The rise of the tea party movement and the increasingly inevitable trouncing the Democrats will have to endure in November isn’t necessarily evidence of a rightward ideological shift. It’s simply evidence that we have a penchant for temporary fits of political roid rage. We’re in a bit of a mood right now. When it comes to jobs, we’re understandably angry, but the solution — electing more Republicans — won’t create more jobs. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance a Republican Congress will try to freeze spending or force a government shutdown, risking an economic backslide at the worst possible time. Congress and the press, meanwhile, are mistaking inchoate tantrums for a “center-right” shift and that’s simply not the case. We have anger management issues here, and I’m still hopeful that we’ll snap out of it and grow up before we put the recovery in jeopardy with a Republican Congress that made its bones by sabotaging the economy.
The sooner politicians embrace the reality of a center-left America, the sooner they’ll actually stand up proudly for progressive legislation, rather than running like half-baked Republican knockoffs. There’s a powerful, rational, patriotic argument for every progressive vote and every progressive bill. Make the case, Democrats. Don’t run away from reality into the twisted contradictions and hypocrisies of right-wing frames. Voters want strong leadership and conviction more than they want conservative policies. Show them.