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Can Centrism Be a Movement? The Answer May Surprise You

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From The Differences Between The Republican And Democratic Parties are few. {MID-168894}
The Differences Between The Republican And Democratic Parties are few.
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Astronomers tell us the stars we see in the night sky died many millennia ago. Their light has spent eons crossing the emptiness of space. To us, they still seem to glitter and shine, but were extinguished long ago.

Last week, the Washington Post ran an op-ed about the political framework known as "centrism." The name is derived from the from the fact that its ideology draws equally from leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The Post's headline in the Washington Post last week asked the question, "Can centrism be a movement?"

The answer may surprise you.

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Whose Centrism?

The kind of "centrism" described in the Post's op-ed has been peddled to the American people for decades, by members of a political and media class -- some undoubtedly well-intentioned, others less so -- who believe that the center lies in their own midst.

They want decisions about the nation's future to be made in quiet convocations of the powerful, far from the messy and contentious disturbances of the popular psyche that give rise to memes, demonstrations, and voter insurrections.

You know: democracy.

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This brand of "centrism" brought us "responsible" plans to cut Social Security, a rhetorical fixation on deficit reduction, an unwillingness to prosecute crooked bankers or break up too-big-to-fail banks, and at the same time a drive to involve ourselves in military misadventures across the globe.

It's a global phenomenon, taking in the liberal leaders of social democratic parties in Western Europe, as well as U.S. Democrats with last names like Clinton and Obama. It gave us Obama's Deficit Commission fiasco, his misguided attempts at a grand bargain, and Congressional Democrats' fixation on "pay-go" programs.

This kind of centrism has been rejected by the voters over and over again. Obama was forced to retreat from it, at least rhetorically, in order to win re-election. But it contributed to the Democrats' loss of the Senate, the House, two-thirds of governorships, and some 900 state legislature seats.

This brand of centrism also played a major role in Hillary Clinton's 2016 loss. Even after attempting to adopt a more populist pose, Clinton could not resist return to her old ways.

"I get accused of being kind of moderate and center," she said at an Ohio campaign event. "I plead guilty." Ohio, like many swing states, had already been decimated by job-killing, "centrist" trade deals. Clinton's record, along with comments like these, made her vulnerable to her pitchman/opponent's phony promises.

This brand of centrism gave us Trump.

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The Light of Dead Suns

There have been many attempts to keep this vision of centrism alive, all funded by Wall Street tycoons and corporate CEOs. Still it shines, burning as bright as so many dead suns, fueled by the incineration of Wall Street money.

Not that I don't understand its appeal, especially if you travel in certain circles. Political debate is messy and angry and frequently rude;. Members of Congress don't beat each other senseless with canes as in days of old, but that could be making a comeback.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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