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I have a good deal of sympathy for centrism. Although I was never quite a self-professed centrist, I've definitely found centrism compelling, particularly given the increasing influence of extremism in this country and around the world. But ultimately - for reasons I explain below - I found centrism to be fatally flawed.  

The following is not intended to be a complete analysis of centrism. It is really just an attempt to work through some of my thoughts on centrism. Therefore, I am only discussing the specific reasons I was drawn to centrism and the specific reasons I ultimately rejected centrism. Nonetheless, I think the arguments on both sides will be recognizable to anyone who has thought about the issue.  

Centrism As Not Extremism

For some time - precisely when it started is a separate, but important question - liberals have necessarily defined themselves by opposition to increasingly influential, extremist factions of the Republican Party (including religiously-motivated social conservatives and, more recently, minarchist Tea Partiers). Instinctively repulsed by the emotionally-charged, sometimes violent adherents to these movements, centrism has become the dominant political ideology of the Democratic Party, with only a small minority of the populace self-identifying as liberal or very liberal.  

The most straight-forward and convincing expression of centrism I recall hearing came from Jon Stewart, who, at the time, was interviewing right-wing extremist Ann Coulter. The critical idea - Stewart's centrist manifesto - was expressed as follows:

My view is that the liberal/conservative battle doesn't matter anymore; it's sort of a dinosaur. The real battle is actually extremism versus moderates.

When I heard this in 2002 - less than a year after religious extremists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon - I thought it was exactly right. I thought it was one of the rightest things I had ever heard. That's the problem with our country - it's being overrun by right-wing extremists. And it's not just the problem with our country, it's the problem with the world - look at the terrorists responsible for 9/11. In fact, find some really ugly shit anywhere at any time and there you'll find some batshit crazy extremists.  

But almost immediately, I began to recognize problems. Really, everything worth anything started out as an extreme idea. As revolutionaries, our founding fathers were, by definition, extremists. Free speech, freedom of religion, abolition of slavery, women's suffrage - to name only a few - were all once extremist views. And it's not just ideas and movements from the past: At this point, suggesting we might want to consider legalizing marijuana is not the career killer it once was, but that's the point - the position didn't become more correct as it became more mainstream. In fact, arguing that an idea is correct because of its central location on a continuum of opinions is a logical fallacy.    

The more I acknowledged this, the more I could see the illogical core of centrism manifesting itself everywhere. For example, the centrist sees bi-partisanship as a virtue in and of itself. Consequently, centrist Democrats are constantly on the lookout for reasonable, serious Republicans that will prove up the Democrat's centrism. However, bi-partisanship - in and of itself - clearly has no relationship to validity; a person could flip a coin and be bi-partisan. And it's not just a fixation with bi-partisanship - bi-partisanship is just one form of the centrist obsession with balance.  

What really opened my eyes to the problems with centrism was the stimulus. Obama - a self-professed post-partisan centrist - asked for too little from the outset and then, centrist legislators made cuts. And these cuts were not based on any economic theory, they were made in the name of "centrism." Okay, that's crazy! Economics is a technical field and many actual economists made it clear that an inadequate stimulus could be as bad as no stimulus. It would be like a doctor prescribing antibiotics and only taking half the dosage in the name of centrism (this analogy is tired, but it really is a good fit). The centrist "method" - which has no relationship to science, reason or evidence - has continued unabated. People with no knowledge of, or training in, economics confidently recommend discarding economic theory in the name of staking out a middle ground.  

Here is another typical statement - this one related to reform of the financial industry:

Whatever the effects of the bill, among them will be neither an end to the too-big-too-fail doctrine nor any curb on what the sharpest Wall Streeters see as the central threat to the system’s stability: excessive financial leverage. . . .

There are those who reckon that, what with the wailing and gnashing among both the plutocrats and the populists, Obama has actually found the political sweet spot. “Main Street is mad at the president because he’s too close to Wall Street, and Wall Street is mad at him because he’s too populist,” Altman says. “Therefore, almost by definition, he’s in the right place.”

Sigh Okay, we had a serious, fundamental flaw with the financial system that caused it to implode. Coming up with a middle-of-the-road solution - on the grounds that it is a middle-of-the-road solution - isn't acceptable. We need to make reforms that actually make sure the financial system doesn't implode again. Just picking something in the middle has nothing to do with achieving this objective.  

Centrism as Intellectual Honesty

So why the tendency to believe that if both sides are upset, we've likely arrived the right decision, without any analysis of the actual issues?

Part of the answer lies in the reaction to extremism - expressed by Jon Stewart above - but part of it comes from a tacit understanding that politicians are influenced by something other than the public good. We like people who "cross party lines" because we think it means they're intellectually honest and not beholden to a political party. We like people who draw ire from both sides of an issue because we think it means they're acting for the people and not for special interests.  

Although I certainly value intellectual honesty, I haven't found bi-partisanship or centrism to be a mark of intellectual honesty.      

Take the Wall Street versus Main Street example: Wall Street's interest is clear, the less regulation the better. But what is Main Street's interest? A financial system that doesn't melt down. The public good isn't always in the middle. In this case, legislators pushing things towards the center are motivated by currying favor with Wall Street, not by the public good. In fact, now that I'm tuned into the issue, I would argue that bi-partisanship is most often the result of intense lobbying. There's nothing like a truckload of lobbying money to make politicians get all Maverick-y.      

At this point - far from being a mark of intellectual honesty - centrism is a political strategy that is often knowingly employed contra the public interest:

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. . . .

This is basically the opposite of what I think most centrists really want - which is politicians that act in the public's best interest and not according to political strategy or special interests.

But what the evidence shows is that the influence of special interests is much worse than centrism supposes:

American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

So, it's not that politicians are too often influenced by special interests - it's that politicians are always influenced by special interests.

In my opinion, the centrist desire for politicians not to be beholden to special interest groups is akin to the desire to have viable third party candidates - it would be great, but it's structurally impossible. I would assert that two-party politics is almost entirely special interest politics - in fact, the degree to which it's not is so insignificant as to be negligible.

The Real Battle

These two sources of centrism - anti-extremism and the desire for intellectual honesty - are related. But in both cases, the centrist senses the problem, but vastly underestimates its scope.

The problem with red-faced, batshit crazy emotionalism is really anti-rationality. There is no engaging a movement that is impervious to logic and unconvinced by evidence. Short of violence, the only recourse is mockery - which is why, I believe, comedians such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have become so important.    

What I slowly came to realize is that anti-rationality is much more widespread than the red-faced emotionalism of the fringe. Anti-rationality is everywhere. It has infected not just Fox news, but our political discourse and the mainstream media. Of course, in mainstream debates, anti-rationality doesn't manifest in the form of base emotional appeals. Instead, politicians and supposedly serious media outlets are overrun with pseudo science and sophistry. The supposed "science" of Big Tobacco, global warming denialism, junk economics and blatant revisionist history don't just slip through the cracks every now and then, anti-rationality has truly become the new normal.  

So why so much anti-rationality? And not just at the fringe, but in the mainstream media.  

As I was coming to recognize the degree to which our discourse is overrun with anti-rationality, it was discovered that the Tea Party was not a grassroots populist movement, but rather, a Koch-funded astroturf organization. The Kochs - one of the biggest funders of global warming denialism - orchestrated the Tea Party. And the Kochs aren't just interested in "debunking" global warming - the Kochs are everywhere: The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Mercatus Center, Reason Magazine, Americans for Prosperity, Freedomworks, ALEC and on and on and on. As radical free market fundamentalists, they have put billions into fighting environmental regulation, thwarting health care reform, union busting, destroying public schools and, of course, opposing taxation on corporations and the wealthy. Once I understood the connection between the Tea Party and the Kochs, I could see that extremist emotionalism and the anti-rationality in our discourse are related - they are all forms of oligarchical propaganda. And I am convinced that this is the real threat - not extremism, but oligarchs.

It took me some time to reach this conclusion because anti-rationality is too widespread to pin on propaganda. While this is undoubtedly true, the critical distinction is this: Most forms of anti-rationality do not drive public policy and political discourse. And that's the key - I have come to believe that when public policy and political discourse are being set contra sound science, billionaires are at work. (Or religious fundamentalists, but the political influence of religious fundamentalists is the result of their usefulness to billionaires).  

