlements, or keeping
America at constant war, even when that means they lose elections.
I think that people who are truly interested in saving our country
from this not-New Deal we've been handed ought to play
"guess the ideology" a bit more often, and consider that, in
addition to many Democratic politicians being corrupt or
stupid or cowardly, maybe there's an agenda other than left or
right that, like many important things that go on, the purveyors of
conventional political wisdom would prefer to ignore. Maybe, when
other explanations fail to adequately describe how politicians who
get a 100% NARAL rating or who repeal DADT can still not be
liberal, we should at least begin to try --in an
organized way-- to help liberal Democratic voters understand that
there's left, right and Third Way center represented in the
capital, and that, for the vast majority of Americans, two out of
three are bad.
I'm Stuart Zechman, and this has been the Z-Files.
Is the politician who said that liberal or conservative?
Again, liberal or conservative?
And now for quote number 4. I wanted three quotes, but the fourth
one is just too...perfect to leave out, so here goes, quote number
OK, I could go on like this all day.
But, by now, you're all probably saying impatiently ""
Liberal or conservative?
So, liberal or conservative?
Is the politician who said those things , in
I think that virtually anybody who heard that second set of quotes
would say that the speakers were right-wing, that those
were expressions of conservatism.
Let me read to you what the New Democrats say about themselves:
Well, well, well. Health care. Financial Services. Taxes and trade.