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Deconstructing centrism

Stephen Stromberg’s “Sanders bombs the test” (Nov. 22) denigrates Bernie Sanders for his Democratic debate response to a question from Rachel Maddow about folks at two Sanders’ rallies chanting “lock him (Trump) up:” “Senator, should Democrats discourage this? Or are you OK with it?”

Sanders didn’t take the bait: “I think the people of this country are catching on to the degree that this president thinks he is above the law ” He then used the opening to hammer home economic, social and environmental justice issues: wealth and income disparity, “the pain of working families,” gun control and the climate crisis.

Stromberg, preferring centrist Biden’s “Let’s start talking civilly to people,” pivots to Obama’s “don’t boo, vote” mantra at his rallies. Oh, for the golden days of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning moderate whose “go high” statesmanship cosmetically covered the deportation of millions of immigrants and whose illegal drone warfare killed over a thousand innocent civilians.

Obama, whose “hope and change” promise excluded prosecution of the money changers in the temple. Obama, who just told a roomful of wealthy donors, “The average American doesn’t think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” paraphrasing corporate media’s recurrent reference to Sanders’ wanting to “blow up the system.”

“Centrists” ... “moderates” you’ve heard the seemingly unoffending terms constantly in mainstream media. The dictionary defines a centrist as someone with very moderate political views. “Centrism” is defined as a political outlook that supports a balance, of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy. Centrism assumes the present state of affairs, the status quo; it ignores any previous political, economic, social or environmental shifts, left or right.

The Epicurean model, “all things in moderation,” sounds seductively reasonable — unless you live in unreasonable times. I often hear liberal friends argue for moderation in terms of pragmatism, not ideology: “we can appeal to swing voters, non-affiliated voters and moderate Republicans with a more centrist platform — we need a nominee who is electable.”

Deconstructing this “centrism,” let’s look at the status quo upon which they base their “moderation.” It’s the result of 40 years of neoconservative/neoliberal “free-market” economics promoted by Milton Friedman and embraced by Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama.

Free-market economics basically says prices should be determined by unrestricted competition and the “invisible hand” of an unregulated market. This means money unceasingly flows to the already wealthy and, without anti-trust enforcement, to huge national and transnational monopolies. Do these “moderates” know they support this rigged economic ideology that underpins every aspect of our lives? Do they care? Do they sheepishly accept our 40-year drift from reasonable corporate regulation? Are they unconsciously or willfully ignorant that how we execute our economy has everything to do with economic, social, racial and environmental justice?

The Citizens United decision, legitimizing the purchase of our representatives, served as the capstone of a decades-long campaign to wrest power from the many into the hands of the few, transforming our democracy from a mission-driven to a market-driven enterprise.

Un-woke “moderates” are the “good Germans” of our time. They promote the fantasy that a coalition of voters will support their Republican-lite, “moderate” views. Their leaders are those like Biden, Klobuchar and Obama, who preaches that there are “persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans” that are “rooted in reality:” “There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff. They want to see things a little more fair, they want to see things a little more just.”

These “moderate,” liberal corporatist leaders are not FDR Democrats. They are not even Eisenhower Republicans. They call themselves Democrats but, in the final analysis, their loyalty is not to democracy but to unbridled, unfettered capitalism and our four-decade, incremental drift to the right.

Andy Seles lives in Ashland.

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