The United States is not “a center-right country”

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Photo shows view of the huge crowd from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, during the March on Washington. Original black and white negative by Warren K. Leffler. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA https://www.loc.gov/resource/ds.04417/

There are many reasons political pundits say the United States is a center-right country. None of them hold up to scrutiny. First, let’s start from the origin of the Left-Right construct:

  • “The Left” refers to the left side of the French Revolutionary Assembly — who favored a democratic republic.
  • “The Right” refers to their opponents — who favored a return to absolute monarchy.

Just starting there, even the most conservative Americans are much further left than we generally acknowledge.

  • Libertarianism cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • small-town local government as the leading lever of national decision-making cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • pro-business conservatism cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • the right of the people to compel government to tax the people less would have no place under the autocracy of the original “Right”;
  • religious liberty has no place in the absolutist mindset of “The Right”, where the monarch claims to be a political agent of God’s will.

In its original sense, “The Right” is antithetical to American democracy. Shocking as it may seem, in the true sense of the Left-Right construct, Americans who favor climate action, or the principle that Black Lives Matter, or who want tax fairness, or who defend the 2nd Amendment, are all more “Left” than “Right”, because they believe people’s aspirations, priorities, and justice, should govern, not the whims of autocrats.

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Renewal is Possible, if We All Do Our Part

Without a healthy, inclusive, just and reciprocal social contract, we cannot be free.

This 4th of July, to honor the long-ago opened and still incomplete move for citizen-led self-government, we must fully commit to the work of ending structural racism and reckon with the ways in which misgovernment, economic inequality, and a surging pandemic affect the meaning and lived reality of human freedom. Constraints on real personal sovereignty deny tens of millions the ability to define their own journey and chase their dreams.

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Chief Justice Celebrates Independent Judiciary, Civic Education

In his end of year letter, Chief Justice John Roberts has directly addressed what may be the defining Constitutional issue of our time—whether brute force will govern instead of the law (and by extension: whether the federal courts will remain independent of politics and so able to uphold the principles of the Constitution and the universal rights it protects).

The Chief Justice notes the that the first to hold his post, John Jay, was sidelined from his role as one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers, by a rash of mob violence. He writes:

It is sadly ironic that John Jay’s efforts to educate his fellow citizens about the Fram ers’ plan of government fell victim to a rock thrown by a rioter motivated by a rumor. Happily, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay ulti- mately succeeded in convincing the public of the virtues of the principles embodied in the Constitution. Those principles leave no place for mob violence.

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Democracy is hard, but also simple: Rights supersede powers

Democracy is hard, but also simple; rights supersede powers, always. Any effort by any person or faction to use public office to gain unfair advantage is a crime against democracy. That is how we protect human dignity, freedom, and ingenuity, and ensure we are empowered to build a better future, together.

The following are 10 points of reasoned rebuttal of a Politico article predicting the end of democracy:

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‘We must save the soul of America’

Last night, as he welcomed the audience to a Democratic Party Presidential Primary debate, on the same day the United States Ambassador to the EU testified under oath that President Trump directed an interconinental extortion plot, Rep. John Lewis told the nation “We must save the soul of America.”

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The President is Not Above the Law

Every day, Donald Trump lies about his views, his interests, his actions, and the law. His claim that “Article II would let me do whatever I want” is so fundamentally contrary to the rule of law, it calls into question whether he is eligible to serve at all. Contrary to his claims, the Constitution makes sure the President cannot be above the law.

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Americans Vote for Vision, Reason & Service

The 2018 midterm elections in the United States were historic. A record number of women are going to Congress. Native Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and gay candidates, all saw historic breakthroughs. Far from putting Trump in charge of the American political landscape, the 2018 midterms revealed a more forthright, cooperative America, in which people of conscience work together to counter corruption and build a better future.

The Democratic Party showed itself to be a diverse party of the political future, attuned to the 21st century, full of new voices with fresh ideas, connected to a burgeoning movement of people demanding better civics. The Republican Party, by contrast, campaigned in a way that has shocked the conscience—echoing segregationist, white supremacist propaganda and anti-democracy conspiracy theory. It cannot win a national election going forward if this continues.

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Vote for Higher Purpose

The late Senior Senator from Arizona John McCain wrote that:

Human rights exist above the state and beyond history. They cannot be rescinded by one government any more than they can be granted by another. They inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be abridged, they can never be extinguished.

He was considered a “maverick”, because he sometimes voted against his party, when conscience—or his primary allegiance to the Constitution and the People of the United States—required him to. Honorable service requires recognizing that some things are more important than political parties.

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Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy

by Parker Palmer

American Democracy is a non-stop experiment in the strengths and weaknesses of our political institutions, local communities, and the human heart. The experiment is endless unless we blow up the lab, and the explosives to do the job are found within us. But so, also, is the heart’s alchemy that can turn suffering into compassion, conflict into community, and tension into energy for creativity amid democracy’s demands.

Today we are in the middle of another election cycle. Once again, false claims, half-truths, hateful rhetoric, fear-mongering and demonization of the opposition dominate our civic space, driving out the genuine issue-oriented debate a democracy needs to survive and thrive. We need citizens with chutzpah and humility to occupy our civic space and call American democracy back to health. There is no reason, at least no good reason, why our number cannot be legion.

Read the full essay here…

The Struggle for Our Future

An expanded space for human liberty—free from persecution and degradation—is the measure of whether we, as organized society, are succeeding.

Some take the view that this means no constraint on any person’s liberty can be allowed. The result of this thinking is a strange hybrid radicalism, combining an aversion to all centralizing institutions with a permissive attitude toward powerful private interests that generate harm and cost for more vulnerable people.

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