When you're in a position of privilege, even the relative kind, it can be easy to dismiss the concerns of those on the receiving end of your leaders' destructive actions. If you have access to health care, it's no challenge to say the idea of single payer universal health care is unrealistic or that it's not politically feasible. If you haven't felt the effects of neoliberal trade deals like NAFTA, haven't been impacted by a criminal justice system designed to keep poor and nonwhite people incarcerated, or haven't had to live on a $7.25 minimum wage, you can comfortably say those who want to get rid of these policies are unserious radicals. And if your community isn't being literally pummeled by another operation of the U.S. military empire, you can feel reasonable in saying "we're always at war, what's one more?"
So it's only natural that as Democratic Party loyalists were responding to my previous article with all the obligatory hostility towards anything not approved by the party bosses, among the far more typical ad hominen attacks were actual arguments like "as I've said, if you want to beat the far right you need to go through the center." That remark's author was concurred by the other pro-establishment liberals on the thread; indeed, this silly Berniecrats' calls for things like health care for all and living wages are just the ravings of an extremist. You need to appeal to the center if you want to get anything done in the first place.
Oh right, the "center." I hadn't thought of that. No matter that representing such supposedly radical goals would be a dynamic electoral strategy, as both the public opinion polls and the fact that Bernie Sanders won last year point towards. And no matter that those goals are the only path we have to addressing climate change, ending the paradigm of perpetual war, and bringing about social and economic equality.
All those mainstream polls saying Berniecrats' goals are supported by the vast majority of the country are fake, after all, and all those well documented incidents of voter suppression and electoral fraud in the 2016 Democratic primaries are conspiracy theories. So let's pat each other on the back for defending the "center."
Meanwhile, the politicians, top Democratic officials, and major media figures who these sensible "centrists" support for also representing "moderation" aren't exactly living up to those values. They're going on television calling the Syrian missile strikes that have killed 9 civilians, including 4 children, as well as brought us within an inch of World War Three, "beautiful."
They're using the most incendiary language possible in regards to America's extremely delicate situation with Russia-which, it can't be reiterated enough, is a nuclear power. They're helping confirm Trump cabinet nominees that want to further expand America's already Orwellian surveillance and police states.
This isn't the first time the "center" hasn't quite exemplified moderation. It was "moderate" Democrats in the House and the Senate who enabled the passage of the Fourth Amendment-obsolescing 2001 Patriot Act, and it was a "moderate" Democratic president who's expanded Bush's surveillance state to Thought Police-esque levels.
It was the same "moderate" president who's committed the country to thirty years and a trillion dollars of new nuclear weapons program spending while pushing us into a new Cold War with Russia in the last weeks of his term.
And more broadly, it's the "moderate" Democratic Party that's done half the work towards creating an unprecedented plutocracy, bringing the climate to the brink of collapse, and destabilizing the middle east several times over.
And when the circumstances provide the Trump administration an opportunity for really letting loose in regards to authoritarianism and military aggression, perhaps in the form of a North Korean nuclear attack that can easily be blamed on Russia, there's little doubt how these "moderate" leaders will take charge. Only in the interests of not approaching things through too extreme an ideological lens, they'll go along with the war effort, the Trumpian autocracy effort, and all the rest.
No use standing up for constitutional freedoms and an at least survivable degree of world conflict; if we want to stop the far right, we need to go through the center.
Then enter the one part of this coming development that isn't so certain: will the present defenders of these "centrists" change their views on so-called moderate liberalism when establishment Democrats are partnering with Trump to end the pretense of democracy?
To be fair, I'm sure many of them will. But the unfortunate reality is that sometime soon, we're going to see liberals joining in on the coming frenzy of self-destructive nationalism in jingoistic solidarity with the authoritarian right. Fortunately, those on both the far left and the far right largely don't feel comfortable enough with the status quo, as those in the "center" evidently are, to support it.
And as the anti-establishment left and right unite around our shared goal of taking down the power structures these "moderates" feel the need to defend, I suggest we should stop playing into their rhetorical hands by calling them centrists. It's time to refer to the "center" as what it now represents: an extreme and completely immoderate agenda.