Where Is The Center?
This blog is named Regaining the Center. Well, where is the center and what will it look like when I get there?
Is the center where centrists and moderates reside? Is the center half way between the extreme positions held by the left and the right? Or is the center more like the third point of a triangle, bottom left, bottom right and at the top, center?
In my mind, it is possible to be a tax and spend proponent or a fiscally sound, small government adherent and still be a centrist. It is possible to hold that America should be the world’s policeman or to avoid all sorts of foreign entanglements and still operate in the center and be moderate.
So what is it that makes one seek the center and be called a centrist or moderate?
I propose there are three propositions.
Ethics. A true centrist must disavow personal gain from any and all political activities. Everything from campaign donations to honorariums where transportation and generous entertainment perks are provided under the guise of speaking on the issues are off limits. Employment opportunities for family members or friends, or lucrative jobs following public service are unacceptable.
Speaking from the center is about renouncing what’s in it for me.
Facts and Data. A centrists approaches issues of public interest from a bias for using data and the search for pertinent facts. Beliefs, no matter how strong, must give way to data. Once a centrist achieves the deployment of a favored policy, the centrist must scrutinize the policy’s implementation and determine if it is working as intended. The centrist must stand ready to discontinue or modify their preferred policies once data shows the policy is not working.
Speaking from the center is about supporting policies that work and can be shown with data to be working.
Evolving Center. A centrist recognizes that as time passes, the world changes. Population density, scientific breakthroughs, medical advances, social evolutions, and world events can alter how we see solutions to issues facing the country. While the Constitution is a written document and does contain mechanisms to amend, it is not unreasonable to accept evolving understanding or interpretations of this document.
Speaking from the center requires one to acknowledge the center is not fixed, and changes in the world continue around us.
Thinking about these propositions may be uncomfortable. On the surface, most everyone would say I am an honest person but we know that national politics today is all about personal wealth generation. Most everyone is for facts and data but in practice, hunches, estimates, and frankly hearsay are far more prevalent. Most everyone would also agree that the world is changing but how many times do you also hear people say this policy or that one was stood the test of time.
Being a centrist is a lonely and difficult quest. A centrist is neither fish nor fowl. Yet it could become the sturdy keel and rudder that steers the passions of the right or left towards productive outcomes and not towards ideological non-events.