There is a misconception that because there are two major parties that dominate the US political landscape then there must be a left wing party and a right wing party. By deduction, then, the Republicans are right wing and the Democrats are left wing. Perhaps centre-right and centre-left like the incorrect designation applied to the Liberal and Labor Parties in Australia. In actuality, a more appropriate label for the two major parties in the US are far right and extreme right. The Democrats, certainly, are not left wing.
It would probably be of assistance if we define what is meant by left wing and right wing. Broadly speaking, one can regard left wing as being more socialist in their approach: equal rights and opportunities for all genders and races, mandating that employers pay a living wage to their employees, regulations for potentially harmful goods and services, government provision of the necessities of modern life (healthcare, education, utilities, infrastructure, etc), and religious freedom (including the freedom to not be religious). Conversely, one can regard right wing as being in favour of economic liberalism and conservatism: deregulatation, government minimalisation, nationalism and religious fundamentalism. Under these broad definitions neither the Republicans nor Democrats support positions that are left wing; positions that are supported by the majority of the American population.
Notice that military incursion does not appear in either of those broad definitions of left wing and right wing. This is because military intervention should not be palatable to either social model; those who favour socialism do not want valuable government resources squandered on expensive overseas ventures that do nothing to help the people, and those who favour conservatism want the military to defend their own country and their own people exclusively. It is interesting, then, that the military dominates domestic and foreign policy in the US.
No value from either party
Nowadays the Republicans are so extreme that they can no longer be regarded as a legitimate political party, so it is with the Democrats that the needs of the American people must be trusted. However, it is with the Democrats that many of the oppressive policies that harm the people are introduced and maintained. It was under Bill Clinton’s presidency that the Glass-Steagall act was repealed, that enabled the risky and predatory gambling practices leading to the financial meltdown eight years later. Clinton also repealed many of the laws preventing media consolidation, enabling a contemporary media landscape where 90% of it is controlled by only six corporations. It was under Barack Obama that the Bush Tax cuts became permanent (another major factor in the global financial crisis), the climatically devastating fracking was accelerated, US oil production almost doubled, drone strikes throughout the world were escalated, and the number of US wars was increased from two to seven. It is also noteworthy, as we did in our last blog posting, that the percentage of the discretionary budget that was allocated to the military almost reached 60% in 2010 during a time when the Democrats had control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. Finally, arms sales overseas more than tripled between 2010 and 2011.
It is true that when the Republicans are in power US policy takes a dangerous and significant shift to the right. However, when the Democrats are in power, they do very little to restore policy back to the centre. The result is an accelerating shift to the far right in policy, despite the American people being in the centre (where they have always been).
The Republicans deserve the majority of the blame for the degradation of the quality of life in America, but the Democrats must not be regarded as their counter measure. The truth is there is no way to vote against endless war, corruption, class immobility and poverty. The American people are beginning to realise this, and those who can be regarded as left wing (typically the millennials and educated masses) have started turning away from the establishment; 2017 was a devastating year for the Democrats in terms of funding and they were completely wiped out in the 2016 elections nationwide. Sadly, they do not appear to have learned their lesson, and continue to advocate for anti-democratic approaches to the Party apparatus.
The solution to this problem would appear to be the rising of a new party in the US to serve as a counter to the two parties who no longer serve the interests of the American people. The Republican Party was established in 1854 which was intended to serve as an alternative to the Whigs and Southern Democrats over the expansion of slavery to the territories. By 1858 the Whig party had ceased to exist as a functional party and Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican president in 1860.
Perhaps a Labor party is needed. Not like the contemporary ones in Australia or the UK that consist of more of lawyers than union workers, but an actual Labor party that serves the interests of the working people of the US. It would certainly make a much needed change.