Why the 'radical center' must be the future of American politics
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The election of Emmauel Macron to the presidency of France means different things to different people. To Democrats in the United States and those who opposed Brexit, it means a victory against the forces of change that brought about Brexit and the Trump presidency.

But to others, Macron’s victory in France signals a victory for those independent-minded politicians and citizens who wish to transcend the polarized politics of establishment liberals and establishment conservatives in the name of a new center, not a moderate center associated with United States and United Kingdom “Third Way” politics but what has been described as Macron’s “radical center” point of view.

Those in the radical center — and there are American thinkers who have used this phrase — shy away from adopting moderate policies which represent a compromise between left and right. The radical center aims to be more ambitious than the moderate center.

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Indeed, the radical center does not regard itself as a “centrist” position at all. It doesn’t really sit in between left and right on the old Congress of Vienna left to right half circle.

 

The radical center transcends left and right but takes important elements of both sides.

In the United States, we need candidates for Congress and the presidency and governor and state legislatures who also occupy the radical center, but the language of “radical center” does not play well in the United States.

Therefore, the time has come to build radical center campaigns but to describe them in new ways.

Language is of the first importance to politics, whether you are Winston Churchill sustaining the British people during the Battle of Britain, Franklin Roosevelt inspiring citizens during the Great Depression, or Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOPINION | Trump, Mika and Joe all show zero ability to act like adults Sanders: Trump will fight 'fire with fire' GOP congresswoman condemns Trump tweet: 'This is not okay' MORE tweeting followers in the 2016 race for president.

And although millions of Americans demonstrated an appetite for a “socialist” candidate for president in 2016, namely Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP touts FBI probe into Sanders’s wife New Alexandra Pelosi documentary brings together GOP, Dem members Sanders: FBI inquiry of wife is 'pathetic' attack MORE, we are not ready for a candidate that is a “radical” in any sense of the term.

I nominate a few names for this new point of view, but others should chime in: The “new American center,” “the ambitious center,” the “21st Century center,” and the “common sense center.”   

Whatever we call it, we need a phrase.

This new center can defend the kind of policy that I myself ran on in the Democratic Primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in 2016, namely one that provided hard-working young middle-class families with a choice once a baby is born: six months of paid parental leave plus three years of child-care support at $10,000 a year or six months of paid parental leave plus three years of a tax-credit for a stay at home mom or a stay at home dad at the level of $10,000 a year, and that includes families with two moms or two dads.

This family policy is a radical center policy even though I did not call it that because it would not have sounded appealing to the people of Frederick and Carroll Counties in Maryland where I targeted my race.

But that’s what it was.

Macron and his followers can talk about the radical center because people talk that way in France.

We need a way to talk that will work here.

This point of view speaks to millions of Americans, many of whom vote Republican and Democrat today, who do not identify with the far right of the Republican Party or the far left of the Democratic Party. They currently sit in the middle and many are Independents.

They are waiting for someone to articulate the values and policies of the radical center, which admittedly leans more toward the Democrats than the Republicans.

It is time to articulate those values and policies, but it is necessary to drop the phrase “radical center” and find a new one.

Whether this point of view can be embraced by the Democratic Party or needs an outsider or outsiders to the Democratic Party only time will tell. But this point of view is an option for Kathleen Matthews, Chairwoman of the Democrat Party in Maryland, and Montgomery County’s Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

This radical center point of view, renamed, will be opposed to the Trump point of view but it will build on the anti-establishment theme of the Trump administration.

Dave Anderson was a candidate in the 2016 Democratic Primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. 


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