Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.
We ought to put aside our extremism and come together to find common solutions, goes the conventional wisdom—and you can see where that kind of thinking has gotten us.
Well, it’s time to reject this middling middle-of-the-roadism and take a stand, writes Paul Starr in The American Prospect. For the “fanatics of the center” are just as dangerous as the fanatics of the margins. They “believe so deeply in the spirit of compromise that their commitment to it is uncompromising,” he explains. “Every time Republicans move to the right, Democrats are supposed to be willing to find common ground by moving further to the right, too. Civic virtue positively requires it.”
Starr singles out for particular ridicule the Americans Elect third party, which would back only bipartisan presidential tickets, and their most supportive pundit, Thomas Friedman, who last July wrote a breathless column about how Americans Elect will “let the people in.”
Don’t buy what he’s selling, writes Starr:
The history of climate policy and health-care reform is instructive. On climate policy, moderates in recent decades urged Democrats to support a market-oriented approach known as cap-and-trade in the interests of compromise. On health-care reform, they also urged Democrats to accept a market-oriented approach—private health-insurance exchanges and an individual mandate—for the sake of bipartisanship. But when Democrats adopted these approaches, Republicans abandoned them and insisted that they were tantamount to socialism. … Instead of winning over conservative support, compromise has done nothing to discourage Republicans from moving to the right—and nothing to prevent the fanatics of the center from saying that Democrats are equally responsible for political gridlock because they haven’t compromised more.
“I don’t think you go to the middle,” Newt Gingrich recently told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “You bring the middle to you.” That’s not only good strategy; it also describes what conservative Republicans have succeeded in doing over the past 30 years. If Democrats are to reverse the political momentum on the right, they need to bring the middle to them.
Source: The American Prospect