And this is where I am now: The red-faced emotionalism of the Tea Party is a frightening symptom - I was right about that - but extremism is not the disease and centrism is clearly not the cure. Politically active billionaires have intentionally decimated the American middle class. I do not believe we arrived at a New Gilded Age by accident. The goal of the oligarchs - as explicitly stated by the billionaire-funded Heritage Foundation - is to dismantle the New Deal and the Great Society.  They are succeeding. And as Naomi Klein predicted, they are using economic crisis as an excuse to push through policies that wouldn't otherwise have support.

If this is correct - if we are in an emerging oligarchy - centrism isn't just an ineffective opposition, centrism is complicit. Its fixation with balance assures at least equal time for blatant propaganda. Perhaps more importantly, apathy is baked in. Because centrists define themselves in opposition to extremism and emotionalism, they are not comfortable with activism. Centrists are simply not comfortable taking to the streets - that's what our avowed opposition does. Centrists seem incapable of outrage, even when outrage is clearly appropriate.      

In the wake of 9/11, Jon Stewart argued that the liberal/conservative battle didn't matter anymore and that the real battle was between extremists and moderates.  But now, in the wake of a Wall Street-created financial collapse and several years into the Lesser Depression, I would suggest the extremist/moderate battle doesn't matter anymore. The real battle now is between the billionaire oligarchs and the American people.

Cross-posted at Plutocracy Files

Originally posted to PlutocracyFiles on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (144+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, Celtic Pugilist, SouthernLiberalinMD, Shahryar, Sychotic1, Pluto, jec, Gooserock, denise b, anarchyintheusa, rasbobbo, Toon, Greyhound, Sandino, CalvinV, Purple Priestess, AaronInSanDiego, theano, dkmich, Major Tom, cville townie, xaxnar, skayne, Phoebe Loosinhouse, BachFan, kurt, J M F, cheerio2, k9disc, The Raven, mapamp, triv33, cassandraX, thegood thebad thedumb, Naniboujou, IntentionallyKind, Sanctimonious, SadieB, Coilette, Cuseology, expatjourno, onionjim, autoegocrat, roses, recentdemocrat, gulfgal98, arlene, ohmyheck, Razorblade, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, kurious, Emerson, JugOPunch, emal, maryabein, TealTerror, Magnifico, luvmykona, banjolele, OhioNatureMom, michael1104, Egalitare, wader, ancient evenings, divineorder, Jim P, deben, enhydra lutris, m00finsan, Polacolor, tomephil, Plox, Blue Boy Red State, shari, OzBill, quill, lotusmaglite, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, quagmiremonkey, cslewis, RFK Lives, skod, David PA, petulans, bnasley, askyron, Clytemnestra, pot, tmo, Leftcandid, Isara, albrt, michele2, jan4insight, RenaRF, thomask, tiponeill, cybrestrike, ItsaMathJoke, NyteByrd1954, tofumagoo, bozepravde15, T100R, TAH from SLC, cpresley, fiddlingnero, aufklaerer, lissablack, Orange County Liberal, sidnora, tardis10, jennylind, pgm 01, psnyder, maf1029, jabney, Dixiedemocrat, dirkster42, Philoguy, Val, DixieDishrag, damfino, TiaRachel, Simplify, southof, terabytes, gwilson, lotlizard, RageKage, Marie, FogCityJohn, Wek, Pilgrim X, Al Fondy, Citizenpower, Dave925, MsGrin, Colorado is the Shiznit, dfe, TexasTwister, dle2GA, splashy, drnononono, Thestral
  •  Thank you for writing this. I think the issue (31+ / 0-)

    boils down to one very simple concept: What is the appropriate reaction to savagery?

    When you are dealing with sane people, who basically follow certain rules of ethics and behavior that are generally accepted within a modern society, and there happen to disagree with you on all kinds of things, including politics, then you can engage in debate, competition, even rivalry.

    But when you are confronted face to face with depravity, deep-seethed hatred, extreme religious fundamentalism, and sadistic people hell bent on exploiting and manipulating others, then all bets are off.

    You have to confront that head on... And the response needs to be proportionate to the degree of savagery you are confronting.  

  •  Excellent diary (20+ / 0-)

    Tipped and Recc'ed

    I love Jon Stewart, but in this case he is wrong.

    I think of public debate as a see saw, right now an metric ton of loco has its fat ass on the right hand side of the teeter totter. Centrists are sitting right in the middle.  Without my wide white tush (and people like me) on the left hand side, the whole thing would slide into fascism and oligarchy.

    If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

    by Sychotic1 on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:18:54 PM PDT

  •  Incredible job. Tipped and rec'd. (49+ / 0-)

    The only thing you missed was the constantly moving goalposts of what constitutes the edges of acceptable political discourse.

    You see, the center is by necessity defined by the edges:  e.g. plutocrats and populists both hate you, so you must be in the middle.  In that example "populists" represent the left-wing edge, and Wall St. "plutocrats" represent the right-wing edge. The center is between them; the center is defined by being halfway between them.  Therefore where the edges are defines where the center can acceptably be.

    So if the "center" is where everyone wants to be, you can control everyone who wants to be in the center by constantly redefining the edges of what is acceptable.  For instance, you could make a republican cap-and-trade idea into a left-wing socialist plot to wreck our economy.  or you could make Romneycare into Obamacare, which is also a left-wing socialist plot to ruin our economy.  I've seen these shifts happen within weeks or months--and it's been done by Democrats as well as Republicans.  Single-payer was the "left-wing extremist" position on health care until almost all of the left abandoned it to support the public option.  Then, like magic, suddenly the public option became the left-wing fringe position, single payer dropped off the map into invisibility, and the public option was also doomed.  The choices became 1)no HCR or 2)Obama's (also Romney's) plan.  At which point Romneycare became socialist Obamacare.

    You can see this happening on any issue.  For instance, two or three years ago, supporting Medicare was mainstream for any Democrat and cutting it or privatizing it unthinkable. Now it's almost unthinkable not to advocate for cutting it.  Where's the center on that issue? Between Ryan and Obama? Meaning we'll cut Medicare a lot, but not completely privatize or gut it.

    So, to put it into fewer words, the center moves, it's not a real "place," and it's defined by where the extremes are.  To reside there is to be a man on a leash, getting dragged along by the extremists.  The only cure for that is strong principles.

    The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:26:19 PM PDT

  •  Good analysis. (35+ / 0-)

    Centrism is a fallacy. And, it's intellectually lazy. It's like phoning your morality and principles in.

    What if we took a "centrist" view to a woman's right not to endure a forced birth against her will?

    What would that look like?

    Of what if we took a centrist tact toward war?

    Does that mean we would put an upper limit on how many wars we could have at the same time -- but no fewer than one at all times?

    It's a nitwit position.

  •  Alternate Approach: Consider Objective Reality. (17+ / 0-)

    Did any economic, philosophic, political, or military system EVER create a large global middle class with leisure time and opportunity --other than liberalism?

    Fucking DUH!

    Do facts exist? Might they exist independent of opinions?

    How insane can our society become? Are we anywhere near the limits yet?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:55:26 PM PDT

    •  The Propaganda Outlets also known as the Media (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925

      are responsible for the opinions of the low information citizenry.

      Indeed, when you have less than 6 Major Corporate outlets for ALL information in the USA, Viacom, Disney, News Corp. etc, then you have almost complete mind control over WHAT that citizenry is exposed to and thus to what you want them to believe about ANY and EVERYTHING.

      As such, we need, DESPERATELY, to find new ways to hear independent voices and points of view or we, the middle class, are doomed.

      "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

      by Mr SeeMore on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:28:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave925

        I don't feel that it can simply be linked to access to independent voices. After all, there're an awful lot of independent media outlets online and in print that do a damn fine job of offering different points of view and traditional journalism.

        But it's been noted that people tend to gravitate toward information sources that are comfortable, that fit their way of thinking. For example, a very small percentage of us, I'm guessing, go to RedState for balance in perspective. Likewise, we watch MSNBC, but abhor Fox.

