THE BLOG

There is No Equivalency Between Right and Left

11/03/2009 05:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As money has slowly but surely taken over the political process in America, it is no longer possible for a candidate to achieve mainstream recognition unless they have several powerful industries behind them. The banks, oil, defense and insurance industry have ensured mainstream candidates never threaten their bottom line. As a consequence, the scope for debate between the two political parties is virtually meaningless.

One would have thought that increasing income tax by 4.6% for those earning over $200,000 would inspire a moderate debate on the pros and cons of marginally increasing the tax rate for the rich. But given the screeching by the GOP and the media's insatiable desire to create conflict, it was treated like the introduction of Marxism to America.

In the depths of political punditry there exists a simple rule of thumb: There are two sides of an argument, one made by Democrats, and the other by Republicans - treat each with the same respect.

If you are looking to further your career in the main stream news, you must stick to this principle religiously. A multi billion dollar industry has been built out of refereeing the back and forth between the two sides, and pointing out that not only is the game is rigged, but one side is living in a fantasy world completely devoid of facts or basic truths won't do anything to further your career.

The truth of the matter is that there is no equivalency between the Left and Right in America.

The Left exist in a paradigm still vaguely related to reality. Democrats recognize that the free market cannot solve all of humanities problems, that invading other people's countries isn't the best way to change their minds, and that there are bigger threats to national security than gay marriage.

This isn't to say the Democratic Party isn't deeply corrupt, beholden to special interests, and run by a bunch of Rovian careerists hell bent on victory at all costs. It's just not comparable to the Republican Party.

The GOP has been hijacked by a lethal combination of free market zealots and religious extremists, making its contribution to the national debate simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. The thinly veiled racism and extraordinary vindictiveness leveled at Obama for the very slight changes he has made in domestic and foreign policy has been mind blowing to watch. The party has opposed the stimulus package, healthcare reform, initiatives to stop global warming (many Republicans still don't believe it actually exists) and the extension of unemployment benefits in the worst job market in 80 years. The Republican party's de facto leaders, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck have successfully managed to whip up middle America into such a frenzy that vast quantities of the country genuinely believe Obama is the embodiment of a love child between Adolf Hitler Mao Tse Tung.

In any other industrialized nation on earth, Obama would be considered a mildly conservative centrist with some liberal tendencies - probably closest in ideology to David Cameron of the conservative party in the U.K. But the GOP has successfully shifted the debate so far to the Right that they can paint Obama as an extremist socialist/communist/liberal.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has merrily gone along with the premise, treating arguments put forward by each side equally. Whenever anyone comes along and points out the obvious, they are cast as an extremist and 'outside of the mainstream'. As the debates shifts further and further to the Right, so to does the MSM, regardless of how ridiculous the it becomes.

Take for example, the health care debate. The fact that the public option became the focal point of the discussion is as much the media's fault as it was the Republican Party's. The extremely moderate position that a government run insurance option could help bring costs down for struggling families was treated like a giant battle between communism and capitalism. Instead of pointing out the obvious fact that Obama's proposal would not go nearly far enough in solving the catastrophic healthcare system, the media obsessed about increasing taxes on the rich.

While the range of debate is far wider in the blogosphere, most people still get their news from television. Unfortunately, they are only hearing a highly skewed debate that still operates on the premise that there are only two views on an issue -- the Democrat's and the Republican's.

And that is why change in America is very hard to enact.

Ben Cohen is the Editor of TheDailyBanter.com and founder of BanterMediaGroup.com