In recent decades, it has become common to refer to the spectrum of political ideology as a football field.
For some arbitrary reason, the CENTER of the political spectrum has been said to start at the 40 yard lines, which means that there are 20 yards of Center to the forty allotted to each Left and Right. Of course, this means that the people at the 39th yard line of either party likely have more in common with each other than with those at their own party’s goal line. However, various social, economic, and legal forces push them to congregate around the people at the edge, instead of encouraging them to come together in the center.
It is difficult to say for sure what those people in the center have in most common, but I believe that a vital similarity is that they understand that compromise and discourse are the key pillars of democracy.
However, our political parties are increasingly dominated by the intransigent groups that reside at the far ends of the football field. The Republicans have embraced the obstructionism at the extreme end of their anti-government ideology while Bernie Sanders has given a voice to the socialist (some would say redistributionist) wing of the Democratic Party. Not only do the groups at the edges of each party fail to represent the views of most party members, they also seem to hold a set of irreconcilable values so strongly as to make compromise impossible.
What America desperately needs is a CENTER PARTY—a real political organization like the Democratic and Republican Parties—that America’s centrists can gravitate to and identify with instead of constantly being tugged towards the wings. Such a party should stake out the turf between the 35 yard lines by emphasizing competence, compromise and constant problem solving as their central goal. Rather than wedding themselves to a rigid set of policies, the party would take a pragmatic approach to accomplishing the things we mostly agree on, while taking a pluralistic approach to the things we don’t and making sure everyone’s voice is heard.
Mike Bloomberg, as something of a technocratic pragmatist, is a perfect example of someone who could provide leadership of such a party. His experience is exceptional, his wealth makes him incorruptible, and his recent selfless decision to stay out of this year’s race to avoid splitting the vote and producing an unintended, perverse result put the 74-year old “beyond fear or favor”.
This year’s struggles already foreshadow a significant realignment of the country’s political landscape. But at this moment, the center is merely a battleground for Left and Right. It is overdue for ‘the notional center’ to become The Center Party, capable of bringing Americans together again, rather than tugging them apart.
Achieving that goal will not be fast, simple, or easy, and if it does not begin soon, any opportunity that it will ever succeed may recede. Today’s chaos creates the perfect opportunity to make an important and lasting change.
The CENTER is where our political process belongs, and its return has been long overdue. The existing center at the moment is a mere abstraction with no structure or apparatus to organize people sympathetic to its essential purpose and goals.
Let’s go, folks! The time is right. The need is evident. Mike where are you?