        So then, what's the solution for encouraging critical thinking and getting people to seek out those other voices?

        •  Breakup the Corporate Monopoly on Information... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TAH from SLC, cpresley, sidnora, Dave925

          Trust bust or bring back, at the very least, "The Fairness Doctrine". The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters.

          "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

          by Mr SeeMore on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:56:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, the general lack of antitrust (4+ / 0-)

            enforcement in the past 50 years accounts for a lot of where we are.

            I actually had the privilege of working on an antitrust case; of course it was a private action and we had to fight the state AG at the time too.

            I had an amazing antitrust professor in law school - one of the finest human beings I've ever met.

            Hey, Republicans, the whole world is watching.

            by TAH from SLC on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:11:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  centrism is, of course, not a belief (22+ / 0-)

    but a position & it doesn't allow for either side to be correct.
    so the klan & civil rights workers are the extremes & somewhere in the middle would be the belief that segregation & jim crow is okay, but not lynching.
    between a company that wants to be able to pollute a river & the "extremists" who'd like clean water, the centrist would allow what, some poison? & as long as both sides are unhappy, he knows he's doing his centrist job well.

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 10:31:33 PM PDT

  •  Well put. (6+ / 0-)

    I am afraid however, that we've crossed the line at this point. There are simply too few people with the understanding of the issues in play paying attention to what has been/is being done.

    On the whole, we've withdrawn into our various camps and are not listening to anything other than the respective echo chambers created for just this purpose.

    Since we're here, take this site's stated mission to elect more and better Democrats as an example. It can't be done.

    The Democratic Party mechanism is locked down and those 'better' Democrats are specifically excluded (unless you believe that self financing millionaires running under the blue banner because the red one is already claimed are actually better). The 'turf wars' are ubiquitous at every level in every state.

    I've seen this first hand in districts, both blue and red, in CA, CO, AZ, OR, GA, IL, and NV. Until this changes, nothing will change until the change is brought about through catastrophe.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 11:12:13 PM PDT

    •  I agree about half the time (5+ / 0-)

      The other half of the time - my better days - I have hope.  Mainly because of the diagnosis of the problem by Hacker and Pierson (see third link from the bottom, above).  This gives me hope that we have misdiagnosed the problem and this misdaignosis has led to strategic errors that could be corrected.

      Basically, Rs are pro-business and Ds are cross-pressured.  We have to put enough pressure on Ds to overcome the cross-pressure.  However, we can't do that through JUST elections - we need organizations (like labor unions) that can apply SUSTAINED pressure and actually effect pressure.  That's why the rise in inequality matches the decline in labor unions.

  •  I'll take up for centrism here (7+ / 0-)

    Look - I don't disagree with the central idea that finding the center in a political landscape as off-kilter as ours currently is is no way to arrive at any kind of satisfying moral landscape.  The right has moved so far into their ideology that no acceptable center exists.  I get that.  I also get the threat of oligarchy, but ever was that thus.

    But the political question that animates our constitution and the entire history of our nation is, "how do you get people who agree on almost nothing to live peacefully with each other?"  This has been America's burden all along, and the fact that we've had one civil war already speaks to how tenuous our union can be.

    The founders feared the tyranny of despots as well as tyranny of the majority - but they also feared tyranny of the minority.  Thus they did not want to see the rise of tea parties, be they batshit insane right wing tea parties or gate crashing progressive movement tea parties.  They forged a system that forced us to endlessly hash out baby-splitting unsatisfying compromises that left few happy until such a time in which consensus could be built for something  better (or worse).  Without that consensus, we are still  in the position of trying to use the democratic process for undemocratic goals.

    Ultimately then, we must all be centrists.  But it is our job as activists to transform the center.      

       

    If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

    by snout on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 11:55:20 PM PDT

    •  I think it's a mistake + (25+ / 0-)

      to conflate centrism with compromise.  You can have an ideology and take positions based on reason, science, evidence, morality and agree to a less-than-perfect compromise.

      But the fact is, recognizing something as a compromise is different than arguing something is correct or valid or effective because it's in the middle.

      •  I don't disagree, but... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GMFORD, zenox

        ...compromise and "the center" have a relationship with each other.  Ultimately the compromises we end up with are the ones that find support with the center of the electorate - or at least the winning coalition.

        It is ultimately a lot like distinguishing the notion of median from the midpoint.  Moving the Overton Window can create a false midpoint, but the authentic center is the one where the most voters are.  

        If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

        by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:20:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually it does not look as if this is the case + (22+ / 0-)

          What you're expressing is more or less a median-voter theory.  But many political scientists are calling it into question - notable Hacker and Pierson (see third link from the bottom).  So, for example, a sizable majority of Americans want taxes on the rich, but it likely won't happen.  A sizable majority wanted a public option in health care, but it didn't happen.  It's not true that politicians enact policies to the center of the electorate.  If they did, the middle class wouldn't have gotten fleeced, but it did.  Read the quote about the findings of Bartels - Ds and Rs legislate in the interests of those with high incomes.  NEITHER Ds or Rs legislate in the interests of people with moderate incomes.  That's why people are so frustrated.  If policy was actually enacted to the "center," that would be fine, but it's really, really not.  Look at Saez and Piketty - the advantages have gone pretty much exclusively to the top tenth of the top one percent.

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)
          ...compromise and "the center" have a relationship with each other.  Ultimately the compromises we end up with are the ones that find support with the center of the electorate - or at least the winning coalition.

          Indeed. And remember both, the "Bell Curve" and the "Venn diagram." Also the central balance point of a spinning top. Also the "third angle" of a 3 D world. The diarist's claim that 3d angle equals to a third party which doesn't work in our system falls short of reality. We may not have a viable third party, but our entire system of government is based on the balance of that 3d angle. It was meant to work that way. Bi-partizanship only harms oligarchs' interests, not American people's.

          This diary is full of rhetorical tricks to launder "EXTREMISM" (by disassociating it from the Tea party extremism-tea party is red faced emotionalism not extremism claim) and make it a viable form of political approach that is good for the American people's interest.

          A BIG WHOPPING BULL SHIT. THAT'S WHAT IT IS.

          "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

          by zenox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:34:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  So you don't find MIDDLE class valid or effective? (0+ / 0-)

        "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

        by zenox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:20:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also, the idea + (17+ / 0-)

      That compromise will produce a correct result assumes some basic equality between the participants.  That's part of the reason oligarchy is so corrosive to democracy - the basic system is undermined, the participants are too unequal so there is no real "comprise."  The advantages flow, by and large, in one direction while the losses flow in the other.

      •  I don't hold that idea. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, zenox, GMFORD

        Compromise does not produce the "correct" result.  It creates a democratic result.  Oligarchy certainly perverts democracy, but only to the extent that we let it.  

        Ultimately people vote for it.  Sad, but true.

        If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

        by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:22:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, not exactly (8+ / 0-)

          Look at the quote above - neither Rs or Ds legislate for people of moderate incomes.  At all.  So, where's our choice?  Who else could we have elected?  

          •  It isn't a question of whom. (3+ / 0-)

            It is a matter of what gets them elected.  

            Ultimately politicians  take the positions that demand least of them.  That is why the entire fallacy of "better Dems" is such a loser.  We'll never see enough Dems with the kind of spine we demand.  They will always let us down because we don't offer them a winning coalition in return.

            The only way way to get the change we want is to make sure that it takes almost no bravery to please us, but huge bravery to cross us.  Instead we abdicate on building the movement, so we become easy to ignore..  

            If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

            by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:36:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Elaborate (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snout, Major Tom, ohmyheck, cpresley, Dave925
              The only way way to get the change we want is to make sure that it takes almost no bravery to please us, but huge bravery to cross us.

              Explain a bit more (just so I make sure I'm on page).  And then, explain how this is done.  (I'm sincerely interested).

              •  You have to build the public appetite for it. (4+ / 0-)

                Let's not kid ourselves.  Much of the modern progressive movement is shaped by an odd form of admiration for the movement the GOP built.  We may hate their motives, but we envy their tactics.

