Pandering to the Center

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The liberal twittersphere is all atwitter over the latest outburst against liberal critics from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

….Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama. Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.

Once again, we see the fundamental difference between left and right when it comes to practical politics. A third of the country self-identifies as conservative, so it makes sense for Republicans to pander to them at all times. Conversely, only about 20% of the country self-identifies as liberal, so Democrats are better off pandering to the center — and one way to do that is to make sure that centrists understand in no uncertain terms that Democrats aren’t part of the fringe left.

It’s a bitch. And lefties are right to be pissed off at Gibbs for talking like this. But it’s not likely to change until the number of self-identified liberals goes up a lot. So far, there’s not really any sign of that happening.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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