If you’re going to make a critique of American centrism, reading Radical Centrism: The Future of American Politics is a must-read because it’ll give you a better idea what the folks in Washington have been trying to do behind the scenes. There are a few common-sense proposals in there that I think most Americans will agree with — but unfortunately it got bogged down in partisanship and most of the ideas here have gone unrealized.
Since you’re talking specifically about the left, though, I think it’s fair to point out that they’ve been guilty of the similar kind of “vagueness” that you’ve critiqued in your article — more civic engagement is nice, sure, but what sorts of policies or methods are you going to propose? What’s going to actually make a difference?
It’s really not that complicated, really: the left needs to make unions popular and viable again. The increase in inequality directly correlates with the strength of unions in the U.S. as a social and political force, so what needs to be done seems pretty clear to me. But, the left needs to retire identity politics because it’s getting in the way of the universalized mentality needed to have a unified collective front. I still see a lot of them holding onto it very dearly because hyper-targeted marketing in consumer products tend to reinforce the idea that being an independent, “free” individual is the more important than being part of a bigger movement where everyone can join.
You let go of one thing to gain something more valuable — it’s possible to meet people half way if the problem is well understood and discussed in civil, non-existential terms. That’s what real centrism is…or supposed to be, anyway.