The Need For Radical Centrism: An Introduction

If you’ve been reading my other political blogs these past weeks, you’re probably well aware that I care deeply about a large variety of political issues. I’ve been in a weird rut since Trump got elected, as I found myself constantly defending conservative viewpoints purely because I would see horrible arguments from my peers and social circles against them. I wasn’t trying to just play devil’s advocate, I was actually getting passionate about defending these beliefs because I saw an alarming desire to not only go against these views, but also to silence and belittle those who possessed them. I would be shocked as I heard people trivialize issues such as right to choose, marijuana use, and health care, as if these issues all had an obvious solution to them, and they acted as if watching the right John Oliver or Trevor Noah video would open my mind to why the liberal side was right. I’ve been increasingly worried as the left tramples on freedom of speech through crazy riots, the silencing of speakers at colleges, and the censorship right wing commentators have faced on platforms like YouTube and Twitter. That being said, I’ve also become increasingly worried by the behavior of the right. I don’t, nor have I ever identified with the “alt-right”. I find their destructive nature, their inability to do anything but troll, and their general lack of taste and composure to be worrying, even more so because they have the attention of so many disillusioned young people, hoping to attach themselves to politics but seeing only two parties. Trump really has shaken up politics, and I’m not a fan that my options are between the black-clad Antifa looters on the left or the ironically White Supremacist meme-lords on the right. What I am happy about is that all this political chaos has highlighted an incredibly important point, our generation needs a new political party to put its banner behind. I’ve already highlighted in a previous blog why the American Libertarian Party can’t be this party, nor can any of the other failed third candidates of the past like the Green or Reform Party. I propose that anybody who finds themselves recognizing the increased need to take an interest in politics, yet also finds the options we have to choose from awful, join the ever-growing center, and take the necessary actions with me to help fix our nation.

The History of Radical Centrism

Radical Centrism has never explicitly been used as a political party in the U.S., although its ideas have been increasingly borrowed from since the founding of the nation. Arguably the most famous Radical Centrist, although the identification didn’t exist in his time, was Benjamin Franklin. Take a second to think about Franklin, and how he compares to our other Founding Fathers in America. Isn’t it funny that we can look back at Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, and clearly put these two in political boxes? These two men represented the beginnings of political division in our nation, and were both incredibly important in molding America into what it became. Now think about Franklin, and think about what policies he stood for. I bet that you can’t name any, yet can still name his accomplishments, for which there were many. Franklin was a renaissance man, he was an inventor (created bifocals), a journalist, a prolific writer, and a revolutionary. At the same time, Franklin was a pragmatist and a man of logic and reason. Think of his famous Join or Die cartoon, pushing unity between the then colonists to fight together or die separate. Think about the diplomacy Franklin performed, before America was even a nation, garnering the respect and aid of France which helped us gain our independence. Recognize that he helped edit the Declaration of Independence, ensuring that every last syllable was correctly placed and had ever-lasting meaning. No man can say that Franklin was not one of the great politicians and men of our history, yet you also can’t pin a political party on him. I think that’s what America’s new political party should strive for, being pragmatic, doing what is logical, promoting invention, unity, and reason above all else. Other politicians through history have played the Radical Centrist card, think of men like Teddy Roosevelt who identified as “Progressive Republicans”. Teddy did more to fight corrupt business and help the American environment than any liberal ever has because his Republican affiliation didn’t prevent him from taking good ideas from both sides of the spectrum. Local leaders have had a lot more success in recent times while running on these values, with men like Jesse Ventura and Angus King winning governorships in states and finding mass approval and success. Now more than ever there’s a need for a new option in politics, one that isn’t tainted by the backwards thinking of the right or the regressive tendencies of the left. To be clear, we need to have a party, and not just join a partisan side if our generation has any hope of going past small government wins and moral victories.

The Beliefs of the Radical Center

Just like any other good ideology, the Radical Center has a website, which can be found here: https://radicalcentrism.org/resources/vision/appendix-a-radical-centrist-principles/

What I’ve linked to is the list of core principles that the Radical Center promotes, and I want to summarize them here.

1) Anti-Partisanship

The idea of being anti-partisan, and not just non-partisan is crucial these days. Being non-partisan in my mind is almost worse than being too far extreme on one side. Think about how annoying people are who pretend that they’re apolitical, and that they don’t understand why any of these things matter because we’ll, “all die some day man”. Everybody has beliefs in something, and the point of the center is making sure that the beliefs and ideas that matter actually get represented and taken care of. Being partisan is equally destructive to this goal, as it forces people into agreeing with things purely because their team or tribe does as well, which is counter-intuitive to rational thought. Instead, we need to fight partisanship, and every idea we have needs to come from genuine belief, which has been crafted through large amounts of thought and reason.

