The centrist has a keen interest in maintaining their privileged position in the political community. He or she gets to remain above the fray; to moralize about the need for compromise without defining clear positions; to serve as a convener and power broker; to critique both sides and play them off each another; to act like the only sober adult in the room. Such a position often confers unique advantage inside the beltway, affording access to powerful officials, to reporters seeking the “balanced” view, and to lucrative support from interested parties.
…is salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Such is the dilemma of the professional centrist. Like the suppression of climate science in the fossil fuel industry, the readily available evidence of asymmetric polarization is taboo among centrists. To recognize and fully grapple with it threatens the livelihood, the essential raison d’être, of the centrist. For the centrist must maintain equivalence and balanced criticism toward both sides, and acknowledging a higher degree of extremism on one side would undermine their bipartisan credentials.
Today, centrism lies in shambles, crushed under years of escalating asymmetric polarization culminating in the election of a deranged, authoritarian president backed by Republican leadership. The failure of national centrism is complete: as a political strategy, as a theory of social change, and as a way of understanding political reality.