I was just thinking to myself just now that this is a great week to start a blog that will be tracking the ‘rise of the center’ (I should name something after that… wait…) of American politics, with all that has been coming out about centrist independents and moderates, but as I wrote those words just now, it occurred to me that this isn’t an abnormal week at all.
Over the last few months, I’ve been digging around for high quality centrist and independent bloggers, columnists and organizations, signing up for their email lists, RSS feeds and any other communications they have. What I’ve found, but is really only now just starting to sink in, is that it isn’t so much that there isn’t a constant stream of positive news coming out of what I call the ‘centrist groundswell’, but its that its so spread out that most centrists and moderates don’t notice.
That’s not merely because we don’t have a remotely fair number of centrist voices in the media, although that is true, but it’s also because the political news – mostly partisan dominated – chatter drowns it out among so much else that it gets lost among the clatter of the hyper-partisan noise machine.
Centrists Being Pushed Out of Major Parties
John Avlon’s post on CNN yesterday, on the power of independents and how the Democrats have pushed them towards the Republicans by ignoring us and moving too far to the left fiscally, is just another indicator of where things are going. That the author of two books specifically about independents and extremists on the left and right is now a regular columnist and guest on a major cable news network is just one more indicator of the growing realization that the center is rising.
That independent candidates for governor like Eliot Culter in Maine, Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Charlie Crist in Florida are serious contenders , and getting quite a bit of coverage, is even more of an indicator. We here mostly about how moderate to liberal republicans have been being purged from their party recently, but the process has been going on for some time, and is only now really coming to a head.
This groundswell of movement breaking away from the two major parties has been going on for some time, but only now are we actually seeing widespread, though not large – yet, tangible action on:
- Independent centrist candidates are getting more traction
- Independent &/or centrist organizations are growing
- Centrist third parties are gaining in membership and influence
- Moderate to centrist think tanks are getting more attention
- A centrist blogosphere is starting to gain more popularity
- & the mainstream media is finally catching on, to an extent
All indications point to a centrist groundswell building toward people losing faith in the corrupt, out of touch major parties building to critical mass… someday. The question is more, ‘how long will it take?’
How a Centrist Movement Could Play Out
What this critical mass could look like, nobody knows. A national centrist third party could emerge, or it could cause one or both parties to adapt, like Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose progressive party did in the early 1900’s. It could blow up in our faces and fall apart if we go all in with a singular personality, like Ross Perot, and they don’t end up working for the long-term good of the centrist big tent, or become a sustainable movement if we build it state by state, county by county… the old fashioned way – from the ground up.
As a great article in the Oshkosh Northwestern (edit: the article in question can no longer be found) says, we have a “rebellion in the middle” going on. The article describes the hurdles independent candidates face, which in many ways mirror hurdles that the two major parties have put up to make it harder for independent voters to vote in primaries and new centrist parties to gain their legal recognition.
Regardless of the success of any individual candidates, its clear that the momentum is moving in the right direction for centrist independents and moderates, and that this groundswell is showing signs of breaking out into a full fledged movement in some areas around the country.
As that happens, this site will be there covering all of it.
Editors Note – 2018: Looks like I was premature by about seven years. While I did see the early rumblings of what centrist independent groups and campaigns are seeing now, I was wrong in how long it would take to start breaking through. Hopefully it wont take another 7 years… but I think it might, unless we pick up the pace of growth exponentially (and that just isn’t happening). If you want the pace to speed up – it’s up to you, personally, to do something about it; choose an organization on this list of transparently funded centrist & moderate organizations and start donating monthly. That’s the missing piece… centrist and moderate organizations just plain have too little resources to have any chance of competing against the two major parties right now.