What's a centrist?

Might I ask that (in general and for everyone) you spell out words instead of using abbreviations? That way it’s clear up front. You can then use abbreviations after you’ve spelled out what they stand for. Thanks.



I just read the below after I first posted this. This is exactly why it’s so important to spell out complete words. Please don’t be so lazy, people:

What you have described seems most closely aligned with fascism. Fascism with universal healthcare, but fascism nonetheless. Think on that.

So… I’m still wondering what the difference is between “moderates” and “centrists”. One difference is that back in the day, everyone wanted to identify as a moderate. I’m not EXTREME, I’m a moderate.

I used to describe myself as moderately liberal.

Today, I mostly seem to read screeds by progressives about how horrible the evil and hypocritical centrists are. And I rarely see anyone claim to be a centrist. (until this excellent thread.) So, are the modern progressives pissed at old-fashioned moderates for not being liberal enough? Or is there something else going on?

The people I see who claim to be centrists tend to be arch-conservatives who can’t countenance the idea that anyone to left of them on the political spectrum, including democrats, could possibly have a rational basis for their political views. They are so far from center in reality I just sort of roll my eyes and die a little more on the inside when I see someone identify as “centrist.”

I penned this in 2016:

It’s out of date. Bernie and AOC have expanded the US Overton window and now I’m somewhere on the US center-left. Yay! It’s about time.

I’m still a centrist by European standards insofar as I could imagine myself voting Tory or Labour in the UK, depending. In France, I would be a Macron guy.

Hijack: Google gave me absolutely nothing with this search specification.
“measure for measure” centrist far left fringe of the American political spectrum. site:straightdope.com

Duck-Duck Go gave me a lot, none of it helpful. I only found my quote with Ecosia.com “The search engine that plants trees.” Sheesh.

Regarding the OP, never-Trump conservatives who disavow white nationalism might reasonably be characterized as centrist in the existing US political spectrum. Many of them might be considered pretty far right in 2005, but times change.

I would have thought it could be okay in P&E, or even as its own topic in IMHO, honestly. (just not in the one that sparked it.) But I guarantee you I will not be tone-policing this in the pit. :wink:

Those interested in the Lincoln Party can check out this twitter feed: “candidates for office in 2021 and beyond who embrace: respect for rule of law; deficit reduction; multilateralism;+ reject cult of personality…”

There’s also performative centrism, practiced by politicians who believe they are vulnerable to a primary challenge, political opportunists, poseurs, and Joe Manchin.

Most people who I have encountered that described themselves as “Centrist” were proud that, no matter what the subject was, both the left and the right had the wrong answer, that the only correct answer had to in the center. This means that they are not responsible for the ills of society-No matter what happens, their hands are clean.


Actually, I’ve noticed more people calling themselves centrists/moderates who are really essentially old-school little-‘c’ conservatives without all the religious and racist baggage of today’s Republican party.

People who can be say… pro choice, pro LGBTQ, pro racial equity, etc… but still be skeptical of things like UBI, and have serious reservations about how UHC might be implemented. And who are in favor of a more assertive/dominant foreign policy as well. And who aren’t convinced that “Free” anything from the government is ever a good thing.

The problem is, that there’s not a place for these folks, and as such, they’re having to hold their noses and vote one way or the other, without liking either party much.

Generally speaking self-described “centrists” come in two main flavors:

  1. “The Enlightened Contrarian”: People who have a very high opinion of their own intellect and the belief that something popular is automatically bad/wrong. They love to swoop in and play Devil’s Advocate. Mental masturbation is their favorite pastime, and doubly enjoyable when it has a sense of taboo where they can debate topics like subsets of humanity deserve to be treated like animals or not.

  2. “The Confused”: It’s all so confusing to them. Who can keep up with the changes in culture/politics? Not them. So rather than think or try to figure out any of their own positions they sit on sidelines and snipe at all sides of an issue. The solution for everything is simply to meet in the middle without thinking, because it’s easy.

Of course there are overlaps between the two, but I don’t see that any of the local centrists here don’t fall into these broad groups.

Ugh, “he lost me.” This is probably the most infuriating posture of self-proclaimed centrists that I run across.

“The left will have to convince me.”
“This candidate must pander to me.”
“The right can’t win unless they meet voters like me in the middle.”

Like how about you get off your ass and take a stand of your own. How privileged is somebody who sits on their recliner demanding that everyone else come kiss your ring?

I don’t hate political moderates, I get it. I’m moderate on certain things just because I don’t understand them, or where that passion comes from. I’m humble enough to say “I don’t know” and cautious enough to say “I’ll ride the fence until I do know.” But this posture of “I’m the unbiased middle, everyone must converge at my feet” is just so gross and dumb.

This is only the furthest centrist position. And while I don’t agree with people who are absolutely centrist on all issues, I think people who never take a centrist positioncan be just as problematic. It’s important to find the middle ground between both extremes.

Where is the best middle ground between benevolence and self-serving greed? Just because one side is extreme doesn’t automatically make the other side extreme.

I guess I didn’t make the sarcasm obvious enough.

Sorry-I’ve only had two pots of espresso this morning.

Hm… I don’t believe I’ve ever described myself as a “centrist”, but I’m probably pretty close to the “center-left” (very close to Joe Biden, actually) in my politics. So it wouldn’t be a total misnomer.

But I’m very much not either one of those things (and neither is Joe Biden).

For me it’s much closer to what previous posters in this thread have pointed out. I honestly believe that many of the hot-button issues of our day have vast room for compromise, but our political system and media structure have every incentive to make it seem like there isn’t.

Now, in today’s environment there is only one party that a centrist (of my ilk) can support, but they are still a centrist.