2) Borrowing From What Already Works & 4) Synthesize the Good & 5) Cafeteria Politics

Self-explanatory, but important to reiterate until we turn blue. A major critique I had in the Sanders campaign was the fact that his followers accurately identified many correct issues with the current system (corrupt banks, political fraud, lack of representation) yet also saw full blown revolution and change as the only solution. This led to a lot of bad new ideas getting brought up due to the desire to only create new things and destroy old ones. Radical Centrism is different, if an idea works there’s no need to destroy it. Things are worth analyzing, and if necessary fixing. The fact is that all sides have valuable ideas and insights, or else they wouldn’t have found any success in the first place. If centrists can appropriate working ideas, and create new ones when necessary, we’ll find ourselves in a prosperous situation. Long story short: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but if the water is filthy it might be time to clean it.

3) Be Creative and Out of the Box & 6) All Positions Should Be Researched

There’s a reason why political science degrees exist. Politics is constantly shifting and changing, and there’s more than one way to solve issues. The best thinkers that we study today were pioneers at their time, which is why I find it funny whenever people mock someone like Rand for creating modern philosophy. Just remember that if you don’t understand something, it doesn’t make that person wrong, it means you have learning to do before you can then analyze their work. Constantly progressing is a crucial element to the cause, as the needs of the people always changes. Remember, being the smartest person in the room is always a benefit.

7) Have a Preference for Market Solutions to Problems

This is the most crucial difference in my opinion between the Radical Center and Libertarianism. The center values the market and all the good it can do. Health care, education, and more all increase in value when left open to the market and people’s desires. Adam Smith was right in saying that people’s desires are best served when they get to choose how to fulfill them, and any coercion in their desires only creates unhappiness. That being said, there are times when the government taking control of something benefited us. We can thank having highways, the internet, and space travel to government control over a societal need. The importance here is to put exhaustive thought and effort into these issues, before choosing what is best for the people and their future.

8) Ideas Should Only Be Moral & 9) Constitution Above All Else

There’s a worrying movement in postmodern political thought that tries to make morality subjective, and then strip it from our lives. Politicians now demean religion, artists demean families, and the people stray ever further from leading moral lives. This is only a recipe for disaster, and these viewpoints have been responsible for embroiling us in the never-ending wars in the Middle East, as well as creating these un-winnable political conversations in topics like abortion and drug use. Also of importance is that the American Constitution is held above all else in terms of policy and law. Our Founders were brilliant men, and people in the center don’t buy it when liberals claim that the founders couldn’t predict advancements in weaponry when they made the second amendment, and other such ridiculous revisions. Other bodies of law are obviously respected, but the American Constitution got a lot right, and is the overarching body of law in this land.

10) A Dedication to Responsible Free Speech

Free speech is an inalienable right in America, and we should all value that it is a right that is uniquely American. Radical Centrists are ashamed of the censoring that is taking place by the current left, as well as the past transgressions of the right. Think about the fact that the same video games that Evangelical Christians hated in the past are now hated by the Progressive Left, for typically similar reasons. While free speech should never be tempered with, a massive element of being part of the Radical Center is that citizens should use this speech tastefully and with respect for the other person. Debating is good, and it shouldn’t devolve into a shouting match or name calling. Criticizing things is fine, but devolving into the use of slurs is juvenile. Nobody would be prosecuted for using such speech, but at the same time it wouldn’t be supported. This is a major issue I see in the Alt-Right and even President Trump these days, who use their 1st Amendment Rights to be cruel, juvenile bullies to their opponents. While I understand the sentiment, it’s important also to recognize when it’s time to be the bigger person, and also that politics is a grown up sport.

Are You In?

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If you’ve read these beliefs and felt like you agree with most, if not all of them, then I hope you continue to read my blog series on the idea of the Radical Center. While a lot of these beliefs seem redundant, closely examine both political parties in America and ask yourself if any of them truly represent even half of these values. Now, more than ever, we need a voice in politics, and if the two major parties aren’t going to do it then we should carve ourselves a place in the political discussion. I was inspired to buckle down and do this blog because of my favorite YouTuber Colin Moriartiy, and his video today on the need for a new center. Worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDkh1UaW3do&ab_channel=Colin%27sLastStand

I’ll be talking in future blogs about what we can do to get involved with local politics, as well as what a Radical Center take would be on a lot of hot button issues. We can’t afford to keep standing on the sidelines and letting people three times our age destroy our countries and sell our lives away. We all have the power to take our country into our own hands, and we can do it, all you have to do is join in.

