Commentary: Why it’s time Americans try a little centrism

  • Robert Dean
  • Special to the American-Statesman
1:09 p.m Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 Opinion
Andres Leiva
A protestor holds a protest sign near President Trump’s Mar-A-Largo resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20.

We’re not even deep into 2018 — and it’s already a cultural steel cage match.

Trying to editorialize the daily news has gotten to the point where we might as well post a .gif of a dumpster fire with the caption, “So THIS happened.” And then we’d collectively groan.

Consider that we have a president on his third wife who allegedly had an affair with a porn star. His party of old school morals turns a blind eye while the left goes insane, wondering where the Obama-level outrage suddenly disappeared. You can’t make this stuff up.

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There was the whole “shithole” fiasco, which rallied the base but made everyone sane cringe.

Part of the country thinks we’re killing it — that “real” people are speaking their minds, the stock market is booming, and we’re showing terrorist (brown) countries who’s boss. There’s a stream of one-note think pieces across left-leaning news featuring white folks with grizzled faces, Carhartt jackets, and a smoke dangling off their lips talking about how “they got a voice now.”

Some Republican lawmakers are quitting their jobs, avoiding the oncoming years of fruitless dogfighting. Democrats are shadow boxing for everything from small-town coroner to mayor of traditionally red strongholds. In Texas, working-class progressive Beto O’Rourke is giving Ted Cruz his first real political opponent since rising to tea party power.

Democrats, despite a tsunami of optimism, can blow it once again. If there’s one group who’s awesome at not having a clue, it’s the left. Unifying a party that’s half progressive and the other half out-of-touch white people is proving to be a formidable task. But, let’s keep trotting Hillary Clinton out there. The State of the Union continues to be mocked, analyzed and taken apart — and it’s going to accomplish nothing except angry up the blood. The Democrats big move? We’ve got another Kennedy! We’re back!

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We all want our team to win, whether that be a progressive place of gender and racial equity with a $15 hourly minimum wage and fewer guns, or a wide-open economic playing field for capitalism while Jesus takes the wheel. But, let’s be real: We need to meet in the middle if we want to accomplish anything.

The smart bet would be infrastructure, which Dems have wanted for a decade but couldn’t get the GOP to budge on. Trump could win that battle with a few phone calls and some “bigly” action. Trump, after all, claims to be the “deal-maker,” though he hasn’t shown it much.

But let’s pump the brakes and focus on Congress.

We can’t keep being indefensibly hard line, despite wanting to stick to our guns on agenda and politics. There’s something to be said about centrist politicians and steering toward the middle.

Centrists are becoming fewer in Washington. Instead, principles are worn as badges of courage — and we can’t let the other guy get an inch. Instead of the infighting, it would be prudent to at least consider the truths of others. At this point, it’s for the best. There’s no magic bullet waiting for the opportunity to fix America.

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How do we stop and address a litany of problems that are uniquely American, but also serve the best interests of over 330 million people? How do we solve issues like poverty, economic well-being, global warming, health care reform, terrorism and student loan debt?

Our representatives should be fixing these problems instead of trying to screw the other guy.

Centrism could throw sprinkles at both parties — a little fiscal responsibility here, some socially liberal policies there. It’s a mixed bag, sure, but if it can lead to getting something accomplished, at least it comes from a place of good intention.

Because Centrists share beliefs like climate change exists and Common Core should be rolled back, neither could win a seat in Texas if the party existed on its own platform. In a state as diverse as Texas, we should have a clear understanding that not everyone can be crammed into a box and told to check one or the other. Standing in the middle might not be ideal, but it’s the choice if we want to compromise and get stuff done.

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