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Commentary: Move to the Center

By Jim Wittebols

Buffalo, NY – The quadrennial migration pattern of Democratic politicians is now under way. But unlike migratory birds and other species which migrate back and forth between two places, the migrations of Democratic candidates are not driven by nature or necessity, these migrations are the results of the edicts of corporate media.

You can almost hear the cacophony of media pundits as the chorus rises "move to the center, move to the center." There are two obvious conclusions reached from this once every four years chorus. First, it once again exposes the audacious lie that somehow the media have a leftist tilt. The mantra of "move to the center" -- which in reality means move to the right -- is telling Democrats that they have to become more like Republicans. This is clearly the advice of corporate media anchors who eagerly reflect the thinking of the Jack Welches and Rupert Murdochs and John Malones of the media world.

The second obvious conclusion is that the advice to move to the right over two decades time reduces the range of acceptable ideas discussed during a campaign to those acceptable to the one half of one percent of the population that contributes to presidential candidates. Public opinion polling plays into this by posing questions which ask which party is best able to deal with issues such as who will do a better job of fighting terrorism rather than asking whether the ideas promoted by either party are likely to work.

Thus the range of debate in the campaign will be dismissive of concerns like the Kyoto global warming treaty and will ignore proposals for single payer health care plans. They will also dare not suggest the pervasive U.S. military presence in the world through bases, arms sales and support of market friendly dictators contribute to the climate of terrorism throughout the world.

The fact is most Americans espouse views which are not consistently ideological in either a liberal or conservative way. And public opinion polls consistently show the American public often take positions well to the left of the political center. For example, support for more social resources for education, health care and the environment and less for defense has been consistent for the last two decades.

And the fact that many people cast their vote based on candidates' personalities means they often vote for people whose positions with which they disagree. The growing body of lies and distortions that moved the public to support the Iraq war also is an indicator of the lengths to which right wing politicians must go to get the American public to go along with their frequently wacky and fundamentally dishonest schemes.

The attempt to create silk purse president from a sow's ear of a man is beginning to crumble under the weight of the half truths and arrogant secrecy that make up a bankrupt right wing ideology. Meanwhile, the media still croons the move to the right tune even as the public is overcoming its post September 11th fears to begin to question just what 20 plus years of conservative governments have wrought.

Commentator Jim Wittebols is a professor of communications studies at Niagara University.