All posts filed under: Centrism

America Has Serious Problems. It’s Time to Stop Blaming Them on ‘Trumpism’

Donald Trump may have been defeated in his quest for re-election. But not so the shadowy ideology he supposedly champions. “Even in defeat, the embers of Trumpism still burn in the Republican Party,” declares the Washington Post. “Trumpism wasn’t repudiated,” warns a New York Times columnist. “Trump may be on his way out—but Trumpism marches on,” proclaims the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. At the Guardian, it’s “Trump lives on.” At the Chicago Tribune, “Trumpism has been vindicated.” The Daily Beast ran a piece entitled “This Isn’t Enough—We Wanted a Repudiation of Trumpism,” and, to hammer home the point, added an unsettling graphics banner that reads, “Dark Victory.” And what is this “Trumpism” of which they speak? It’s hard to say, since Trump himself was always a recklessly unpredictable populist who changed tune unpredictably to suit his own ambitions and vanities. But in the way the term is used journalistically, “Trumpism” often serves as a stand-in for all that is malignant in the world—a sort of Voldemort-like spirit nourishing itself on unicorn blood within the souls of …

Racial Justice: Don’t Abandon the Incrementalist Approach

Incremental policies to ameliorate racial disparities are facing declining support for a number of reasons: changing liberal attitudes, perceptions of unchanging racist barriers to black advancement, and an unwillingness to delay black success for another generation. This essay will document these three factors and explain why they do not negate the benefits of the incrementalist approach. Shifting liberal attitudes During the 1990s, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair won national elections twice by generally governing as centrist third-way candidates. A decade later, Barack Obama took the same path to victory. Recall his 2004 Democratic Convention speech that catapulted him to national prominence. Obama stated: Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. In the last …

A Poor Farrier’s Journey to Political Sanity

I’m a 26-year-old American working-class college dropout who owns and operates a small business. From the time the COVID-19 lockdown began, I’ve had to scramble to ensure that I could keep working. The company that employed me in northern Nevada had me working nearly full-time during the first quarter of 2020, doing repairs on federal buildings in the western states—a job that presented an opportunity for upward mobility and education within the building trades. But when governments abruptly restricted projects in March and April, and limited outside contractors from their facilities, the work dried up long enough to get me moving. So I moved to Northern California, where I’d previously lived and worked. Sleeping on the floor of a friend’s home near Sacramento to begin with, I reconnected with clients in need of wildfire risk mitigation, as well as handyman and landscape services. It’s been stressful juggling work, finding a place to live, and dealing with unexpected costs. Getting set up in a decent mobile home ate up about three-quarters of my savings. I felt …

Amidst the YouTube Junkies of MythCon, I Witnessed a New Kind of Radical Centrism

Late Saturday afternoon, police ordered the evacuation of the historic Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee because of a bomb threat. Along with hundreds of other MythCon attendees, I filed out in orderly fashion. While most of the crowd milled around City Hall, I went up to my hotel room at the neighbouring Intercontinental. But that building, too, was evacuated by police, because it sits adjacent to the Pabst. Across the street, a bride in white shuffled around nervously with her family. Her wedding reception was scheduled to begin shortly in the Intercontinental ballroom. These are the ordinary people who suffer when idiots phone in bomb threats. Eventually, we were all let back into the Pabst, and our conference resumed, amidst much gossip about what had motivated the bomb hoax. It says a lot about the ideologically heterodox nature of MythCon—a secular humanist and atheist meet-up organized by self-described “mythicists” seeking “to promote dialogue about culture, religion and freedom of thought”—that no one could be quite sure. The headliner was a popular YouTuber named Sargon of …

Are Centrists Really Most Hostile to Democracy?

Last week, David Adler published an article in the New York Times, in which he summarized his research on the relationship between political ideology and hostility to democracy. The recent rise of various populist movements in the West has caused many to fret that democratic norms and institutions may be at risk. The conventional wisdom is that extremists on the far-Left or far-Right are most threatening to these norms and institutions. But the conventional wisdom, Adler argues, is wrong. In the working paper he presents in the New York Times, he contends that, despite what pundits would have us believe, it’s actually centrists who are the most hostile to democracy and most supportive of authoritarian alternatives. As soon as the New York Times published his op-ed, Adler’s findings were promoted and circulated on social media by those on the Left and Right weary of being held responsible for democracy’s predicted demise. If—like me—you are not a centrist, then you may have found this gloating understandable. Centrists routinely accuse their political rivals of undermining democracy, and now here was evidence purportedly demonstrating that they are the …

Seeking Refuge in the Embattled Centre

A few days ago, Lindsay Shepherd, the Canadian free speech Joan of Arc, bloodied but unbowed by her brush with the grand inquisitors of Laurier University’s virtue squad, announced that she was no longer left-wing, and was taking up a position in the political centre. For months she had been courted and wooed by right-wing provocateurs and held up as an exemplar of courage in the face of her university’s nosey-parker thought police. She had been interviewed by Mark Stein, Jordan Peterson, and Dave Rubin among many other older and more sophisticated interlocutors in the wake of her dressing down, and vilified by some of the louder, more insistent puritans on the Left. This 23-year-old Master’s student quickly became a sensation on Twitter and YouTube, the newly made-up face on the prow of a ship slicing through choppy ideological seas. At once defiant and confessional, Shepherd declared that she had grown to distrust the motives and aspirations of left-wing “social justice warriors.” She explained that actions and attitudes like bike-riding and worrying about the environment …

We Are Living in Parallel Societies

Yesterday’s Italian election saw mainstream parties rejected, and anti-establishment parties such as the 5 Star Movement and anti-immigration League make big gains. Even Silvio Berlusconi did well relative to the centre-Left’s humiliating defeat. The map of election results shows a deeply divided country. As we have seen since 2016, such divisions are becoming the norm around the world. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re university-educated, agnostic or atheist, no longer live in your hometown, have traveled to different countries, are relaxed about cultural and demographic changes, binge-watch drama series on Netflix, speak a second language and perhaps even supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. Now imagine a person who is opposite in every one of those ways — and you have your typical Donald Trump supporter. “Identity politics” is becoming a pleonasm. Identity is politics and politics is identity. In the United States, Republicans have become the party of the left behind: predominantly white voters who sense the country is changing in ways that deprive them of power and status. Democrats, a coalition of minorities, millennials and …

Our Tribes and Tribulations

Disagreement has made disagreeable individuals of us all. News channels are littered with platitudes masquerading as thoughtful discussions. Individuals, convinced that the volume of their speech corresponds to the correctness of their arguments, contribute to the cacophony of tirades. The print media publish headlines assassinating opponents’ characters rather than their ideas. Swipes and scrolls lead us to trivial online quarrels which bleed into our personal conversations. Research from the Pew Research Centre suggests that 91 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats hold unfavourable views of the other. It would be unfair but tempting to lay the blame at the feet of politicians, public intellectuals, and journalists. But we, the people, are also complicit in this potentially slippery slope. Gathering by the campfire in our ideological tribes, we bask in the warm glow of unchallenged beliefs. We caricature arguments that do not fit neatly into our canonical jigsaw. Foregoing uncomfortable rumination in favour of rhetoric, we have helped to create and perpetuate a climate in which dissent is tolerated only for as long as it …