I said in my last post that I thought Obama's speech was conservative. He's not interested in turning the world upside down to get some form of health insurance reform. He says explicitly that he wants to work with the system we have rather than build a new one.
Obama is a conservative in the old sense of that term.
The leadership of the Democratic party is conservative. The party under their leadership has become the center-right, chamber of commerce friendly party that the Republicans used to be. Nixon was more of a liberal (at least on domestic issues) than the current Democratic leadership. Every election cycle, the leadership tries to establish their centrist creds by beating up the hippies in their progressive base. That strategy has always struck me as counter-productive. Progressive hippies turn out to be a population big enough to spoil elections for Democrats. Beaten up and alienated hippies will frequently tell the party leadership to piss off and then go out and cast hopeless protest votes for Nader or the Greens. The Republicans then win the whole show by a squeaker. The basic message of the party to progressives is that they are the only other game in town.
I wonder frequently if Washington is really more conservative than the population at large. Progressive candidates have been doing better and better with each election for the past 8 years. The polling for the dreaded Public Option remains remarkably high at around 60%.
The Republicans, have morphed into a radical party; perhaps even a revolutionary party. They are now a far-right national front party similar to European national front parties. The Republicans, like the national fronts in Europe, have become a party of jingoistic nationalism, chauvinism, xenophobia, and racism. They appeal to the idea of threatened national identity. Their well financed media propaganda machines beat the drum of threatened national identity every hour, whipping followers up into a (sometimes violent) frenzy. The religious base of the party looks more to me like the old Spanish Falange instead of like any center-right Christian democratic party. Evangelical holy men until recently were political king-makers, similar to the political mullahs of the Islamic world.
So we have a choice these days between a conservative party and a far-right national front party that I don't think truly represents the actual political landscape. It is an arrangement that is very advantageous to the corporate oligarchy whose desires and ambitions really matter, as opposed to the wishes and hopes of all those mere voters working for them. Our system of legalized corruption guarantees that a lot of voices are shut out, and a lot of interests remain unrepresented. The unwashed voters get fed a steady stream of meaningless pablum from the sycophantic mandarin class of media and access professionals who attend those oligarchs like courtiers. The Great Unwashed get "managed" so as to remain happy in their current situation, and not to demand any more than their station permits. The anger and alienation that this patronization breeds becomes fodder for the far right whose supremacist agendas reinforce the power of the ruling class that exploits the regular folk.
And so it goes.