Our Missing Left Wing


Posted by Bob Lord

We tend to confuse the political spectrum and the ideological spectrum. The ideological spectrum includes the entire range of ideologies. The political spectrum is narrower. It includes only those ideologies that are included in the political discussion. The political spectrum slides back and forth along the ideological spectrum. Currently, it is jammed to the extreme right. Tea party radicals on the right are very much included in the political discussion, while sane voices on the left are ignored.

Which brings about this phenomenon, as described by Andy O'Brien in A Billionaire-Funded Campaign to "Fix the Debt" & the Illusion of a Moderate Middle:

In spite of polls that consistently show large majorities of Americans oppose such measures, several key Democrats, including the president himself, have signaled a desire to accept "entitlement cuts" as a way of finding common ground with an increasingly extreme Republican Party.

As history has shown, progressive reforms like Social Security were established during a time when labor unions and progressive parties were able to exert pressure on politicians. However, with the absence of an organized left-wing, radical right-wing groups like the Tea Party can tilt the debate so that cutting popular safety net programs can seem like a centrist idea. The result is an illusion of a "moderate middle" exploited by a small group of millionaires and billionaires, keeping unpopular ideas alive with an elaborate infrastructure of think tanks, astroturf groups and political campaign spending. (emphasis mine)

Something to remember every time a Democrat casts a "centrist" vote and on those few occasions when a courageous progressive challenges an incumbent "centrist" in a primary.


  1. The federal government may spend in furtherance of “the powers vested by this Constitution” but not otherwise.

  2. You’re totally correct, and I know it’s maddening (and probably pointless) trying to explain things to some of our trolls, but try to avoid the profanity in your comments. Thanks

  3. The power to tax entails the power to spend. If Congress can tax to provide for the general welfare it logically can spend to provide for the general welfare.

    How could that possibly not be the case? In what situation would Congress tax to provide for the general welfare without also spending for the general welfare?

  4. The purpose of the General Welfare Clause is no more than to serve as a limitation on the taxing power. Taxes must serve the general welfare, not special interests. However, Congress has asserted an independent power to tax and spend untethered to the enumerated powers.

    Secondly, spending authority does not come from the General Welfare Clause, but from the Necessary and Proper Clause, the final clause in Article 1, Section 8. Congress is authorized to “To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” Put simply, Congress may appropriate and spend money as long as the expenditure is “necessary and proper for carrying into execution” Federal powers. Although the spending power cannot be found within the explicit text of the Constitution, it exists nonetheless. The federal government may spend in furtherance of “the powers vested by this Constitution” but not otherwise, even if an expenditure may promote the general welfare of the US.

  5. “not a single one of which can be found among Congress’s enumerated powers.”

    “The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States;”

    Article 1 section 8.

    Enumerated, asshole.

    No where else is ‘General Welfare’ defined, so it means what Congress decides it means, This is the power given to Congress by the Constitution. You cannot wish it away. Yes it is a sweeping and open-ended power. This is what Democracy is all about.

  6. “Progressive reforms like Social Security” were implemented during the Roosevelt era because the Supreme Court, under intense pressure from FDR, effectively rewrote the Constitution and allowed the General Welfare Clause to be violated. Since then, the federal government has immersed itself in matters ranging from public schools to hurricane relief, drug enforcement, welfare, retirement systems, medical care, family planning, housing, and the arts – not a single one of which can be found among Congress’s enumerated powers.

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