4 thoughts on “The Need For Radical Centrism: An Introduction

  1. The label ‘radical centrism’ has never caught on, because it really doesn’t make sense. What you describe here is just what most centrists & moderates (roughly – there is obviously a range of opinions) think, which isn’t radical by any stretch of that term – tens of millions of people fall in the vast chasm on the Nolan chart between liberal, conservative, libertarian and authoritarian.

    The only point where we part ways is where you point toward Colin Moriarty as an example of what you’re talking about. His views are squarely in the libertarianism spectrum – he is no centrist or moderate.

    This “new center” / “third way” already exists, is growing and more power to people in the libertarian / classical liberal spectrum for getting more organized online… but the issue stances of people like Moriarty and Rubin aren’t any closer to that of centrists & moderates than average liberals or conservatives.

    He’s absolutely right that extreme elements are pulling the two parties farther from center every year, but while that specific poll he talks about in the video you linked to leaves out those that don’t fit into the labels offered, other polls cover the entire spectrum and there is even less appetite for libertarian / classical liberal spectrum thinking than there is for liberalism and conservatism.

    He just is projecting – no matter how much they try to spin who they are by trying to relabel themselves to sound more centrist, the centrists & moderates that make up the widening gap between the two parties have no interest in fringe ideas like gutting social security and medicaid, slashing taxes and especially his ideas on healthcare spending, which are even more extreme than the GOP healthcare plans are, which is polling at less than 15% support right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for engaging and I feel you express very valid points. If I may counter, I’d like to defend myself on several of these statements.

      First off I recognize the almost oxymoronic nature of “radical centrism” which is the reason I have a desire to adopt it. I find the redundant nature of being “radically” in the center humorous, but also indicative of the need for young Americans to rally behind a party that promises big change. I recognize that what I describe here is what most moderates think, but my point here is first to establish what most Americans either want, or can compromise on, and second bring up these stances as rational view points to people in my generation. Since I attend a major college campus I find that I only see students engaged politically on one side or the other, with those not engaging left feeling either scared to jump in and be judged or finding themselves without a political home due to extreme views of both sides. Tying back into the name “radical centrist” I know plenty of people who want to be largely involved with political groups if they only had a group of people to rally behind without it being an Antifa march or a pro-life rally.

      Second, I feel as if you misunderstand for my proposal of a “Radical Centrist” movement for me not understanding what centrism is. I recognize Moriarty is more Libertarian (funny because Libertarians I know consider him a moderate Republican) and that Rubin is a Classical Liberal, but I cite them because they are both mouthpieces for a rising movement that offers an alternative to the mainstream two party system. I guess throughout this I should’ve clarified the difference between establishing a Centrist platform, and praising and suggesting people who differ from the two-party norms.

      Finally, as for your criticisms of Moriarty and Rubin for being as far from centrism as the two parties are, I respectfully disagree in that there’s a difference between the more libertarian ideals those two possess in theory, versus the actual practices committed by both parties. I feel that both figures do a good job in pointing out the need to find middle ground and rational government, and they (just as I did) don’t do a great job at differentiating universal ideas the growing center desires, from the more radical and libertarian ideals they might personally possess.

      To sum up, my Radical Centrism series is going to act as a means to establish not only common ground between my current and future friends and allies, but to serve as a basis of sort in my future attempts to actually organize politically on both my campus and my friend’s campuses. I really do appreciate your feedback here as I recognize from now on I should probably clear up what is personal philosophy (either from myself or people I recommend) and what the actual proposed platforms of mine are, as well as denoting any possible biases or radical ideas. I really appreciate you being so thorough in your comment, and I hope my response comes back with no malice, as I intended none.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not redundant, it’s just not fitting. You can use it if you want, but for most it just comes off like a middle aged adult badly using outdated slang to seem cool to kids. Different versions of the term have been used since the 60’s.
        ” I recognize that what I describe here is what most moderates think, but my point here is first to establish what most Americans either want, or can compromise on, and second bring up these stances as rational view points to people in my generation.”
        That’s great – keep it up!
        I totally agree that there are areas that centrists and other non-major party groups can work together, especially on things like corruption and election reform.
        No malice expressed or read between the lines 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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