“Extreme partisanship is the problem; Centrism is the solution. ”
The biggest threat to America’s short term success and long term survival is partisanship. It is ravaging our country from the inside. Partisanship divides us into rival factions, makes our public policies less effective, and increases the power of special interests. We as voters need to demand better. But what should we demand?
A majority of Americans are independents or moderates, but our political system is dominated by the extremes of both parties and their supporting special interests which only increases partisanship. These politicians’ first priority is the short term gains of their party not the long term success of our country. We should demand less party servants and more public servants. We should demand less ideologues pushing party agendas and more Americans advancing the national interest. However, we will never get that if we keep electing ideologues and extremists. We need to elect more centrists.
Centrists (Independents, Moderate Democrats, and Moderate Republicans) are the only candidates and elected officials who have enough independence from their party’s leadership, political base, and special interests to offer innovative reforms and promote common sense solutions. Centrists offer a third option which combines the best ideas of both parties with innovative reforms for the 21st century. Instead of adhering to the outdated ideologies of the two parties, centrists focus on finding new ideas and pragmatic solutions. But because their ideas are new they do not have a constituency that supports them and the special interests that will be affected by them fight to save the status quo.
In addition, the political system is rigged against centrists. Primaries need to be reformed so that the political parties, their extreme activists, and their supporting special interests no longer control them. And the design of congressional districts which are created by the parties to favor themselves needs to be assigned to nonpartisan commissions. All of which would help to level the playing field so that moderates and centrists have more of a chance to be elected. Thus making our political system and government more representative of its people.
But there remains one problem that will continue to marginalize centrists. Centrists cannot compete politically with ideologues. Ideologues have a specific set of principles and policies which they market themselves on. For Republicans it is conservatism and the principles of small government, less taxes, and free trade. Voters know what they are voting for. But centrists do not have that luxury. What does it mean to be a centrist? It cannot just be consistent message of taking the middle course between the two parties. It has to be a message that differentiates us from the extremists and ideologues. It also has to be a message that unites centrists around common objectives. Centrists need a coherent message to campaign on.
One of the main objectives of The Pragmatic Center is to determine what that message should be. I believe that we cannot promote an ideology that will straightjacket us into party servants as progressivism does for Democrats and conservatism does for Republicans. I also believe that we need to promote an ideology or set of principles of our own. Groups such as the New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council promote a moderated progressivism that is hard to differentiate from the special interests dominated far left. We need our own coherent message that is flexible enough to change with the times and on the issues while at the same time direct enough to guide us towards common objectives.
What should that message be?