                Well the key to their movement was the dominance of talk radio, Fox News and other media outlets.  They spent decades selling their world view, and now they are redeeming the rewards.  There is very little political downside anymore to mouthing most of their ideas.  Talk about small government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility,  deficit reduction - no negative political consequences.  By contrast, almost every core  progressive idea you can mention is burdened by negative associations that have been attached to it over the years of GOP airwaves dominion.

                The point being - they sold conservatisim as a world view.  so much so that they could come back after the disaster of the Bush years simply by arguing that his flaw was not being conservative enough.

                We will never win by attacking our own from the left.  We need to persuade the center.  All else is folly.      

                If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

                by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 01:04:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If it's just about convincing people + (8+ / 0-)

                  Why can't re get legislation even when we have overwhelming support?  Taxing the rich is a great current example.  Doesn't seem to matter how popular it is - you can't get it done.

                  Now, I would agree it has a lot to do with movement conservatism - talk radio, etc.  But even more important orgs like Chamber of Commerce, think tanks and lobbyist.  But how do we build those?

                  I can hear the median-voter stuff, but honestly, you should take a look at the evidence.

                  •  Because we don't actually have... (6+ / 0-)

                    ...overwhelming support.  That is the point here.

                    You keep pointing to polls that say people are with us, but those same people DON'T VOTE FOR US.  Ultimately it does not matter what you can get people to say in a poll if you can't get them to vote for you.

                    My take is that our biggest hurdle is ourselves.  We are so used to being in opposition, and so allergic to be seen carrying water for anyone, that we leave ourselves no room to build a real movement.  The GOP has no such issues.  They'll ride whatever horse is useful to them, then take them around back and shoot them when the race is over.

                    If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

                    by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 01:18:31 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  It's more than polling (0+ / 0-)

                    it also has to be the loudness and the persistence of the effort.  And with respect to the GOP, bringing that effort to a point where they are afraid enough to fall off their hardlines.

                    Also, public opinion is often all over the place.
                    There were polls that said that most people were against raising the debt ceiling, despite the horrible effects this would have.  And they are indeed in favor of spending cuts -- Keynes is not popular with them

                    Barack Obama for President '08

                    by v2aggie2 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:16:52 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Is this what you approve, Snout? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ohmyheck, divineorder, cpresley, Dave925
                  Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. . . .
                •  Misreading of History (9+ / 0-)

                  People don't vote because they understand something very fundamental-

                  Neither of these parties operates according to popular concern. People intuitively know that simply voting for one or the other is a lose-lose situation.

                  Centrism is something Dems cooked up so they could serve the corporate agenda and blunt the obvious criticism that would arise from it.

                  The Democratic Party was only the party of working people during a brief anomaly from the '30s-'60s. It was the increasing popularity of the left-Socialist Party, Communist Party, IWW- and their dogged pursuit of their ideals that led Democrats to adopt some of their proposals.

                  We desperately need that push from an independent left now.

                  When our deficit warring Republicans say today that they would never approve a tax increase under any condition, the only reasonable response is a hearty laugh, a reference to WWII, and a two-by-four across the brow. - L.Randall Wray

                  by skayne on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 04:48:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Socialist Senator Sanders provides left a model (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dave925

                     going around the country promoting this:

                    I just returned from Las Vegas where I gave one of the keynote addresses to 3,000 delegates from the United Steelworkers of America.  Earlier in the week Nancy Pelosi addressed the convention.  President Obama also spoke to the delegates via a video message.  Tomorrow, I will be doing an online chat with members of Blue America.   On Sunday I will be speaking to Democrats in New Hampshire at the Merrimack County annual picnic.  In September I will be speaking with Progressives in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.
                    Here’s the message I’m delivering.  It’s simple, straight-forward and appears to be resonating.

                    Yes, deficit reduction is important, but it is not the most important issue we face.  We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and if the middle-class is to be saved we need to create millions of good paying jobs in the very near future. And we can do it.  Here are three approaches that I will be working on to create the jobs we desperately need when Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.

                    Senator Sanders caucuses with the Dems in the Senate.

                    Those who want to support his efforts and join the fight for progressive policies  may get on email list here

                  •  Politicians go where the votes are. (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lotusmaglite, v2aggie2, Dave925, wonmug

                    If the American people reward them for supporting our interests, they will support our interests.

                    I'll keep saying it - we need to build the movement.  

                    If Kucinich, Grayson, Sanders or Feingold were President, you'd be accusing them of betrayal right now.

                    by snout on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 08:28:15 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Erm, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dave925

                    not:

                    The Democratic Party was only the party of working people during a brief anomaly from the '30s-'60s.

                    The modern Democratic Party was founded by Andrew Jackson as the party of the common people, labor, and farmers. They frequently stood for things we modern folks would not be proud of (like racism), but at no time before the second half of the 20th century could they have been said to be the allies of business or of corporations. If you can prove otherwise, please do.

                    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

                    by sidnora on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:55:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  stripped of spin (13+ / 0-)

    Centrism is the combination of:

    1. neoliberal domestic policy for the purpose of upward transfer of wealth
    2. neoconservative foreign policy for the purpose of upward transfer of wealth, both in the nation where it is practiced and upward transfer to national elites of the wealth of other nations

    Right-centrism uses culture wars to distract the right-wing base from the fact that "their" politicians are helping the private jet crowd extract their wealth from them.

    "Left"-centrism uses fear of culture wars to distract the left-wing base from the fact that "our" politicians are helping the private jet crowd extract our wealth from us.

    Note that culture wars are about things that don't affect the cash flows or personal lifestyles of the wealthy no matter how they turn out.

    You have confused "centrist" with "moderate", a confusion that is deliberately created by the disinformation coming from the Beltway and the media elites.

    Centrism  in America has nothing to do with the "political center" of any place except the Beltway.

    How can there be a "political center" from which the great majority of Americans have been excluded? The majority of Americans favor what has been called (by centrists) progressive (aka EXTREME EVIL LEFTIST!!!) economic policy in which the Federal government helps Main Street at the expense of the elites centrism favors?

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 02:59:50 AM PDT

  •  BTW, good catch on the study (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmyheck, cheerio2, cpresley

    and thanks for diarying it. I thought I was the only one at DKos who had read it.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 03:19:50 AM PDT

    •  Centrism is an Orwellian term (7+ / 0-)

      Exactly right alizard. Fringe positions are taken by politicians and somehow achieve the designation of 'centrism'. It's always sickening when I watch mainstream punditry as they dismiss majority opinion as 'unserious'. The adult conversation Obama is talking about involves only elite concerns.

      The center is no cuts to Medicare or SS. The center is huge cuts to defense spending. The center wants crackdowns on Wall Street's predatory behavoir.

      Obama, and dems like him, are not centrists. He's essentially holding a fringe position in servitude to the ruling elite.

      When our deficit warring Republicans say today that they would never approve a tax increase under any condition, the only reasonable response is a hearty laugh, a reference to WWII, and a two-by-four across the brow. - L.Randall Wray

      by skayne on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 04:58:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obama DINOcrats (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CanyonWren, skayne

        are centrists in modern (Orwellian) political language.

        It's merely that centrism and the political center of a nation are totally unrelated to each other.

        Centrism is about upward transfer of wealth from us to the Forbes 400 and nothing else. Just how does one get a popular consensus among the bottom 99.9% that this is A Good Thing? Don't know, nobody in politics was ever stupid enough to try it. It's always platitudes about jobs and culture wars shit.

        By that definition, all major party candidates for POTUS are centrists. Including Michele Bachmann. And we're going to get the same neolib domestic and neocon foreign policies no matter who wins.

        Culture wars are irrelevant to centrism since to the elites, it doesn't matter how they turn out, they're just propaganda points for message targeting used differently for different marketing demographics. Handmaid's Tale GOP culture wars? DINOcrats sold as our "protectors" from culture wars? The elites can ways to profit no matter which of the candidates they own win.

        Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 05:50:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  John Stewart was right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GMFORD, v2aggie2

    I may be wrong but I think you understand neither the "centrism," nor the "extremism." For example

    The battle is between the billionaire oligarchs who are extremists in their worldviews and the American people who come from all backgrounds and opinions.

