Is Being a Centrist a Bad Thing?


I’m asking seriously. I’m just perplexed by the news reports featured prominently both at the NYT and WaPo this morning about Sanders and Warren “holding Clinton’s feet to the fire.” Ignoring the prematurity of such discussions, when did it become so bad to be a centrist or build consensus? I’m happy for Sanders and Warren to have their rightfully due positions of power if the Democrats retake the majority in the Senate - I think everyone needs a seat at the table, but no governing will get done if we’re not willing to compromise. There are a lot of people out there who feel like the country is leaving them behind, and the rise of Trump was caused in no small part by the GOP deciding to pursue a “my way or the highway” approach to politics. Shouldn’t we strive for consensus incremental change, rather than jamming change down people’s throats? I’m ok with this on certain issues - moral imperatives like civil rights, where there really is only one right choice. But shouldn’t all politicians on the national stage, ESPECIALLY THE PRESIDENT, strive for a center-left or center-right position?

I dunno. I’m willing and happy to be told I’m wrong. But it seems like everyone just wants to go to their corner, and I worry for what happens going forward if we can’t make a deal anymore (esp if there is no political advantage to avoiding obstructionism).


Let’s cut a few more deals and incrementally drive the national debt up to 40T under HRC.


the irony and timing of the response is priceless.



How do you figure? If anything the “my way or the highway” approach has been taken by Obama through his issuance of Executive Orders. I’d also say that the entire Hillary Clinton email scandal is the embodiment of a “my way or the highway” approach. My guess is that you won’t agree with me on this, but it’s only fair to state the obvious.


I am not speaking for @geyser

But it is clear the Tea Party as embraced by the GOP does have policies that do not include all people.

-don’t have a good job its on you, work harder.
-don’t have an education work 5 jobs I did so should you.
-child out of wedlock sucks to be you.
-need welfare you are scum.

Meanwhile the GOP has refused to reform student loans allowing the Gvt to make BILLIONS off of students.

Promotes the wage and wealth gap by not presenting a national minimum wage tied to the CPI of each state.

Has really not come up with any new ideas about how to make life better for the average American since taking control of Congress.

I am not @geyser But when I hear a Democrat says “Let’s work together” the GOP has said NO. And we all know it.


To the question itself, is being a centrist a bad thing? I don’t think so. I think most Americans are centrists to a degree. They want negotiation and compromise because that is how they survive and deal with people personally and in business. If you want to get things done then chances are you have to be willing to work with one another, get buy-in, or negotiate for something that is acceptable when buy-in can’t be achieved. We do it every day.

When it comes to politics, many people only pay attention around election time, which is unfortunate. But, people know when things aren’t getting done by our elected officials. Just look at the approval rating of Congress. They don’t work the way that everyone else has to out in the real world. Everything is a give and take, except for politicians lately.

For people who are way into researching and discussing politics I think being a centrist is more difficult. You dig in on issues you are passionate about, but if we as a community had to make a decision about something I am sure everyone on this forum could reach some form of agreement despite having differences. You don’t need to be a centrist to get things done, just willing to move to the center when goals need to be achieved.

I wish your post was a little more “centrist” to be honest, but I respect the question.


Ideologues historically make great leaders of movements but lousy bereaucrats when it comes to making sure that the nuts & bolts of government get turned. Because of their uncompromising nature, they’re just bad at getting things done in an intentionally adversarial & cumbersome system of government.

Wonky centrists make the sausage. They also make sure that the roads get paved and the mail gets delivered.’

Centrists are hardly sexy or inspiring, but they are the WD40 that keeps the gears turning ,


Split a baby with a leftest and you get a dead baby.


Right on!

IMHO we see less centrists now because of the Reagan effect. Reagan did immeasurable harm with his simplistic and mean ideas and approach. (“It’s your money, not theirs.”) Under his leadership, the appreciation for moderate and responsive governing was tossed. Indeed, the rule of law was tossed. Remember Ed Meese? But, I suppose you could also go back to Nixon/Agnew years with the “America Love It or Leave It” sentiment. For a lot of people I know on the left, the dissing of centrism is linked to Bill Clinton – so 1993. And this sentiment was given some expression in the HRC v. Bernie primary fight.

This excerpt from $2 Dollars a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer was excerpted in Salon. In 1976 with Reagan’s POTUS bid, he “seized on a way to differentiate himself from his more moderate opponent.” The stepchild referred to is the increase in children born to unwed mothers.

it was that Ronald Reagan, preparing his run for the presidency during a period when discontent with this stepchild of the welfare state was particularly high, found an issue with broad appeal and seized on it as a way to differentiate himself from his more moderate opponent. His stump speech soon began to feature the “welfare queen”—a villain who was duping the government in a grand style. Unlike the average American, she wasn’t expected to work or marry. The father or fathers of her offspring were given a pass on the responsibility of caring for the children they sired.

The full excerpt is phenomenal. I’d imagine the book is also. Here’s the link to the book, itself.


The conservatives cannot compromise any longer. This is why we are at an impasse.The country has been allowed to go so far left that anyone who wants to reverse the course is going to have a monumentally hard time. I believe Donald J Trump, as flawed as he is, was chosen because he gets it. Whether he gets in or not, there is a new movement and possibly a new strong party that is brewing … strong brew… in this Nation.


A moderate (or centrist) has political principles. They are mid way between the left and the right. They are not avoiding anything other than the extremes of the political spectrum. Just like there are a range of positions on both the left and the right, there are a range of positions between the left and the right.


This is the best reply I have read on this site in months. Spot on!

Keep up the good work.


