History will look down upon the Republican Party for placing America in a vice, but it will blame the centrists for holding us there. In fact, there are few words in the English language that I despise more than the word ‘centrist’. ‘Content’ perhaps. Or ‘nevertheless’ just for the way it feels. ‘Moist’ maybe, at a stretch. ‘Centrist’ is a nightmare of its own though because it’s wrong for what it stands for; it’s a collection of cowardly ideas masked as moderation and wisdom.
Yes, centrism is a philosophy for cowards.
Centrists are the cowards that during the Civil War believed we could keep slavery in the south so long as the Yankees in the north just calmed down and toed the line. Centrists were the cowards that would happily live in a barbaric and violent nation during the suffragette and Civil Rights movements so long as the corner on which they stood would be a quiet one.
Centrists are cowards because there’s a decision we must make in America. And every generation must make it. We can either choose between intellectual treason and villainy, or we can choose to build a nation of kindness. We can build a place where we don’t have to worry about providing healthcare for our children. We can build a place without fear of poisoning the landscape or the ever present horrors of a climate in the midst of crisis.
We can build a place that is worthy of our patriotism. To do so we must abandon centrism and shrug off the villains and cheap thugs from the right.
It’s only then that we might build a nation of kindness.
There’s something very special about this particular moment in time, an age in which we get to watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez become the graceful statesfolk she has already shown us to be. When I say grace I don’t mean that lightly either, I mean the way in which she communicates, the way Alexandria is not only careful but concerned about the state of kindness in America. I wonder if this is how it felt like to listen to one of the founders, or Lincoln perhaps, when they spoke in public. That sense of progress and momentum with each and every breath.
We are watching a woman become President on Instagram and on Twitter. But unlike #45 who uses the worst parts of those systems to stoke hatred, Alexandria is using the very best parts of them to show us how America works under the hood. And quite frankly I cannot think of anything more inspiring than watching her talk about universal healthcare in her kitchen as she’s cooking after a long day on the hill.
I also cannot think of anything more kind.