Tea Party ideology makes Obama’s agenda look more liberal than it actually is

As I noted HERE this past Wednesday, much of the agenda outlined by President Obama in his Second Inaugural Address enjoys wide support among the American people. Hence, that agenda can hardly be said to be far out of the political mainstream, especially compared to the Tea Party philosophy that currently holds sway in Republican circles.

Zachary Goldfarb has more about this HERE:

Opinion polls show that on almost all of the major positions Obama espoused in his speech— entitlements, immigration, climate change and same-sex marriage — a majority of Americans agree with him.

By that measure, Obama did not advance a liberal agenda. A consequential one, certainly, but one that reflects centrist views or center-left ones at most. The agenda seems liberal only when judged against the liberal-conservative divide we’re used to in Washington.

Over the past four years, politics in the nation’s capital has been consumed by the fight between the president and tea party Republicans. But because Obama is far closer to the center than the tea party is, what counts as middle ground in Washington is more conservative than the political center nationwide. In this setting, even centrist proposals face mighty legislative hurdles.

Beyond the capital’s divisions, citizens across the country resist the “liberal” label — even though polls show that they tend to hold liberal positions on individual issues. Political scientists call this “symbolic” vs. “operational” ideology.

According to one poll, 74 percent of Americans support regulating greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. According to another, 68 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor. And other polls show that more than half of Americans favora path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a vast majority opposecuts in education or transportation funding, and a slim majority supportsame-sex marriage.

Obama’s inaugural speech sounded liberal because he offered the kind of robust defense of government’s role in the nation’s life that has seldom been heard from Democratic politicians after President Bill Clinton declared in 1996 that “the era of big government is over.”


1 Comment

  1. Apparently this presidency is more liberal than a Clinton Presidency would have been.


    DAVID GREGORY, HOST: It was interesting on the day of the inauguration, Brian Williams and I and others were talking, and we noticed some video during the luncheon after the inauguration. And one of the things that caught our eye was a great moment here. You have your back to us. But there you are speaking, you’re with Secretary Clinton but also President Clinton. And that’s just one of those moments where you say, gosh, what were they talking about? Any advice there coming from the former President?

    CONGRESSMAN PAUL RYAN (R-WISCONSIN): We were talking about personal health. Both of us lost our dads when we were young, and we were just talking. I got concussions when I was young, and Hillary was telling me about hers. We were just kind of chumming it up.

    Look, if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles chief-of-staff at the White House, or President of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now. That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.

    GREGORY: And you don’t blame conservatives, particularly in the House, for thwarting that effort?

    RYAN: Both parties – forget about just the recent past – both parties got us to the mess we are in, this fiscal crisis, Republicans and Democrats. And you know what? It’s going to take both parties to solve this problem. That’s the kind of leadership we need today.

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