Personally, my concept of centrist does not align with the definition we have been given, lead and coaxed to use nor do I believe that the ‘center’ of an issue is always the right, moral or correct place to create legislation… As a matter of fact, it seldom is.

The total left/right spectrum we have been given to believe in is suppose to represent the total of all legitimate political thought and discourse and anything that resides outside of the Democratic and Republican parties is somehow subversive or a group of flake headed wingers. As represented in the picture below we are also given to believe the authoritarian and non authoritarian is represented by each of these two parties. Consequently the Centrist, the peacemaker resides in the middle acting as the virtue of all the radical outliers.

Now it is true that being a liberal or a conservative does not in and of itself equate to being an authoritarian however much of the policy that each want to see made into law most assuredly is. It is most certainly fair to say that few if any current politicians seek the accolades of being a superior statesman over the quest for money and power rather. So I personally see both of these political parties as authoritarian. I see the liberals in the communist vain and the republicans in the Fascist vain… Interestingly enough… as a pejorative both parties call each other out in just those terms.

The actual (IMHO) political spectrum is more accurately depicted in this representation:

In its labeling it does present some distortions thou… one is the use of the word Socialist and its placement on the spectrum. No one can doubt that communism and fascism have their basis in socialism yet they are somehow depicted as both being left of that philosophy… But it most certainly puts them in the authoritarian left camp… Another distortion is that it has spectrum does not include anarchy which is that absence of government

Now what this chart shows us and I somewhat disagree with is that the Centrist… is in fact a socialist who sit outside democratic majority rule… who sit outside of the republican form of government…

So it would seem to me that anyone who professes that Centrists come from a position of conviction… I would have to ask… what conviction? Placating the extremes isn’t a conviction as it must automatically shift as any extreme might shift either closer or farther from the center.

My question to the Centrist who assumes the medium or the peacemaker, if you consider a proposed piece of legislation, regardless of how seemingly reasonable, as being against the letter and spirit of the constitution…do you take a hard line against the proposal or do you compromise the law of the land? Things like the individual mandate made the proposal 100% untenable and yet if you apply the word ‘principled’ to your deliberations, then you become an obstructionist to progress.

No matter how much the left would like to co-opt the constitution in the name of progressivism… it was clearly written to allow people to carry on their lives in a non aggressive way. So for me the Centrist who is principled doesn’t look to the positions put forth by the Democrats or Republicans but by the people who wish to impose authoritarian rule verse those who believe that people, given that they must suffer the responsibility of their own decision should in fact have free will.

This is how I perceive the centrist: Centrists have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts. If one party declared that the earth was flat our ‘balance’ media would report the headline of: ‘Views Differ On Shape of Planet’

Anything outside of this contrived spectrum rests control of individual rights and responsibility from those who work to position themselves in control… anything inside that spectrum takes away liberty…


There is absolutely nothing wrong with forming a principled political platform that appeals to 51% of the population or, if you can do it, a greater percentage, so that you can win elections. You cannot form such a platform without some level of compromise, but you can remain principled, set boundaries, show flexibility.

But the committed centrist (Friedman comes to mind) seems to believe that compromise means crossing the aisle to help the other party pass legislation that you oppose. Many in this camp are reasonably characterized as deeming it to be unduly partisan when a Democratic majority won’t change its legislation to attract more Republican votes, but shift the conception of partisanship when the Republicans are in power, such that Democrats are supposed to support Republican legislation in the name of bipartisanship. Sometimes a political compromise is necessary, just to get things done, but it’s not reasonably characterized as centrism and it’s not an ideal.

It’s like they posit themselves as holding the wisdom of Solomon, but not getting that cutting the baby in half is not what made Solomon’s decision wise – only one side was right.


Being a Centrist appears to be the sanest, most balanced perspective. Yet the original poster belies their own prejudice by presenting Trump and the GOP as fully self serving. Disclaimer here - I did not vote for Trump. The GOP agenda may be different than yours, and certainly different than mine, but the overt irony here is that the Democrats ‘did things their way’ or those who stood their own Centrist - or right - ground were vilified, attacked, and accused of being those evil Republicans. Who, in the last eight years, dared then be a Democrat unless they were willing to accept the demands placed upon them by their fellow Democrats?
Indeed, Trump was elected because the Democrats not only ate their own for not upholding an agenda so Left that it was ‘no longer in America,’ an agenda which vilified Centrist Democrats, but which mutilated American laws and values to usurp not only power but the Democrat nominations, ousting Bernie Sanders with DNC and Clinton collusion, ousting Republican candidates, with the acknowledged help from the major media, to place the ‘unwinnable’ Trump against Clinton, and with the FBI, CIA, IRS overtly in the Democrat pocket, all with the help of the media, academia and Hollywood, which has proliferated the Democrat agenda - to hysterical proportions. Trump was voted because people rightly do not trust the Democrats and because the Democrats left us no other option than Trump. That non-Trump supporters adamantly refuse this reality is their fault - and a problem they thrust upon us all as they celebrate their riot of hatred, blinding themselves to any truth which does not mirror the Democrat rhetoric, and which puts us all at peril; Not just Trump, not just his supporters, not just the Republican party, but all Americans - and their allies. A weak America is a weak West. And the goal of the One World Order Democrats has and remains the weakening of America, to punish Americans for a myriad of crimes which benefit a Global community only in the satisfaction of its grudges and the power it can now take from the once greatest Democracy on the planet.

To be Centrist is to put aside your grudges and look at things with balance, to consider the motivation and the outcome, and to choose to stand by that which is correct, not right or left.


Really? Prove your case.