Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Those Pesky "Centrists"

In my recent post on conservatism, fellow blogger Mark Thompson had this to say about what he worried was me seeing centrism or moderation as an unqualified good:

The one point of contention I'd have with him is that he comes too close to
suggesting that moderation and centrism are both unqualified goods, an argument
with which I took issue here.

To me, centrism is a good only if it is the result of applying fundamental
principles to changing facts; centrism for its own sake can be every bit as
dogmatic as hyper-partisanship.

Mark has a point there. He has a link to a post from last year called "The Myth of the Moderate" where he argues that when it comes to appeals towards the "center" there is, in reality, not much there there. There is not a monolithic group called centrists who all believe one way on certain issues.

So does that mean that those who argue for a more dogmatic conservatism were right all along? No. Mark and I agree that the party need to reach out more, but I think he is correct that we need to stop calling it an appeal to the center, since the center varies so much from person to person. What does need to happen is to look at the times we live and make try to fashion conservative solutions to them. It's not that something like a centrist Republican doesn't exist, I happen to be one of them, but the "center" for me is different that it is for a centrist Democrat or at least it should be. A Centrist Conservatism, if such a thing exists, would be more willing to craft plans for the wide swath of American society that adhere to conservative themes.

Those of us who call ourselves "Centrist Republicans" need to explain what that means and what it means to create conservative solutions for American society. It's time move beyond a platittue to some actual ideas.

1 comment:

Mike at The Big Stick said...

This is where the waters get murky. I used to hate 'moderate' because it seemed to imply we were less serious than others or lacked conviction. I think in many ways 'centrist' could be synonymous with 'compromise'. Generally we are the ones who say, "let's meet the other side halfway." We'll take a good policy in lieu of a perfect one.