Boy, Has That Pendulum Swung!

I have been commenting for some time on how dramatically the political pendulum has swung just in my own adult lifetime. When I first became “political,” Democrats were about as far Left as Americans ever go (which, despite dark mutterings from ahistorical types, isn’t all that far when compared to Europe). It was in reaction to what I perceived as the Democrats unrealistic and utopian goals that I joined the Republican party, which at that time was a comfortable home for someone who was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal–or, more accurately, an 18th Century liberal in the Enlightenment mold.

Over the years, both the GOP and the Democrats have moved steadily to the right. Today, the bulk of the Democratic party is pretty much where the Republicans were back then, and–with the exception of some bewildered holdouts–the Republicans have become…well, whatever it is that the irresponsible “party of no”  is these days.

I note this bit of political history because my daughter sent me a link to Abdul’s recent blog, in which he shared a list of “most liberal reporters” created by a local Tea Party group. To my considerable amusement, I was third–after Matt Tully and Jim Shella, ahead of Dan Carpenter, and well ahead of Abdul himself.

The list was “interesting” for several reasons. I’m not a reporter nor do I currently write for the Star, despite being so identified on the list. Dan Carpenter–who I admire–is significantly more liberal than I am, but we are both columnists who do share our political perspectives.  Matt Tully–who I would not consider particularly liberal despite his position of honor at the head of the list–is also a commentator rather than a straight reporter, so I suppose he’s fair game.  But Jim Shella? Mary Milz?What possible basis exists for characterizing them as “liberal”? That they report facts? It’s a puzzlement.

The Tea Party did helpfully append a list of positions that they believe constitutes “liberalism.” And it’s a hoot:

Anti-tea party, world government; weak local government; centralized state government; weak states’ rights; high progressive tax rates; pro Common Core; anti school vouchers; free universal health care; pro gun control; full rights to gay marriage; abortion without restriction; centralized economy; tax on hydrocarbon fuels; open international borders; lower national defense spending; and European Socialism.

Granted, this laundry list lacks clarity–it falls into the “name calling” rather than the “descriptive” category. What, for example, qualifies as “weak” state’s rights? How much “gun control” is enough to qualify one as a leftist? Evidently, recognition of climate change and support of equal rights for GLBT folks makes one liberal, in which case I plead guilty. (I also admit to being somewhat “anti” Tea Party, although I’m not sure that equates to being “pro” one-world government.)

The Tea Party folks may lack a coherent understanding of conservatism, liberalism, socialism, fascism and other “isms,” but they are surely correct that my own label has changed as the pendulum has swung. In fact, I feel a lot like that Dr. Seuss book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” The difference is, I’ve traveled while standing still.

Maybe–if I keep standing and live long enough–the pendulum will swing back.


  1. HA! I saw this list and was pretty flabbergasted by both the list and their definition of Liberal. It’s just more proof that the new conservatives believe that facts have a liberal bias.

  2. I read Tully’s column all the time, and I would not classify him as “liberal.” I think he’s a middle-of-the-road moderate, and I’ll bet that when he votes he splits his ticket. Carpenter–yes–but he would have been considered a moderate, I think, about the time you declared yourself a Republican, Sheila. I love Zach’s comment that the NEW conservatives (many of whom are WAY out there somewhere in space) DO believe that “facts have a liberal bias.”

  3. The list Abdul published was a work in progress not a final list.. It no longer says “reporter.” It says “writer.” I agree you’re not a reporter. You’re still 3rd though. Congratulations.

    All kidding aside, I stuck up for you and Dan Carpenter on my blog when I published the final list:

    I don’t mind that a columnist is “liberal.” (I do mind though when a reporter’s political philosophy is affecting his or her coverage. A columnist though is supposed to express their political opinions.) What I do mind is when columnists act as a cheerleader for those in power. That’s Matt Tully and Erikia Smith. They have never once opposed any hairbrained corporate welfare proposal. Tully is also intellectually dishonest and lazy..he’ll simply ignore facts that don’t fit what he is advocatign for You and Carpenter on the other hand are straight shooters and not afraid to speak out against the current political structure. I like that even though you’re philosophy is far, far left of center. FYI, I am the center.

  4. I wish one could edit comments, or delete and repost. Now I’m seeing typos and grammatical errors in what I posted and am unable to fix.

  5. Funny list. If I were categorizing local political writers, I’d place most in an order similar to yours. Abdul wouldn’t appear in the political spectrum but rather be off in his own little section under the heading of “provacateur” since he seems to me to be more interested in generating attention than in holding a consistent political position.

  6. The Tea Party deep thinker are a hate based group. They see the world in terms of who they hate. Based on their OFF THE CHARTS reactions to things (Like having a bi-racial president in THEIR White House) I would guess that their list of hates would be something like this.
    1. Black folks (especially the Uppity ones)
    2 Brown Folks
    3. Gays
    4. Women & the people who provide them with health care
    5. Jewish folks
    6. Educators/Scientists/Thinking People
    7. NON Gun Totin Librals
    8. Poor People
    (Some of us fall in multiple categories so they REALLY hate us )
    If a reporter does not froth at the mouth when reporting about any of the above groups, he or she MUST be a freedom hatin commie. There are a lot of these folks in our nation. I hope their strangle hold on our government is brief.

    PS: If you are high on their list of bad folks, you must be doing something right 🙂

  7. truly bizarre… as doug masson wrote on his blog, this list probably says more about the people compiling it than about the people on the list itself.

    also, i’m tickled by paul’s attempt to declare himself “the center” by fiat. if only it worked that way!

  8. Thanks for sticking up for me Paul. I consider you to be intellectually honest, too–but I don’t think you are the center, even given today’s widely tilted political landscape.

  9. Pat McC,

    Sure the tea party hates black people and women. That’s why they so disliked Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann. Oh, wait, they didn’t. In fact, they were Tea Party favorites last election. Might want to re-examine that theory.

    Of course this is where it’s trotted out that Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann aren’t really black and a woman respectively because they’re not liberal. Of course, the fact you’re using one’s political views rather than race or gender undermines your claim that the Tea Party doesn’t like people based on race or gender. Check mate.

  10. I am not certain that I would characterize the Democratic Party as ever having gone as far left as Americans ever go. Robert LaFollette, Henry Wallace and Eugene Debs were well to the left of the Democrats. They didn’t win, but neither did McGovern, who was probably the left-most candidate the Democrats put up.

    We have also had some extreme right party candidates, but I don’t know if they would be so out of sync with today’s Republicans.

    All in all, I found the list to be a hoot. I have always know that many on the political far right use the equation:
    Communist = Socialist = Liberal = Poopyhead = “Anyone who doesn’t agree with me”.

    Paul – if you are the center, then tickets on the 10 yard line are perfect mid-field seats.

    Sheila – speaking as an unrepentant liberal, we’d be proud to claim you any time — even if we disagree on a fiscal policy or two.

  11. Shella as a liberal? Hysterically funny. Does anyone still watch IWIR? I quit watching that long ago; I could no longer stand Shella jumping in to quote Republican talking points when he thought Mike McDaniels wasn’t making a strong enough case for the right.
    Its more accurate name should be “Indiana Republican Week in Review”.

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