Early in the 2008 primary season, when Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were the strong front-runners of their respective parties, the Indepublicrat handicapped the race and fell in behind John McCain and Barack Obama. That dead-on level of prognostication (a.k.a. “dumb luck”) marked the short but successful career of the Indepublicrat as a political pundit. It was the perfect exclamation point to end on, and really what more needed to be said?
Another reason for retirement came when the one-in-a-million dream match-up of McCain and Obama, two moderate-centrist flag-bearers, turned out to be somewhat less ideal than expected. The Indepublicrat anticipated a high-minded and respectful campaign between these two, based on personality and the relatively short distance between them on many policy issues. The Indepublicrat was in for a major let-down. And following that, what could have been a new spirit of bipartisanship in Washington never quite materialized.
It really has been a depressing couple of years to be an eternally optimistic centrist political philosopher. 2010 finds the U.S. government as polarized as ever, with the rhetoric on both sides turned up to eleven. But these are the times when moderate voices are needed the most. So here I am.
What is a moderate voice? To judge by recent comments to my old articles, and additional comments likely to be posted to this one, there's some confusion on what it means to be a centrist.
Comment: Centrism is a product of one of two things… inconsistency of ideology, or indecisiveness about ideological beliefs.
Um, no. As independent thinkers, centrists aren't tied into the myth that an opinion on any one issue defines a person's entire world view. A fiscally conservative Republican who supports an expensive war could be considered inconsistent. A liberal Democrat in favor of abortion rights but opposing the death penalty could be considered inconsistent. But generally these inconsistencies are swept under the rug in favor of marching lockstep with the platform planks of one's preferred political party. Dare to disagree on any given issue, and you risk being labeled as a Democrat/Republican In Name Only, the dreaded DINO/RINO.
We also don't buy the myth that reconsidering, reexamining, or revisiting a viewpoint is a weakness. New information comes in all the time, good arguments are heard, new experiences are had, and some of it will undermine your point of view. When that happens, you have two choices: put your fingers in your ears and sing “la-la-la” or incorporate the new stuff into your viewpoint to find a better and more useful position. Most centrists aren't afraid to question their views from time to time, to find that some ideas are no longer working and need to be updated. We attain wisdom through a series of steps and missteps in a process that may take several decades. But nobody ever became wise by singing “la-la-la” and accusing others of being indecisive flip-floppers.
The Indepublicrat argues for independent thought. That includes thinking for yourself, independent of the people, parties, or organizations who might try to influence you with soundbytes, half-truths, and bias. Your thoughts on each issue should reflect the true complexities and conflicting priorities inherent in that issue, because nothing is as simple as it first appears. Having a consistent ideology requires you to decouple unrelated issues from each other. When you think for yourself using unbiased sources and the best information available to you, the resulting policy positions will be consistent, decisive, and well-supported.
Comment: Centrists are like cowards. They will be agreeable with anyone even if it's with the enemy.
Okay, wow. Really? Where to start on this one…
Extremists come in many different flavors but all share the same closed-mindedness and sense of entitlement. They will dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as stupid, crazy, uninformed, cowardly, traitorous, or otherwise unworthy of being heard. Engaging in these tactics says more about you than about your intended target, and what it says about you is that you are a total jerk. It's just sad.
The Indepublicrat respects anyone who raises the level of debate, even if we differ on ideology. Reasonable minds may differ, and friends can agree to disagree. If someone you otherwise agree with is being a closed-minded jerk, don't be afraid to call them out on it.
Comment: You are not a centrist – you are a liberal/conservative/socialist/etc.
This comment falls into the “if you're not a [whatever I self-identify as] you must be a [whatever I am diametrically opposed to]” school of thought. That's one of the things I dislike about that two-dimensional chart thing–it ignores the complexity within and outside of those two dimensions. Anyone who truly recognizes a balance between individual rights and societal obligation will come out as a centrist–but on any given issue that balance will lead to a decision on one side or the other and sometimes it will be a very strong lean in that direction. Centrists will disagree in a way that liberals and conservatives may not, but we're cool with that.Tweet
Latest posts by The Indepublicrat (see all)
- What Is a Centrist? - March 5, 2010
- The Indepublicrat Endorses McCain and Obama - February 5, 2008
- Candidates Court the Indepublicratic Vote - February 4, 2008
- Mike Gravel, Ready on Day One! - February 1, 2008
- Ron Paul Wins Big in Florida - January 29, 2008
- NH Fallout: Crying All The Way To The Oval Office - January 9, 2008
- Ron Paul Strikes Out on Leno - January 8, 2008
- Iowa Fallout: Don’t Believe the Hype! - January 4, 2008
- Commercial Review: Mike Huckabee Wants Ron Paul Dead? - January 2, 2008
- The Nolan Chart Survey and Anti-Centrist Bias - January 1, 2008
- Welcome to 2008 - January 1, 2008