The 2020 election is just over a year away, but there is already a long list of candidates running on the Democratic ballot. In June next year, the DNC will hold their primary debates in Milwaukee with over 20 candidates participating. Those who lean anti-establishment have had their eyes on Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, but it’s easy to forget that they are both polling below 2%. At the top are still Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and at the very top with 27%, Joe Biden.
Juan Ayala| United States
Sherrod Brown and Amy Klobuchar are Democratic Senators. They are not loud voices in the Senate chamber or on social media. However, in an era where the left wing of the democratic party has free reign on mainstream media outlets, they represent those lost in the middle.
At its core, public policy appeases the masses. The roots of democracy dig into public input. For that reason, I propose rooting for the candidates that rarely get much attention: Centrists. Not everyone belongs to the far-left or right. However, the candidates on the ballots are.
Moving further to the end
“Both sides can be seen as equally insane.” To many people, this statement rings true. For others, it shows how polarizing our politics can be. Now more than ever, people are voting the idea of centrism out. In fact, many moderate Republicans were replaced with further right Republicans in last years midterms. Unfortunately, media outlets constantly give the louder and more radical voices a microphone. As a result, voter turnout is on the rise, while Republican enthusiasm is down.
Victory for Centrists
The victory of Abigail Spanberger against Republican Incumbent Dave Brat, a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, is a prime example of a centrist candidate rising over a more extreme candidate. Spanberger, an ex-CIA agent, ran on a Centrist agenda in the rural 7th District of Virginia; a Republican stronghold. Her platform held many signature Democrat principles, but she opposed single-payer healthcare and vowed to vote against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. She was victorious by a margin of 2%. If she had been more progressive, she likely would not have won.
These results are not across the board. However, if fully embraced, more voters would be happy with the actual legislative policy being produced in Congress. Congressional approval is at a low point, and it has been there for a while now. If the middle ground was more represented and given more attention, there would be less extreme candidates winning elections. There would also fewer stalemates in the legislative process. Centrists would, not only enact more common sense measures but also bring more logical ideas to the floor.
How do we define Centrism?
However, it is without a doubt that Centrism is a subjective term. Your middle ground may be different than mine. Another argument from the New York Times quotes that Centrists are hostile and wish for the destruction of democracy.
The future of politics with Centrism
The citizens of the United States want Congress to work together and do their jobs. In the House of Representatives almost every viewpoint in recognized-whether you are pro-life, pro-amnesty, or pro-single-payer. However, we need more reasonable and logical candidates to run on issues that everyone can agree on, while putting their personal issues aside. With direction, time, and accountability, Centrism would prosper and radical agendas would die in the primary ballot box.
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Teagan Fair | United States
Obviously, libertarianism is not as popular as modern liberalism or modern conservatism, nor is the Libertarian Party as popular as the Democrats or the Republicans. But if it’s not this well known, how known exactly is the ideology? What do youth know? What do adults know?
If I were to personally define libertarianism, I would say ‘a philosophy and/or consistent ideology advocating for liberty and minimal government intervention in the lives of the citizens, economically, socially and politically.’
I interviewed both minors and adults alike on the subject, receiving very diverse responses between the two groups. Obviously, the adults were generally more informed on what the ideology was, however, tended to be more biased towards it since obviously, they had already formed their own political opinions over time.
I interviewed 15 students, most of which were in middle school. Many of those students could not identify with any particular political ideology or party, as well as the majority of the students did not know what the term ‘libertarian’ meant. I had several students identify as centrists, one as a Democrat, one as a Republican, one claimed ‘socially liberal and fiscally conservative’ which some would argue is what libertarianism itself is. The rest claimed that they did not know a political ideology to affiliate themselves with.
When asked what the term ‘libertarian’ meant, the student who identified themselves as a Democrat responded, “Libertarians dislike government intervention and they advocate for more rights.” I then followed up by asking him if he thought libertarianism was a good thing or a bad thing, and he responded with, “To some degree it is good, but only if it is moderate. Not if it gets out of hand.” This makes me question what his idea of moderate libertarianism was.