    The "revolution" of our founding fathers was against an extremist monarch.

    Free speech is anti-extremist. Thus it is a centrist approach, allowing everyone their point of view.

    Freedom of religion is anti-fundamentalist, which is religious extremism. It allowed everyone their choice in faith and non faith,likewise.

    Free speech, freedom of religion, abolition of slavery, women's suffrage - to name only a few - were all once extremist views.

    No. They were seen as "extremist" views by other extremists (monarchists).

    Founders of this nation did not have an extremist bone in their body. They FOUGHT AGAINST EXTREMISM and by winning the war, created the MOST CENTRIST CONSTITUTION in the world.

    Key points to understand: POLITICAL CENTRISM IS BASED ON PHILOSOPHICAL CENTRISM which is based on science (or logic and geometry). Although it opposes something (extremism), it strives to create a system in which THERE IS NO "EITHER" "OR" SITUATION. That the sides compromise finding a balance. And this is how reality works. Extremism fails because it is based on ILLUSION.

    Here is an example. PEACE SIGN is made of a circle divided by 3 lines that meet in the middle, somewhere. A line (one line) dividing a circle into two EXTREME halves however represents WAR and it is the opposite of the peace. In addition, a one line structure is a geometric shape that is non existent in a multidimensional universe. Similarly, a one line divided into two extreme parts type of government does not stand a chance for survival. How?

    Ever seen a two legged stool? It falls because a two legged stool cannot have balance. How about a 3 legged stool? Like the PEACE sign's lines, the 3 legged stool stands pretty steady because it has balance.

    That's why our founders created a 3 branched government, not 2, because they were WISE enough to know the difference.

    Conclusion:

    Our founding fathers WERE NOT EXTREMISTS themselves simply because they OPPOSED something. They OPPOSED EXTREMISM AND FOUGHT AGAINST EXTREMISM.

    Extremism: Mind created illusion of reality. It will always fail.
    Centrism (compromis and balance) True state of universe. It will prevail.

    Barack Obama, The president of the United States, like our founders, is a brilliant man who knows how to SEPERATE REALITY FROM ILLUSION.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 04:43:58 AM PDT

    •  I'm sorry (5+ / 0-)

      What?

      The American Revolution was a big risk that could have left some of our founding fathers neck-deep in a noose.

      There is no need to re-write history to burnish Obama's reputation.

      They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness and let other people clean up the mess they had made. -The Great Gatsby

      by Plox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 08:27:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did you read my comment? (0+ / 0-)
        The American Revolution was a big risk

        All fights against EXTREMISM are big risks. "American Revolution" was not an exception.

        Besides, I don't see the American Revolution as just another "Revolution" as implied by the word's general meaning. To me, it was rather a "Quantum Leap" which is different than a revolution (would revolve again).

        What is a "quantum leap"? Do some reading. It helps.

        Besides, I am not re-writing history. Anyone who is an expert in American History would know what I am talking about.

        Individual freedom and pluralism (Founders' vision: E Pluribus Unum")are about tolerance for the differences (compromising to find common ground), not the other way around. Only in the EXTREMES we are intolarant of the differences.

        BTW, what do you think the MIDDLE CLASS is about?

        It is about being against EXTREMISM which strives to divide the society into two EXTREME classes: very rich and very poor.

        Isn't the LIBERAL-PROGRESSIVE IDEAL A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS where there is no DEFINITIVE LINE DIVIDING the rich from the poor?

        Yet you wish us to be EXTREMISTS.

        BARACK OBAMA DOES NOT NEED ME TO BURNISH HIS REPUTATION. HE HAS A SOLID ONE AMONG THE PEOPLE WHO CAN THINK AND REASON.

        O.K.?

        "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

        by zenox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:41:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The revolution was not against extremism (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave925, cheerio2, lotlizard

          That is not even remotely the case.  The revolutionaries were the extremists.  Concepts such as equality were a radical shift from the concept of nobility.  The idea that a person could criticize the government and not fear arrest was a radical idea.  The idea that the State should not dictate people's religious beliefs was a radical idea.

          Compared to the rest of Europe, the English monarchy was only extreme in how weak it was, being restrained by the parliament.

          You are not living in reality.

          "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

          by Quanta on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:43:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well your knowledge of the CAPS lock (0+ / 0-)

          has certainly impressed me.

          Almost as much as the tired idea that people who don't agree with your view of Obama can't think or reason.

          As another Dk'er says below, what the founding fathers did and what they fought for were radical for the time. I cannot fathom how anyone can think of them as centrists or moderates.

          They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness and let other people clean up the mess they had made. -The Great Gatsby

          by Plox on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 03:20:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary - thanks! (8+ / 0-)

    Major points taken away:

    Centrist and Moderate are not the same things although there is a clear effort to conflate the terms.

    Centrism is defined by extremism due to Overton window (which we see happen on a practically minute by minute basis)

    And most importantly: It simply doesn't matter what the majority of Americans want: end of war, taxes on the wealthy, public option - we get what they decide to give us and that's the end of it. What we do with that nugget of knowledge will determine the future of our country.

  •  Centrism is not a virtue by itself, or at all... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmyheck, cpresley, Citizenpower

    In an ideal world where all shades of opinion get a fair hearing,  where facts ARE given due consideration, and everyone has a voice, centrism is not necessarily a bad thing. But neither is it inherently good. There are several reasons why, as I see it.

    1) The obvious one is that we DON'T live in the ideal world described above. People with power and/or money (it's largely the same thing these days) deliberately game the system to get what they want. The power to define where the 'center' is - and we're talking Overton Window here - is the power to control debate.

    2) Centrism may be the wrong way to get where you want or need to go. Centrism is based on the premise that avoiding extremes, steering a middle course will keep you where you want to be. The problem is, that may not be the case. The 'center' may not actually be (see above) the center. And.... things change. What worked yesterday may be difficult today and impossible tomorrow. A world based on cheap oil for example, isn't possible any more - but trying to find the center between people in denial about that and people trying to move on is not going to turn out well - which leads right into my third point.

    3) There are times when centrism is the worst alternative or is simply not possible. You can't cross a river by meeting in the middle. Two wrongs do not make a right - but neither does combining a right and a wrong. Sometimes it is necessary to make a choice that requires 100% commitment to work - no hedging or waffling.

    4) Unthinking centrism for the sake of centrism is intellectually and morally lazy - as is unthinking extremism. It's especially unhelpful when 'centrists' keep trying to find common ground with extremists. It turns into a race down the field as the goal posts keep getting moved.

    5) The key element is thinking. Reacting with 'centrism' to avoid conflict and/or avoid examining facts and results of prior decisions is as big a sin as leaping without looking, or shooting first and asking questions later. I'll let my sig line finish the rest of this thought. Trying to go through life on autopilot is a recipe for disaster.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 05:07:38 AM PDT

  •  Centrism is not pragmatism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OhioNatureMom, v2aggie2, Citizenpower

    For example, global warming is either caused or exacerbated by human activity, or it is not.

    There's isn't a halfway position there. It's "yes" or "no." The Centrist cannot say, "well, people are half the problem."

    The pragmatist, for his part, can say, "Our ability to address the problem has to account for the fact that the billionaire industrialists will combat any attempt to mitigate the problem, so we have to seize any victories we can attain."

    So with healthcare, for instance, a pragmatic position was that we weren't likely to get anything at all. No change. Because industry and insurers like their 15 percent year-on-year increases in income. Any victory on this front, from an end to rescission to an end of lifetime payouts was a huge win.

    I don't understand the thinking that anything less than single-payer was a failure. We are MUCH closer to single-payer now that PPACA is in place.

    Centrism would say that half your policy could be rescinded, etc. In other words, the centrist looks for a position in between extremes; the pragmatist looks for what is possible.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

    by The Raven on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 05:51:09 AM PDT

    •  Nothing at would be better than this (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ohmyheck, quill, cslewis, cpresley, Dave925

      Nothing at all was better than enshrining the predatory insurance companies at the nexus of his HC bill and forcing people to buy those products with subsidies.

