A Centrist’s Point of View

I have friends who are liberal and friends who are conservative, and while both consider the people on the opposite spectrum to be completely wrong, they also have a problem with centrists.

The conservatives tell me that moderates encourage or at least enable the liberals in their agenda to move the country leftward toward socialism, while the liberals tell me that centrists want to keep the status quo and not make the changes necessary to a vibrant society.

Some accuse centrists of being wishy-washy, of being afraid to commit to a course of action – afraid of uncertainty. I try not to laugh at those comments because I know they’re just trying to make their point, even if they’re born of ignorance.

Because here’s the thing: change is necessary; change is inevitable; change is the embrace of the uncertain. Many of us centrists understand that. We know there are ramifications to our actions and we wish to proceed at a measured pace.

Those who don’t want change at all are simply living in denial. They fail to grasp that change is coming whether they want it or not. At some point in the discussion, they might concede that change is inevitable, but the only change they’re willing to acknowledge is a change backwards to where we were before.

And those who demand radical change embrace a fantasy, certain that there will be no unintended consequences we need worry about. Everything can be adjusted once we make the drastic changes they seek. But what if the drastic changes they seek lead to revolution? Are they worth it?

To me, incremental steps seem like the wisest course of action. Of course, that can be difficult to sell, especially when people are convinced the particular topic at issue won’t be brought up again, so you need to ask for the moon just in case you don’t get another shot at it.

Some cite the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009 (per the 2007 amendments to the FLSA). Before that, the minimum wage was raised by the 1996 amendments to $5.15 per hour. So the minimum wage has only been addressed twice in the last 25 years. That’s a lot of years in which wages haven’t kept pace with inflation.

How would you feel if you hadn’t had a raise in twelve years?

This is why people feel the need to go big. Our elected officials have ignored so many problems for so many years that whenever one comes before them, we have a tendency to want to push for more than we would if we had faith that those issues might be addressed again in a year or two.

But by taking an all or nothing approach, we often get nothing. And we stay with nothing until the problem becomes so severe that we have no choice but to act. That’s no way to run a government – wait for disaster, then go about trying to fix it.

If we could instead embrace gradual change, moderate change, we would find that the number of calamities we face will decrease dramatically. That said, there are very few centrists in politics because we the people refuse to put them there.

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