The one student that identified as a Republican also gave a response as to what the term meant. When asked for the definition, he responded with, “Well I know there are different types of libertarianism. They’re kind of like conservatives, but they want a small military and other stuff but I’m not sure beyond that.” When asked his personal opinion on the ideology, he responded that it was good, ‘I guess.’
There was a student that claimed that they didn’t know of an ideology to affiliate with, however still gave an interesting response. When asked what the word meant, they responded with, “They’re feminists. Kidding. It’s like, freedom, yay. Well, all of the parties are but like, it’s their core thing, I don’t even know.” When asked what their personal opinion on it was, they replied with, ” It’s good in principle, and bad in execution. Well, not necessarily bad as an ideology, but their supporters kind of make it a joke. They take their core values and blow them up to the point of hilarity. Except they’re dead serious. Which ends up in people not taking them seriously. Which is bad for whatever they’re trying to pass through. Stereotypes can have an unconscious effect in peoples’ minds.”
There was a student that identified themselves as a centrist. When asked what the term was, they responded with, “I think it’s a more conservative ideology because people I’ve seen identify as conservative before have also identified as libertarian later.” When asked their opinion on it, they said, “It’s kind of a good thing I think, because I know I share at least some opinions with them.”
As for one more somewhat humorous response, a student who claimed they didn’t have a political ideology, when asked what the term was, took a guess along the lines of, “I think it has something to do with a library. Oh, wait! Is it liberty? Either library or liberty.” Since they didn’t exactly have any idea what it was, obviously I did not ask them their opinion on the term. Several other students had claimed they had heard of it but had no clue what it was.
One adult who leaned liberal defined the term as, “Libertarians are kind of against rules and laws or certain things within society, and they push to deregulate a lot of things.” When asked their opinion, they said that it could be good, but it could get dangerous or out of hand if left too deregulated. You get the point. Every person who had a definition on the subject that I talked to, had a response along the same lines. I could throw in the words of every single person I talked to, but since it is all so similar, that would get redundant pretty quick.
We see a consistent idea that libertarianism is about less government intervention, which definitely isn’t wrong. As for opinions, we saw that out of the responses listed, several of them had talked about the idea that it is good to some extent but can get out of hand if taken to higher levels. Of course, no one that gave a response identified as a libertarian themselves, so it is understandable that many of them would see moderate forms of it as more reasonable, as any ideology would say of another. It also strikes curiosity in me as to what people would define as ‘moderate libertarianism.’ However, the consistent idea that a level higher than ‘moderate libertarianism’ would get out of hand quick, more than likely comes from a personal bias, which is predictable. Of course, there are hints of personal bias all around the answers if you look carefully enough. For example, the student claiming to be a Republican specifically mentioned that libertarians advocate for a smaller military, which likely comes from the fact that he may disagree with that aspect of it, even though he said that he thought that the ideology, in general, was good.
Obviously, as mentioned before, our youth and adults alike are exposed to the two main parties and their platforms much more than to the ideas of liberty. Perhaps in the future our youth and adults alike will be exposed to what I would say is a more liberating and moral option.
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By Jason Thompson | United States
Political opinions are like assholes – we all have one – and for the most part, nobody wants to see or hear yours expressed if it does not validate their own preconceived notions and particular worldview. It just seems so impossible that a person on the “left” could have anything at all in common with somebody on the “right. ” Aside from tremendous failures in communication, there tends to be, and I am speaking from my own personal experiences, an apparent inability to see somebody on the other side of the supposed “spectrum” as truly human. I would go so far as to say that American political culture is diseased.
Echo chambers and political tribalism abound.
I would like to introduce myself. In articles to come, I will do my best to focus on objective reporting of facts and happenings, albeit from a libertarian standpoint, but this right here, folks, is an opinion piece. It is the story of my own personal experiences and how they have come to shape and define the beliefs and principles that set the stage for a political bildungsroman twenty-five years in the making.
I was born into a working class, mostly Irish family of eight children in the small town of Mount Airy, Maryland. My father is a roofer and a farmer from Southern Virginia. His people were old-school Southern Democrats, and my mother’s people were liberals from Maryland, Western Pennsylvania, and Missouri. This familial political history has been integral in shaping my own conceptions of identity and the principles and values I hold dear. Over the years, my principles have largely held steadfast, but the manner in which they have been expressed politically and ideologically has transformed radically.
