In politics, centrism or the centre is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy; while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society either strongly to the left or the right.
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- Voters for decades were conned into thinking they were noisome minorities whose best path to influence is to make peace with the mightier "center," which inevitably turns out to support military interventionism, fewer taxes for the rich, corporate deregulation and a ban on unrealistic "giveaway" proposals like free higher education. Those are the realistic, moderate, popular ideas, we're told.
But it's a Wizard of Oz trick, just like American politics in general. There is no numerically massive center behind the curtain. What there is instead is a tiny island of wealthy donors, surrounded by a protective ring of for-sale major-party politicians (read: employees) whose job it is to castigate too-demanding voters and preach realism.
- I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
- Centrism is of vital importance today because the global economy is in a terrible meltdown — perhaps worse than any cyclical slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Alas, many textbooks have strayed too far toward over-complacent libertarianism. They joined the celebration of free-market finance and supported dismantling regulations and abolishing oversight. The bitter harvest of this celebration was seen in the irrationally exuberant housing and stock markets that collapsed and led to the current financial crisis. The centrism we describe is not a prescription that is intended to persuade readers away from their beliefs. We are analysts and not cult prescribers. It is not ideology that breeds centrism as our theme. We sift facts and theories to determine the consequences of Hayek-Friedman libertarianism or Marx-Lenin bureaucratic communism. All readers are free to make up their own minds about best ethics and value judgments. … The follies of the left and right both mandate centrism. Tightly controlled central planning, which was widely advocated in the middle decades of the last century, was abandoned after it produced stagnation and unhappy consumers in communist countries. … Only by steering our societies back to the limited center can we ensure that the global economy returns to full employment where the fruits of progress are more equally shared.
- Paul A. Samuelson, "A Centrist Proclamation" (February 2009), in Paul A. Samuelson and William D. Nordhaus, Economics (19th ed., 2010)