      The issue was cost and effiency, and the most ineffecient part of our healthcare system is private insurance. His bill was a bailout to private insurance and drug companies.

      All he did was shift costs from the governments balance sheet onto employers and employees- and private insurers are already gaming the weak reforms in this bill.

      His solution wasn't pragmatism- it was servitude to corporations, plain and simple.

      When our deficit warring Republicans say today that they would never approve a tax increase under any condition, the only reasonable response is a hearty laugh, a reference to WWII, and a two-by-four across the brow. - L.Randall Wray

      by skayne on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 06:56:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing is "enshrined" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OhioNatureMom, Dragon5616, v2aggie2

        You're just wrong.

        Nothing is codified. Nothing is permanent.

        We've taken one step toward single-payer. Look at what Social Security and Medicare looked like when they were enacted.

        They looked nothing like what we have today. But they were an important start.

        Any yeepers and mammerers howling about "single payer" are wasting everyone's time. That could never have happened as the first step out of the gate. It's childish to suggest that, with the stroke of a pen, Obama would have wiped out all of America's insurance companies in an instant.

        That's hundreds of thousands of jobs, an entire infrastructure woven tightly into our medical system, eliminated overnight. A pleasant dream - sure, I'd have been happy with it.

        But not feasible.

        If you want to think that way, then slam the president for not giving everyone everything forever.

        The health care act is an incredibly massive win solely on the basis of it ending caps on lifetime payouts. Just that, alone, is gigantic. Then you add on the ban on rescission, the 26 year old dependent capacity, "must-issue" rules, and you see that it does radically change the landscape.

        We'll kill the insurers eventually, but this was the first step toward doing that.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

        by The Raven on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 07:31:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We must borrow from the right in this (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Raven, v2aggie2, wonmug

          Death by a thousand tiny cuts. HCR as you suggest must be followed by more and more. A step in the right direction is good, but if it's the only step...

          This is why I believe the cries of betrayal are premature. In all honesty, I think they will have merit in the next 4-5 years, but I would be ever-so-happy to be wrong.

          The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

          by lotusmaglite on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:23:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's going to be a fight (0+ / 0-)

            Just to hang onto this. Just this... what we call the Health Care Act, will sustain a heavy and unrelenting assault. They'll do anything to kill it.

            That should tell us something.

            Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

            by The Raven on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:17:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the secret weapon was "pilot programs" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Raven, JeffW

          which are a battery of small-scale experiments that will transform the health care system as we know it. They may look harmless but history has proven that they are the
          engine of transformation.

          We saw this in our agricultural system when it was fragmented and disorganized and the country suffered from
          high food costs (40% of a family's income went to food costs) in 1900.  It took time and effort to get small farmers to change their ways and listen to new ideas of "book farming". We didn't want the Communist fix of taking over all the small farms and organizing them into collectives.
          Besides that led to wide-scale famines.

          So according to agricultural historian Roy V.Scott in his study,"The Reluctant Farmer", it all started with a pilot program. A US Dept. of Ag. bureaucrat arrived in Tenn. and started with one farmer at a time to convince them that these scientific methods could be useful to them. It took time but it won over enough of the small farmers to make a success and the rest is history. Nobody goes hungry in American unless its due to the politics in Washington.

          We have won more than we understand in health care although it isn't enough and it shouldn't have to be this way but damn, it had to start some time didn't it?

        •  Good riddance. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW
          We'll kill the insurers eventually....

          Renewable energy brings national global security.      -6.25, -6.05

          by Calamity Jean on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 07:32:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  A pragmatist looks at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925, Citizenpower

      what is possible and then decides if it's too much trouble to ask politely for it.  A pragmatist refuses to consider that out of the universe of possibilities, the only impossibilities are the ones you decide ahead of time are too much trouble to ask for.
      The oligarchs only have as much power as you let them have.
      Single payer healthcare was only impossible because folks like you decided that it was too much trouble to ask for.
      The war you have no chance of ever winning is the war you refuse to fight.

    •  politics is the art of what is possible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven, cpresley

      but that begs the question of who defines what is possible.
      and when a party stops asking that question, and stops trying to be the party that defines what is possible, that party starts to lose.

      Look at the Republicans and their successes:  all geared toward redefining the possible every day, every fight, every bill--even the defeated ones--moving the discourse ever rightward.

      the problem with the pragmatic view you describe is that it is granular, micro-level political analysis.  There is no big picture or big strategy or long-term thinking in this pragmatic way of thinking, whereas the Republican party has all those things in abundance.

      One has to be able to both focus the camera tightly, and move out into a wide-angle shot.

      When you back out and look at the philosophy you've described in a "wide-angle-shot" what you see--or at least, what I see--is a group of people begging concessions from very powerful forces that they can't challenge. It's the philosophy of people who have already given up on the notion that they will ever have power.

      that might work--though it wouldn't be very democratic-- if the rich and powerful had any interest in being reasonable, but since 2008 it's become clear they're going to keep taking until they have it all, even if they destroy both our civilization and the planet in the process.

      Therefore, pragmatism, except in very specific applications, serves us no better than centrism.

      And on a "pragmatic" note--deciding from the get-go that you don't have, and will never have, power is not a good way to build political power.

      The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:38:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The art of the real (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Citizenpower

        It might be a mistake to equate pragmatism with centrism the way you're doing here.

        Because it's not about conceding anything or avoiding tough fights. Being pragmatic isn't the abandonment of virtue.

        As a student of game theory, I look to any and all routes to victory. If winning anything is achievable, then by all means lets throw our shoulders against the wheel.

        What pragmatism means is that there's no point in fighting a battle that is not winnable. Hey, you want to do the Charge of the Light Brigade thing, knock yourself out.

        Going back to the health care act (PPACA), what we had there was very much "no change, no reform, no anything." That was the deal on the table. Nothing.

        The very idea that we might enact legislation that reined in the rampant abuses of the healthcare industry, why, that was just unthinkable. Those lobbyists were backed by infinite sums of money.

        So demanding single payer was, in this context, the equivalent of an infant throwing a tantrum. Yes - I want job security for life, a pension, and a free home. I'd like all my needs met, now and forever. Everybody does.

        Are those realistic goals? Is there some route by which we can attain those things in 3 months? Savaging the president and calling him a failure because he didn't do that seems wrong to me.

        The PPACA was a massive win for people like me who have pre-existing conditions. It means I've got a chance - no guarantee of anything - but a chance where I had none before. And we can build off it and single payer is a lot closer because of it.

        Pragmatism, in this context, is taking a look at the pieces that are on the table and making the best possible move against the opposition. Centrism is a completely different thing.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

        by The Raven on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:24:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I could make a long reply to this-- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cpresley

          and by the way, thanks for engaging with me in such a, well, realistic and polite way!--but the best rejoinder is what the Republicans actually do.

          They put up all kinds of bills that don't have a chance of getting through, because their goal is not simply to win the battle of getting a bill through, but the war of changing political culture in the U.S. so that they can dominate it.

          For instance:  the Ryan budget has served its purpose whether it ever passes or not.  First, it defined the right-wing edge of the acceptable political conversation as very very far to the right.  Second, it established--or helped to establish--the precedent that its horrible safety-net-gutting precepts are now acceptable and open game to be revisited again and again.  Third, it gave their whacko base something to organize around and make noise about.

          Now, I admit they had some help here.  First from the MSM, which gave a ton of coverage to the Ryan bill but none to the People's Budget.  Second, from Obama, who essentially dealt with the Ryan bill as if it were legitimate instead of rejecting it out of hand.  Obama essentially said:  "let me meet you halfway." But saying that to the Ryan budget immediately implies that the Ryan budget is a rational proposal on the other side of the spectrum that you just happen to disagree with.  Unlike, for instance, the People's Budget, which is unacceptable in D.C., partly because Obama never addressed it, much less tried to compromise with it.

          And so it goes. It's not just about winning specific battles.  It's about using even the losing battles to win the war.  You mentioned the Charge of the Light Brigade--I'd like to mention Ulysses S. Grant.  Who lost a lot of battles, but won the war quite handily.

