It’s common knowledge that America is a center-right country politically. Joe Scarborough tells us so at least 3 or 4 times a week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Republicans repeat the refrain constantly, and so it’s no surprise that Americans think so too. As if in a gigantic group-hypnosis session, we’ve all been led to believe that our people have a right-of-center political bias. Polls that ask “Do you identify yourself as more liberal or more conservative?” confirm this widely held belief. But is it in actuality true, or have we just bought into the labels?

We tell pollsters that we don’t like big government, we believe in small government, and will vote for politicians who say they will give us small government. But when those very same politicians try to privatize our Social Security the overwhelming majority of Americans come unglued. We have somehow been convinced that government is bad, while loving our Social Security and Medicare. “Conservative” and “liberal” are labels, “big government is bad” is a slogan. Labels and slogans are not policies for governing.

It would be informative to see the results of some specific issue-based polls with questions such as: “Would you like to see Social Security and Medicare eliminated as big government programs?”; “Do you think government should do more to create jobs?”; “Do you believe that the top 1% in income should pay a lower percentage on their income taxes than the middle class?” I believe we would get a center-left result, rather than a center-right result.

We know that when Americans are polled on the specifics of the House of Representatives or Senate health care bills that the majority of people approve, but when polled on “Do you support Obama’s Health Care Plan?” they disapprove. Health care issues aren’t defeated in the polls, the idea of effective government is — despite the fact that Social Security and Medicare are very effective and popular government programs.

What has happened over the last 30 years is akin to a mass hypnosis. You ARE conservative! Government is bad! Liberals have lost the message war for 30 years and for the first time in decades we have an opportunity to take control of our own message to the American people, who in reality support left-of-center issues.

We are a center-left nation. The fact is that our founding fathers (and mothers) were not conservatives. They were revolutionaries, insurgents, radicals. They did not want to maintain the status quo (the good old days) — they wanted change. All through our history Americans have looked forward, beyond the status quo.

Decades of progress have come from progressive ideas and policies, and not from the policies of the right. The left has given us Civil Rights for everyone; the Women’s Vote; Social Security; Medicare; a G.I. Bill after World War II that provided college education to our war veterans, without which we would not have had a vibrant middle class to build our economy; and a basic minimum safety-net for the poor.

The right has given us ballooning deficits and debt with their broad-based tax cuts (i.e. tax cuts for everyone, including Paris Hilton, Texaco, and Goldman Sachs); financial ruin with their deregulation of business; and assault weapons and “cop killing bullets” in the hands of teenagers and drug dealers.

The conservative movement truly has no new ideas for this new century. They have only the warmed over and stale policies of the past fifty years: cutting taxes for the wealthy; deregulating business and financial institutions; privatizing Social Security; and launching wars of choice.

The definition of conservative applies most aptly today — conservatives are mired in the status quo with no new ideas for our future.