Illusion Of Progressive United States
Senator John McCain exhibited an unsteady hand; yet 55 percent of the White electorate still voted to put himâ€”and a severely intellectually challenged Sarah Palinâ€”into the White House, after eight years of George W. Bush's destructive administration. Whites in the Tea Party movement, and elsewhere, now cry â€œWe want our country back.â€
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Many progressives and liberals are extremely upset with President Obama for not having "done enough" in Washington yet.
Apparently, they expected him, single-handedly, to have already purified the putrid cesspool called Capitol Hill. They seem to have forgotten that a president isn’t a monarch. The same checks and balances that stop a president from doing bad can also stop one from doing good. A president is as progressive as his party, and the American electorate allow.
Unfortunately, many liberals delude themselves about the nature of the American people and the electorate. For example, in a May 18, Common Dreams.org article, entitled "Capitalism: Big Surprise in Recent Poll," sociology Professor Charles Derber—based on a few polls—argues that “This is not a ‘Center-Right’ America,” and that “we are moving toward an America that is either Center-Left or actually majoritarian socialist.”
How does he come to this remarkable position?
The professor’s dubious conclusions are based on his extrapolation of the polling results he cites. He echoes the fantasy some White progressives are afflicted with: the erroneous notion that America is a progressive nation, especially, since a Black family now resides in the White House.
The most recent of the polls, Professor Derber utilized, was a Pew poll published on May 4, 2010. The poll sampled responses of 1,546 people primarily by telephone interviews. The professor makes much ado about the fact that “Only 52 percent of all Americans react positively” to the word capitalism. As opposed to the “Thirty-seven percent [that] say they have a negative reaction.” He also refers to a Gallup Poll, published on Feb. 4 that “found 37% of all Americans preferring socialism as ‘superior’ to capitalism.”
What Professor Derber fails to mention is that both of these polls also showed that basically 60 percent of respondents had “negative” reaction to the word socialism. In the Pew Poll it was 59 percent and in the Gallop it was 58 percent. How does this square with his rosy assessment that “we are moving toward an America that is either Center-Left or actually majoritarian socialist?”
He, apparently, thinks 52 percent of Americans, in this poll, favoring capitalism “shows widespread skepticism about capitalism.”
He plays up the fact that the “Pew poll shows a surprisingly progressive Democratic base. Democrats are almost equally split in their appraisal of capitalism and socialism. Forty-seven percent see capitalism as positive but 53% do not. And 44% of Democrats define socialism as positive, linking their negativity about capitalism to a positive affirmation of socialism.”
These are, primarily, the main points Professor Derber highlights to say “So much for the view that Obama does not have a strong progressive base to mobilize. In fact, ‘progressive,’ according to the Pew poll, is one of the most positive terms in the American political lexicon, with a substantial majority of almost all sub-groups defining it as positive.”
The Pew poll records that 68 percent react positively to the word “progressive.”
The professor should pay attention to his own words. Early in his article, he said “We cannot be sure what people mean by these terms, so the results have to be interpreted cautiously.”
All polls should be “interpreted cautiously.” How can he argue America is progressive when the same polls show 60 percent of the respondents reacted negatively to the word socialism?
Let’s look at some concrete examples illustrating that this isn’t a progressive country. To do so, we must honestly analyze one of the salient indicators of progressivism in America: race relations. Let’s start with the 2008 Presidential Election results.
After Barack Obama was elected, some people argued that it proved America was now a “post-racial” society, supposedly, because so many Whites had voted for Obama.
Yet, if one takes a look at the racial breakdown of the election results one may come to a completely different conclusion. Although, Senator John McCain exhibited an unsteady hand, especially during the Wall Street crisis, 55 percent of the White electorate still voted to put him—and a severely intellectually challenged Alaska governor, Sarah Palin—into the White House, after eight years of George W. Bush's destructive administration. Whites in the Tea Party movement, and elsewhere, now cry “We want our country back.”
New York is considered among the more progressive states in America. Yet, in New York, discrimination is prevalent in housing, employment; quality education remains segregated. Long Island is among the most segregated suburbs in the nation.
In New York City, the jobless rate for Black men is nearly twice that of White men. The disparity between White schools and ethnic minority predominant ones is glaring. And the New York Police Department is like an occupation force in many Black communities.
Yet, even White so-called liberals hardly focus on these issues, as a litmus test, when evaluating the “progressive” agenda in America.
The United States will become a progressive nation when these wretched realities, inflicted on ethnic minorities, are fully addressed.
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