          The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:47:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ryan is now being challenged by his voters (0+ / 0-)

            So much so that he has to charge admission to keep the people out who disagree with him. I'd say that is a victory of sorts because the people know who they are dealing with. I don't believe they are going to swallow his
            b.s. so easily.

  •  I consider myself a centrist (3+ / 0-)

    but the following statement is not true of me:

    For example, the centrist sees bi-partisanship as a virtue in and of itself.

    What makes me a centrist lies within my ideology, not my reaction to where the parties stand at any given time or on any given issue. For one thing, my ideology has not changed even though the Republicans have moved further to the right than ever, thus moving the median to the right.

    So my centrist position is no longer in the ideological middle between the two parties current positions but much further to the left, particularly with regard to social issues. That's why I only vote for D's.

    •  Defining our terms (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GMFORD, Citizenpower

      ...is paramount in any discussion like this. I like what you wrote: centrism as a fixed point sounds like a paradox - and it would be in the physical universe. But in the all-rules-are-bendable universe of political thought, the center can very well be way off to the left.

      It's agreement that is important. You call yourself a centrist, I call myself a radical, and yet I have a feeling we agree on sooo many things...

      The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. - Yasutani Roshi

      by lotusmaglite on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:26:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting diary... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmyheck, OhioNatureMom, cpresley

    I think some of my views have evolved in similar ways.
    Tipped & rec'd. :)

    "It's a sin that somehow light is changing to shadow and casting its shroud over all we have known.." - Pink Floyd "On the Turning Away"

    by Coilette on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 06:42:05 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for writing this! n/t (4+ / 0-)

    Barack Obama: So morally bankrupt that he thinks people who tortured other people to death should get a pass. Likes to prosecute whistleblowers, though.

    by expatjourno on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 06:54:43 AM PDT

  •  When barbarians are pillaging and burning... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SouthernLiberalinMD, cpresley, wonmug

    the Village, a calm, measured, diplomatic approach will not stop them.  

    Why should they stop when they know they have the advantage?  They can create crisis after crisis, knowing that the response will be only ineffective half-measures, concerned more with trying to give an appearance of rationality and a facade of stability in the midst of chaos.  

    IMHO, the chaos, pillaging and destruction of the foundations of our society will continue as long as the responses to the attacks are inadequate to stop the attacks.

    Diplomacy and statesmanship only works if there is a willingness by all parties to make concessions for the common good.  When the extremists and their corporate manipulators are bent on battle, the only logical response is to meet them with an equal and opposite resistance, and a clear and unflinching determination to preserve the economic and social welfare of the people that are under sustained and fiercely determined attack.

  •  Excellent diary (10+ / 0-)

    Tipped, recommended and hot listed.

    I worked in local govt. my entire career and worked with politicians of many different stripes.  The most frustrating people to work with were what we are calling centrists.  I called them process people.  They were the ones who had no ideas of their own, but felt that the solution to everything was somehow in the middle and that the process would find that solution.  They were the policians who always wanted to form a citizens' committee to come up with an answer.  They were the most likely never to never take the lead on an issue.

    They were very much instrumental in my realizing that the right answers and the best answers are not based upon the mythical and always moving middle, but are based upon what is right, ethical, and fair for the greatest number of people.  

    The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- Our soul is gone.

    by gulfgal98 on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 07:41:40 AM PDT

  •  Bush SR after S&L crisis, major bill FIRREA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cslewis, cpresley, Dave925

    an actual Republican president, that actually prosecuted his own Republican supporters like Charles Keating of Lincoln S&L (Irvine, CA, Keating Five w/McCain, cost the gov, you and me, 2 billion dollars).  The FIRREA actually extended the 3 year statute of limitations so that S&L executives could be prosecuted, and they were.

    80 % of success is JUST SHOWING UP ! ! !

    by Churchill on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 07:49:34 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shari, cpresley, Citizenpower

    This is the best critique of centrism I've ever read.  I hope this message gets to our elected officials.  

    Everything worth anything started out as an extreme idea. As revolutionaries, our founding fathers were, by definition, extremists. Free speech, freedom of religion, abolition of slavery, women's suffrage - to name only a few - were all once extremist views.
    It would be like a doctor prescribing antibiotics and only taking half the dosage in the name of centrism (this analogy is tired, but it really is a good fit). The centrist "method" - which has no relationship to science, reason or evidence - has continued unabated.
  •  As if half-way between good and evil is good... (9+ / 0-)

    ... the core, flawed tenet of the centrist's religion.

    ...arguing that an idea is correct because of its central location on a continuum of opinions is a logical fallacy.

    Well said, diarist. The whole diary and the particulars.

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 08:29:23 AM PDT

    •  i agree with you but they often (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deben, lotlizard

      throw out the whole notion of evil and good as a naive construct.

      as if bringing morality to bear on politics is just stupid.

      that sort of thing sounds good:  worldly-wise, slick, professional--until you've gotten dragged half-way around the world, politically speaking, by a bunch of completely rabid extremists who don't share your views.

      The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:42:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem isn't centrism... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shari

    ...it's what DC considers centrism -- they simply dub conservative hippie punching as "centrist". If it was what you consider it:

    ...which is politicians that act in the public's best interest and not according to political strategy or special interests.

    Then I don't think anyone would have a problem with it at all. In fact, a coalition of liberals and centrists (the kind you describe above) would be absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, the only "centrists" that would fit the description you give are actually liberals.

    As for all the fringe based red-faced Tea Partiers. People on DK shouldn't hate them. They aren't the problem, they are victims. Victims of a long term propaganda campaign by the staunchest and richest conservatives over the past several decades.

    If there's one thing about propaganda...eventually, it works. We shouldn't blame the victim.

  •  As a "Recovering Centrist"... (5+ / 0-)

    ...I thank you for sharing your intellectual journey in this regard.

    I used to be a DLC "Gopher".  It was an easy drive for me to go volunteer to "staff" the big late 80s meetings in Williamsburg. I ushered the VIP seating at the Democratic Debate at Phi Beta Kappa Hall.

    But it was an exclusive membership operation from the beginning. And more focused on gathering and distributing Lobbyist money than anything else.

    The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

    by Egalitare on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 08:43:10 AM PDT

  •  Krugman On The Cult Of Centrism (6+ / 0-)

    This is some stuff.

    No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.

    Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

    So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.
    ...

    What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.

    You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.

    And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.

    It’s a terrible thing to watch, and our nation will pay the price.

  •  Political Centrism doen't really mean anything. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cheerio2, cpresley, FogCityJohn, Dave925

    It is simply in favor of being "between" and not for or against anything in particular.

  •  I'd rec this twice if I were able (4+ / 0-)

    It's so simple, yet the "Centrists" on our side can't seem to grasp the concepts.

    There are simple yes or no questions that need answering and then a response to the problem.

    Being on the "halfway pregnant" side of an argument should bring derision and scorn, not accolades for being "willing to see both sides" and compromising accordingly.

    "Insanity runs in my family - It practically gallops." - Best movie line ever.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:12:09 AM PDT

  •  Another problem with "centrism" (8+ / 0-)

    is that it is not really an "ism" at all.  It is meaningless.  Your diary illustrates this beautifully, since it fails to define centrism as anything but a floating median between two defined (in theory) poles.  If the GOP lurches to the right and the dems meekly follow, then the centrist mindlessly drifts to the right to maintain "the middle".  A centrist is ultimately a weak-minded fool, supremely arrogant in that he is "better" than either party, because he's "independent", when in reality he's at the mercy of the ideas of others.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 09:12:23 AM PDT

    •  as I said, the cure is strong principles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean

      the guy who voted against the balanced-budget amendment in 1995 was the right kind of centrist: he shared some views with each side, but his views were his views and did not change because they were based on a set of substantive principles.

      He probably compromised from time to time, as do all legislators, but compromise was not the value:  his principles were his values.

      It just so happened that some of his principles agreed with the Democratic party platform, and some with the Republicans.

      That is quite different from the crap that passes for "centrism" today, where as you so aptly point out, "there's no there there."

