With 2018 shaping up to be yet another under-performing election season for Centrists, the need for yet another step back has become painfully obvious.
If ever there was a time that forced Centrists to step up, organize, coordinate and take action, it was the election cycle of 2016. 2015 and 2016 should have been an activist Centrist proving ground. By early 2016, Centrists should have been at every rally, every candidate speaking appearance, every fundraiser and every protest speaking on the broken two-party system, the threats of the rising wings, and Centrists’ visions to offer something better.
The opportunities to reach out to our fellow discouraged, disenfranchised, and disenchanted Americans were innumerable. It was a hungry and captive audience looking for change, but only finding more divisive two-party candidates and even more extreme and divisive “third” parties.
The chance to show potential benefactors a group willing to put in the work to build an organization worthy of their support instead of having to continue throwing their money into divisive two-party politics-as-usual came and went with nothing to show on the other end.
Wide angle media coverage of almost the entire U.S. political spectrum at every level was unprecedented. With media and their audiences tripping over themselves to see “what’s out there” or “how crazy it can get”, Centrists once again chose to sit in the bleachers, fragmented, instead of making themselves seen, heard, and ready.
As a result, we got the government and the societal situation we worked for. The organized and active divisive two parties won again. The loud and active wings made themselves seen and heard, found bonds, built clout, and put themselves on the map and into the minds of voters and politicians looking for what else is out there.
But whether it was to be Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Stein, or Johnson, Centrists lost before the polls even opened. That may have been a fair price to pay if the results included, finally, a cohesive, organized, active and focused Centrist movement.
But they don’t.
We. Just. Lost.
This writer spent the 2016 election cycle working with one of the better-known groups seen as a centrist political party. For over a year, averaging about 20 hours per week, the effort was two-pronged. First – to recruit, activate, organize and develop as many Centrists as possible. Second – to convince the “party” to quit repeating the same failures of the past (nominating/endorsing federal-level candidates, putting fundraising first, talking politics, devising the perfect platform, etc.) and instead fully embrace grassroots organizing and activism.
The need to get active for 2016 came from realizing in 2014 the adversarial divisiveness at the federal level seeping into the lower levels of our government and society. Just like in Washington for years, local politics in 2014 seemed to be mostly about “our guy” versus “their guy”, or “our agenda” versus “their agenda”, and about win at all costs.
To a long-disgusted and apathetic political newcomer, this was a shock to the system. And a wake-up call. 2014 was spent trying to build a local civic organization to address issues with the local government and government operations and with what seemed to be a widespread combination of civic divisiveness and apathy within a typical bedroom community.
Inevitably, seeing the similarities at local, state, and federal levels led to a realization of how bad off we as a nation actually are. The culture of two sides was and is pervasive. However, knowing that there are rarely only two sides to a story or only two paths to choose from towards solutions, this writer eventually found Centrism.
But for a concept so badly needed within American society, Centrism in 2014 seemed to be some kind of newly discovered species that people were still trying to recognize, examine, define, categorize, and understand. That hasn’t changed in over three years. (In fact, Centrism and centrist efforts as far back as the 2008 election cycle seem incredibly and frustratingly identical to those of the 2018 election cycle!)
For this Centrist, those three years since 2014 have been spent wandering the woods trying to get a bearing, trying to recognize where we are and where we are supposed to be going, and continually finding that we need to backtrack in order to discover or create things that we assumed already existed. Three years were spent reaching out to individuals and pseudo-organizations, looking for compatriots and common cause to run with. They were spent researching and joining groups that ultimately weren’t what they were portrayed to be. They were spent getting fired up for groups that seemed to have their Centrist act together, only to find that all they wanted was money, more contacts, petition signatures, or social media promotion. They were spent communicating with countless people who were all for a Centrist party and Centrist candidates, as long as someone else was going to do the work to make it happen.
Ultimately came the realization that a Centrist Party or organization for change to join didn’t and doesn’t exist. So one must need to be built. Centrist candidates seem to only exist within the two-party dynamic, and not as Centrists for Centrism’s sake. So true Centrist candidates must need to be identified, recruited, developed, and supported. Self-described Centrists can only define Centrism as a personal set of beliefs, or as what they were told in a government class somewhere, or as points on various charts and graphics. So Centrism must need to be animated, brought to life. Centrists seemingly spend their time wonking, or researching, analyzing, and discussing how screwed up our situation is to the point of exhaustion. So the work to somehow coalesce them into something to actually do something about our situation must need to be started.
And so, another step backwards. Finding no party or organization or fellow Centrists to get active with, this Centrist activist has become a blogger.
Third Decade Centrist (3DC) was originally created to finally bring together, organize, and activate American Centrists and Moderates for the work to be done throughout the coming decade for sustained reasonable change at all levels of our society and political system. It was hoped that 2017 and 2018 would be spent building our experience, unity, strength and credibility to be a noticeable and sustainable blip on the American political radar, and that each successive election cycle would be spent actively building that momentum into a movement, an organization, and candidates for real, positive change by 2028-2030.
But like 2016, and 2012, and 2008, we’re not even on the path. So 3DC will instead be just one Centrist’s tangible views on what that path looks like, how we get on it, and how we successfully navigate it. 3DC will be a manifesto of sorts that others will agree or disagree with. But it is, more than anything, an invitation to something for other Centrists to get active with, “from scratch”, and help build to collectively steer in the direction of where we should have been almost 10 years ago.
Short of a depressing Centrist history lesson, it is as far back for a starting point as this Centrist can bear to go.