Why the Continued March to Extreme Left/Right Must End
Turning the Centre Into a Strong Creator of Dialogue
By George Kell
In a recent article published in Maclean’s, Andray Domise prophesied the end of centrist politics. In Domise’s article, the political left is blamed for being pulled to the centre, neglecting issues such as identity politics to uphold the status quo.
In Domise’s critique, the terms “neoliberalism” and “capitalist interests” are used to condemn complacent, compromise-based centrism. Pragmatic politicians are blamed for being complicit in retaining the status quo on urgent environmental, economic, and social issues. Domise writes that this complacency needs to be exchanged for meaningful action. In presenting this critique of centrism, Domise uses the examples of European countries dealing with increasingly popular right-wing populist movements. The article ends with a call for Corbynite social democracy, leading one to question, ‘where did centrists go wrong’?
Although Domise has a thoughtful argument that centrist, neoliberal policies have often failed, and that populist movements have arisen from these failures, why should centrism die? Centrism is the divide between populism and radicalism, the sphere of acceptable political thought. A drive towards either edge will make leaders like Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh appear too mainstream to effectively represent the population.
“A drive towards either edge will make leaders like Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh appear too mainstream to effectively represent the population.”
If confidence in democracy is fading, then people might believe that pushing an ideology on one group to another forcibly will lead to acceptance – but it has led to visceral resistance and a breakdown of dialogue. Using the environment, economy, and social justice, most people know that these are all urgent issues needing to be addressed. However, this requires that centrism stop being its old, compromising self, and become a mechanism to elicit effective dialogue. Contrary to the other sides’ interpretations, both the left and right have legitimate concerns that cannot be addressed without cross-partisan activism.
“However, this requires that centrism stop being its old, compromising self, and become a mechanism to elicit effective dialogue.”
Politics is meant to be an arena in which people who have similar goals in society debate on how best to address the issues of the times. However, to denigrate one’s opponents doesn’t promote dialogue, it stifles it. Contrary to Domise, if we’re to blame people who are complicit in the politically polarized situation we’re in now, the uncompromising left and right are complicit too.
“…if we’re to blame people who are complicit in the politically polarized situation we’re in now, the uncompromising left and right are complicit too.”
Centrism needs to be the unifying force it once was by not simply rolling over to compromise, but being the most open to suggestion and reason, and persuading others to join (ed. note – check out ASC’s blog on how to get involved) its ranks. Together, creating and strengthening an invigorated centrist movement will create a stronger, more unified Canada.
Want to see more posts like this? Toss us a couple bucks on Patreon to continue promoting better conversations between Canadians of all political stripes.