      The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground/But there's no room, no space to rent in this town

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:45:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Centrism (0+ / 0-)

    Centrism - refuge of a lazy mind and a muted conscience.

    "You have to understand Neo, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it." Morpheus - The Matrix

    by pot on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 10:03:35 AM PDT

  •  I think I'm where you are now (0+ / 0-)

    The "problem" with the left wing is that we want to do good for everyone, so we compromise in order to be agreeable to everyone (admittedly, I'm speaking through my own prism here). We're able to look at shades of grey, whereas the right can only see things in black and white.

    But the events of the past 2 years has shown me that we need to strongly take a far-left position, in order to be centrist or move the country to the left. The spirit of compromise is fantastic in theory, but it's just not playing out well in practice.

  •  A few observations: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    v2aggie2

    First on this part:

    My view is that the liberal/conservative battle doesn't matter anymore; it's sort of a dinosaur. The real battle is actually extremism versus moderates.

    When I heard this in 2002 - less than a year after religious extremists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon - I thought it was exactly right. I thought it was one of the rightest things I had ever heard. That's the problem with our country - it's being overrun by right-wing extremists. And it's not just the problem with our country, it's the problem with the world - look at the terrorists responsible for 9/11. In fact, find some really ugly shit anywhere at any time and there you'll find some batshit crazy extremists.

    You associate extremism only with the right.  I took Stewart's point to include extremism on both sides.  And just so I'm clear: I don't necessarily think extremism itself is a bad thing in every circumstance, though that's the connotation these days with the use of the word itself.

    Then this:

    The more I acknowledged this, the more I could see the illogical core of centrism manifesting itself everywhere. For example, the centrist sees bi-partisanship as a virtue in and of itself.

    Is that your opinion?  If it is, that's fine - but I don't believe that the core organizing mantra of self-proclaimed centrists is the achievement of bipartisanship.  Just a small point.  I personally see a drive to bi-partisanship as a consequence of people wanting Shit To Get Done, with the tacit acknowledgement that in the current climate, it will not without somewhat of a bi-partisan effort.  It's a means to an end - both politically and practically.  But YMMV.

    Take the Wall Street versus Main Street example: Wall Street's interest is clear, the less regulation the better.

    Not entirely true, and imo a vast oversimplification.  Many Wall Street CEOs favor regulation as it spurs growth in industries that they champion - a key example would be those companies that are invested in alternative fuel technologies.  Many CEOs supported cap and trade at both the state and Federal levels for that very reason (see here (PDF), and here for just a few examples).  Stocks of companies that benefit from this type of regulation soar on news of such policies.  Stocks for traditional fossil fuel companies falter.  

    In fact, now that I'm tuned into the issue, I would argue that bi-partisanship is most often the result of intense lobbying. There's nothing like a truckload of lobbying money to make politicians get all Maverick-y.

    Could NOT agree more.  I hate - repeat, hate - lobbying.  I hate anything but wholly Federally financed campaigns and zero dollars going to politicians ever, in the form of trips, meals, donations, gifts, etc.  Money corrupts, period - and it corrupts institutions especially, and politicians are a part of the political and electoral institution.

    Having said THAT - since we seem a looooong way away from any reform that approaches what I think is the way to de-corrupt the political and electoral institution, I wish our lobbyists were better organized to compel outcomes I/we would prefer.

    As to the remainder of your essay - I can only say that where I fall on the political spectrum varies on the subject of the issue at hand.  I am Extremely Liberal on some subjects - I'm Liberal on the majority of others, and occasionally Moderate on a handful.  If I was asked to characterize my ideology, I would say that I am Very Liberal.

    SO.  I consider my Very Liberal self to be a counterbalance to my Very Conservative counterparts.  Practically, we pull against each other and wind up with - you guessed it - "slightly x of center" policies.  I don't actually know anyone who would characterize themselves as a "moderate" or a "centrist" - I'm sure they exist, but I don't know them.  The folks I know are either Conservative (self-classified) or Liberal (also self-classified).

    I appreciate your essay - it's very well thought out and written, as well as sourced.  I think it makes some assumptions that I don't necessarily agree with, but that's ok - there's no way to have a discussion without those assumptions. Tipped & Rec'd.

    •  A few responses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley, FogCityJohn

      Thanks for the comments - I might not gt to them all, but a couple:

      Yes, for the centrists the extremes are on both sides - the ones that freaked me out in this country were on the right.  But, for example, Jon Stewart - to prove up his centrism - has dumped on Code Pink.  The point I was making is that the extremists I found disturbing made Stewart's statement attractive - "yes, the problem is extremism."

      As for bi-partisanship listen to how often politicians and the media will say a bill is bi-partisan.  This is presented on its own and in support of the bill.  John McCain's Maverick-iness - same thing.  So, I hear it all the time.

      As for Wall Street and regulation I guess I would need to see a cite.  There might be an individual here or there, but generally, the teams of financial industry lobbyists are fighting for as little regulation as possible.  See for example Frontline, The Warning - this was a pre-crisis attempt at regulation.

  •  Centrism is a Label That is Easily Attached (0+ / 0-)

    to pragmatists in politics.  And that is an idea that devolves from fastening an importance on "whatever works" over placing importance on principles that are held based on one's political philosophy regarding the Big Issues of social justice, fiscal responsibility, foreign policy, business, etc.

    Centrists' sisters and brothers are Moderates, whatever they are.  When extremism keeps moving the goal posts of what it means to be left or right of center, a centrist finds himself on constantly shifting ground.

    Obama is a moderate pragmatist, hence he disappoints almost everyone on some issues and pleases almost everyone on others, except those to the left or to the right of the political spectrum.  Kossacks are not "almost everyone."

    I think he's unable to do what's necessary for the good of the country regarding the economy and particularly unemployment because it's difficult to formulate policy in the absence of principles and it's inadequate to be pragmatic when conditions are extremely bad.  In this sense -- and it's a highly restricted sense -- he's failing as president.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 11:11:40 AM PDT

  •  Centrism can not exist without 2 poles (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora, damfino, cpresley

    Left and Right.

    But at the moment, there is only the Right.

    Therefore, Centrism is just the Right.

    That's really explains American and European politics.

  •  Excellent diary, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cpresley, cheerio2, Egalitare

    thanks.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

    by sidnora on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 12:01:24 PM PDT

  •  We are in the final stage of a complete (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cpresley, Dave925, Citizenpower

    Corporatist takeover. Half of the Democrats and all the Republicans are Corporatists - so naturally its going to win out. The Democratic party may be useful in the short term but the future is in supporting and building a different way. This system is collapsing and the Lesser Depression is only accelerating the transition. I often ask people their thoughts on the USA's greatest period and the answer is mostly the 50's & 60's (they don't know why) but it was  when the USA had higher taxes (on the wealthy), more regulation, and a strong vibrant labor movement and middle class plus a domestic manufacturing base. Also the military-industrial complex did not yet have TOTAL control.

  •  Jon Stewart's assessment informs my perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, Egalitare

    (I should say I came to the same conclusion indepently of him.) The fight right now is to swing the plurality of moderates to one side of the extremist side. The right extremists showed in the debt ceiling they will bulk at nothing to usher in their Ayn Rand fantasy utopia.

    What are we doing? Meeting them halfway.

    Watch for my upcoming movie: "Dr. Derangedlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the My Teabagger Overlords."

    by Scott Wooledge on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 02:09:12 PM PDT

  •  Want to tip and rec you TWICE (0+ / 0-)

    Once for an outstanding diary and a second time for explaining that 'science' is sometimes promoted for political or economic motivations and not for science itself.

    'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

    by MsGrin on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 03:02:03 PM PDT

  •  I'm going to print out 50 copies (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cheerio2, PlutocracyFiles, Egalitare

    of this excellent diary, and make everyone I know and love read it at, uhm, candy cigarette-point. :P

    Fantastic essay. Thanks for this.

    Obama would do well to understand that while democracy depends on intelligent compromise, it also depends on the ill-tempered gripers and groaners out in the street. -- Ta-Nehisi Coates

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Sun Aug 21, 2011 at 03:22:45 PM PDT

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