Thursday, March 15, 2012


Michael Lind, in his 1996 publication Up From Conservatism, writes that, though American radical centrism is today a minority political philosophy, it was, in fact, the dominant political philosophy within the United States from the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt through Lyndon Johnson — a philosophy that was shared both by the presidents of that era and the majority of the American people. Therefore, Lind argues, the American "radical" centrism of today is simply the adamant pursuit for a return to the once-mainstream political principle of New Deal economic progressivism coupled with a moderate cultural conservatism. This modest cultural conservatism would be exemplified on the political stage simply by the "radical centrist" politician's refusal to politicize or advocate culturally-liberal issues like abortion or gay rights. However, the radical centrist politician might spurn any influence or pressure coming from the Religious Right and other socially conservative groups (pro-life advocates, school prayer advocates, etc.)
In March 2011 the leader of the Liberal Democrats, a social liberal and social democratic party, and Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, stated that he believed that his party belonged to the radical center. Clegg also invoked the legacies of John Meynard Keynes, William Beveridge, Jo Grimond, David Lloyd George and John Stuart Mill, implying that they too were elements of the radical center. He pointed to liberalism as an ideology of people, and therefore, one of the radical center:
"For the left, an obsession with the state. For the right, a worship of the market. But as liberals, we place our faith in people. People with power and opportunity in their hands. Our opponents try to divide us with their outdated labels of left and right. But we are not on the left and we are not on the right. We have our own label: Liberal. We are liberals and we own the freehold to the centre ground of British politics. Our politics is the politics of the radical centre."
The radical center is most often associated with ideologies such as social liberalism and progressivism. Policies from the radical center tend to be pro-civil liberties, progressive taxation and climate change tackling. Parties or institutions belonging to the radical center believe that there are more than two sides to an argument and that few people belong 'tribally' to either the left or the right. Often arguments from the radical center are that policy should be based around ordinary people, but that the political left bases policy around what is best for the state and that the political right bases its policy around what is best for the markets.

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