In Defense of a Centrist

I am a centrist. For many in the world of politics that means I am apparently an unprincipled flip flopper who will go wherever the political winds take me. For them, my want to find a reasonable compromise is something dirty. I am writing this to call ‘bullshit’. Being centrist, the want to find a desirable outcome for all involved, is how empires are built. The world, including Canada, seeks the common ground, where we can work together, rather than tear each other apart. The strength of centrism can be proven in the three pillars: public policy, economic issues, international issues and social issues in both the proven success of the middle ground and the failure of extremes. 


To spend or not to spend. That is the argument of the left and the right. That you either need to throw money at every problem or turn off the tap and let everything die. With Centrists, the plan is to invest. If we can improve something we put time, effort and resources into it and if it is a boondoggle we get rid of it. You see this in the success in thoughtful, moderate leaders. Internationally, Barack Obama brought the United States out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression, nationally, Justin Trudeau’s investments have produced the strongest economic growth in Canada in 20 years and locally, Stephen McNeil has put Nova Scotia into a solid financial standing over more than a decade of mismanagement under the Conservatives and NDP. Centrist policies and principles work, producing stability and confidence. 


In the last 60 years, the global state has dramatically changed. Nuclear states have emerged, the borders of the world have been thrown into flux and the invention of the internet has made the world more connected than ever. The reactionaries on both side of the political spectrum would have you fear every twitch that changed the global balance but centrists have found the formula to lasting peace. Non-interventionists would have you believe that we need to cut ourselves off from the world, make sure no one can come into our borders, or in other words: making sure that you stay on your side of the wall. If we went with their way we would fall into chaos and the rest of the world would continue. On the flip side, there are those who want to cut nations off from one another and over exert their control, creating foes rather than friends. As a moderate, I have seen the success of seeking change through dialogue, finding accommodations that promote cooperation, prosperity, and peace. We find the proof in the Iran Nuclear Deal, the NAFTA agreement and the Paris Climate Accord. Ending conflict with words rather than bricks that would be thrown or used to build walls. 


Finally, we come the numerous problems that plague the fabric of our social infrastructure and our mortality. We on both sides of the political spectrum hurl insults at each other rather than offer solutions. The societal wrongs that we faced are viewed as a weapon in the political blame game rather than challenges to overcome. Centrists have been able to largely duck the mud being thrown. We work hard for the necessary changes, building a foundation to grow rather than trying to fix everything in one big swing of a sledgehammer. It is probably the thing that makes centrist so unloved sometimes, because we offer reality and hard work rather than the quick fix. In the battle for civil rights, marriage equality and more we see that the ultimate victory was not won over night but in hard, incremental steps because society is often unready for a big leap. It can be the harder and the more frustrating route but is the right one. 


Left, right, tradition or change there always seems to be a balance somewhere that moves us forward but also closer together. We must respect each other, but be bold enough to make new strides. It is the imperfect perfection of moderation, the only proven method of progress and stability and it is why, despite the naysayers, I am sticking by it.