Yesterday, in a New York Times op-ed piece, Bernie Sanders made a number of sound points concerning where the Democratic Party should be headed. (Basically, to become an actual labor party.) Even before happening upon the piece, I had been thinking for a while about the NYT's treatment of Sanders, his supporters, and policy specifics they champion like single-payer healthcare.
Predictably, the paper has been somewhat dismissive, at times condescending. Recent examples can be found here, here, and here; the first of the three also appeared in yesterday's paper a few pages before the Sanders op-ed.
Sanders's choice of forum was apt, as I am sure he's aware of the NYT's viewpoint. When he states in his essay that "too many in our party cling to an overly cautious, centrist ideology," he chose words certainly appropriate to the Times's orientation.
The NYT prefers its Democrats cut from the Clinton-Obama bolt of fabric. And anything a sixteenth of an inch to the left of what are basically Republicans from a bygone era is treated with a patronizing, avuncular patience.
With 2020 in mind and the 2018 midterms soon in sight, many of the forces working against substantive political progress in the United States will be "liberal." This despite the fact that the policies that Sanders and his supporters are talking about have majority support. They are, in point of fact, centrist.
On the topic of healthcare and the midterm elections, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi recently maintained that "state-level action was more appropriate" as an overall party strategy. "The comfort level with the broader base of the American people," she argued regarding a single-payer system, "is not there yet" (third "here" above).
The polling data for now many years, however, tells a different story. And little by little, especially in places like California, universal healthcare is getting the attention it deserves.
A general leftward drift seems afoot—and not just in the United States. More precisely put, the drift is toward where the population actually stands: the center. Yet, liberal establishment entities like the Times are very mindful of their parameters, especially the left-most edge. When reading the NYT, which I recommend (see Feb. 28 blog post), this is the slant one can expect. And I suspect this ideological rigidity will become more evident as the political conversation in this country moves in a progressive direction.