I used to be a filthy commie. A God-damned Marxist inspired radical who raged against what I saw as a system which forced my father to grind his bones into the dirt to feed eight children and to scrape by in a world which that crushed the poor while enriching the elite. Little did I know, my father was the ultimate rebel. He was agorist in every sense of the word.
And I am his son.
I was angry. I wanted vengeance. And as the saying goes, I was certainly born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.
How could somebody work so hard and find themselves constantly scraping by just to survive? My family members were Democrats. My great grandmother’s sister was the second woman to travel to the USSR after WWII and was on an FBI blacklist during the McCarthy era. How could I not do my forefathers justice by believing what I truly thought would raise the poor out of impoverished misery? My heart was in the right place, but I was trying to build a foundation and ideological home with a hammer and a sickle.
And I wondered why the house I had built kept crashing down under the weight of objective scrutiny.
Marx, Trotsky, democratic socialism, mutualism, George Orwell – these were my political fodder. I ate it up at the expense of intellectual honesty. I blogged about it. I towed the party line. But from a young age, the seeds of entrepreneurship and personal responsibility had been planted, and those two things were crucial in my journey towards libertarianism. The election cycles of 2012 and 2016 pushed me away from the extremes and helped me find a new home in a libertarian-inspired radical center.
Going to a small liberal arts school, I find it amazing that I was not further indoctrinated into the cult of social justice and Marxist lunacy. Perhaps it was because I was surrounded by truly leftist professors – useful idiots the whole lot of them – that I raged against what I was coming to see more and more for what it truly was – rhetoric and faux outrage not truly grounded in historical or economic analysis.
I started to gravitate towards right-libertarianism and men like Larry Sharpe, Lew Rockwell, and Ron Paul. Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential run was fundamental in bringing me to what I saw as my new truth. I started delving down the rabbit hole further and further and recognized the myth of true freedom from a tyrannical state in the modern age. I could see that our society had strayed far from the spirit and text of the US Constitution.
I felt vindicated. Here was truth. I was more right than God, but man, did I still have a lot to learn. Fast forward to the 2016 election cycle and I was hooked. I was a full blown political junkie and I jumped right into the firefight.
I was an ideological soldier fighting my own personal jihad against the system of leftist professors who had lied to impressionable college kids and corporate stooges who had misled the American public. Boy did I alienate a lot of people. Vitriol and political hatred were in the air. People who I had used to agree with politically at one point, and whom I had considered good people (they were, I was being a pretentious prick), became my ideological enemies in a battle waged on social media.
Slacktivist, Supreme. That was me.
I lost a lot of friends over what I now see was inane bullshit and a failure on my own part to adequately communicate my ideas. I drove off the people most in need of hearing what I still believe is the truth.
That is when I discovered radical centrism, and began to see that libertarianism may be much more of a centrist ideology than I had presupposed and that a lot of the hatred and vitriol could be extinguished through communication and approaching the issues facing American society from an open-minded pursuit of outreach beyond our base. We accomplish this, as a team, not by abandoning our principles, but by focusing on pragmatism and effective marketing.
Somebody I was in a discussion with last night said “you can be more right than God, but if you don’t communicate effectively than you have nothing.” Our movement is so consumed with ideological infighting by keyboard warriors that the voting public cannot take us seriously. We argue incessantly over drivel the average American neither has the background nor the luxury to care about, and in doing so push ourselves into smaller and smaller sub-groups to the point that we can’t even compete with the duopoly on major issues facing ALL Americans. We’re all on the same ship piloted by a political elite which perpetuates this false dichotomy between left and right. Even the filthy internet commies.
Divide and conquer.
We are playing right into their hand. We have tightened the yoke around our own necks by failing to see each other as Americans and to effectively communicate our ideas to the wider public.
Someone once said that getting libertarians to agree and to organize coherently is like herding cats. It can’t be done.
Well, I grew up herding pigs, cows, sheep, and goats. I’m good at it.
Now I am going to try to herd cats.
I could go on and on, and my editor is probably going to grill me for writing such a long piece. But this is my story, and am I being detained?