Sunday, October 16, 2005

What is centrism?

The Skeptical Centrist writes on what it means to be a centrist:
Socially liberal but fiscally conservative? Sounds like a centrist to me. But so is a person who's socially conservative but fiscally liberal.
I'd call the first category more independent or libertarian. The second is arguably a good description of the Bush administration. This highlights the diference between two types of centrism: one that sits in the middle on every issue, another that forms sometimes "extreme" positions independent of partisan ideology.
The other problem you run into is the fact that centrism isn't sexy. It doesn't sell. Partisanship sells. There are no Ann Coulters or Michael Moores or Cindy Sheehans or Rush Limbaughs in the centrist arena. You never see groups of people parading up the Mall in D.C., chanting things like "Let's all be reasonable!" or "Hell no, we won't...accept extremism in any form!" or "George Bush is a warmonger, but I love my tax cuts!!"
If you're looking for a centrist version Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan might be a candidate. His attacks on this administration are often vicious and over the top, but from a libertarian rather than liberal perspective. And I have little trouble seeing a local Republican group sending out flyers with things like, "Hey GOP, where's our balanced budget amendment?"

The problem is, though, that its self-contradictory to get a mindless mob organized around the idea of critical thinking on tough issues. Vigorous debate in the media by centrists, however, is something that can and should be done.

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