Centrism is a cancer

So-called “centrists” only align with the majority of professional politicians, not the majority of the public.

Tyler Palicia

As a member of the Democratic Party’s “radical left-wing,” I take it quite personally when Republicans, not to mention many confused Democrats, blame my side for the failings of the party. This assertion seems to be taken as scripture in much of mainstream political media, but it is in fact founded in total myth. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the needs and desires of the American populace knows that so-called “radical-leftists” are the Democratic Party’s only sure asset right now. 

You don’t believe me? Then explain the statistics: 84% of the American public agrees that employers need to be legally obligated to provide paid maternity leave, and 75% of Americans want increased federal funding for childcare. Those two issues are supported by the majority of both Democrats and Republicans. About 60% of the public supports a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour; 57% of Americans support tuition-free state and public colleges paid for by the federal government; 54% of Americans are in favor of “Medicare for All.” Marijuana legalization is supported by 68% of the public, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. I could go on and on and on… But the point is, in politics you generally mobilize your party around issues where your side has the majority of public support. So, why do centrist Dems work overtime to distance themselves from their so-called “far-left” comrades?

If the system was functional, the Democratic leadership would have to be nuts not to embrace the progressive/populist wing of their party. For example, when Bernie Sanders isn’t being filtered through the media as some half-crazed lunatic, this supposedly “radical” figure has a lot more in common with the average voter — at least ideologically — than corporatists like Barack Obama (whom most Democratic Party leaders view as the model Democrat) and certainly Joe Manchin (whom most Republican Party leaders view as the model Democrat). After all, that list of overwhelmingly supported policies was practically lifted straight out of Bernie’s platform. Yet both times he ran for president he was kneecapped by his own party in favor of far more moderate candidates.

Since liberal media constantly runs interference for the dominant/corporate wing of the Democratic Party, an impressive number of hack political pundits have been able to get away with lazily blaming “radical-leftists” for the party’s failures. While moderates are clearly the problem, I suppose it just comes naturally (at least in the United States) for the corporate media to blame every Democratic political humiliation on the progressive scapegoat. 

Take the recent gubernatorial race in Virginia as a prime example. Right now it feels like everyone is saying that McAuliffe’s loss was the result of voters rejecting progessive economic policies. But anyone who actually believes that a milquetoast centrist like Terry McAuliffe represents the “far-left-wing” of the party would have to be nuts. McAuliffe lost for two reasons: he engaged in an unpopular culture war over the misunderstood concept of critical race theory, which was his own stupid fault, and he was undercut by the Biden administration’s inability to satisfy the electorate. That brings me to my next point.

The Republican tidal wave that is about to crash down upon the Democratic Party won’t be the result of backlash against the “Squad” or Bernie Sanders but instead against Biden’s complete inability to deliver on any of the substantive policies I’ve mentioned. And the only reason the Democratic Party doesn’t push for those policies is because many of its leaders are bought off by the same multinational corporations that would stand to lose money if any of the proposals in question were ever signed into law. For example, how is a moderate Democrat like Joe Manchin — who completely watered down the popular infrastructure bill — not guilty of taking legalized bribes from the fossil fuel industry?

A substantial portion of the country can’t even afford to pay their rent right now because a Democratic-controlled Congress can’t seem to stand their ground long enough to pass adequate relief packages. First the party said people were getting $2,000 checks (a paltry amount to begin with), and then they even allowed the number to be whittled down to a measly $1,400. The party throws people crumbs and expects them to vote for their candidates! It’s also worth noting that when those stimulus checks were materially delivered, Biden’s approval rating hit about 55%. Moderate Democrats are rewarded for doing the very least and yet the party still somehow manages to fall short.

The mantra of the Republican Party might as well be: “Fight tooth and nail over every last scrap of meat.” But the mantra of centrist Democrats: “When in doubt, compromise.” Compromise is not a virtue when your political opponents would have millions of people go homeless before they’d admit that lockdowns are necessary. 

You pair years of legislative inadequacy with the exasperating effects of the pandemic, and the result is that the material conditions have dropped off substantially for the average voter. And now those people are going to the voting booth to give a big middle finger to the current administration. Reactionary political freaks in both parties are merely projecting their own disdain for progressivism onto the American people when they blame “radical-leftists” for Democratic defeats.

But the only people who actually seem intent on standing up for any of the policies that Americans clearly want are the so-called “radical-leftists.” And as for the moderate party leaders, they need to realize that people don’t elect Democrats because they expect them to behave like Republicans. Until they learn that lesson, Democrats will continue to suffer devastating defeats on a regular basis, and their sparse victories will only come in the wake of disastrous Republican administrations.