I was talking to my mother this morning, as I do every Saturday. We were having a friendly argument about the causes and solutions of social problems, as we do every Saturday. I was not satisfied with the solutions proposed by some leaders of our party, but definitely disagreed with the opposite solutions. Mom wanted to know what was in between. This led me to a helpful, spontaneous clarification.
Let me put this in a too-strong way at first in order to be clear:
A centrist wants to promote what is best for society, tolerate what is good enough, and prevent what is harmful.
Conservatives want to promote what is best for society, and prevent everything else.
Liberals want to promote all options (except the truly dangerous ones) as equally good.
If your first reaction to this is, “Who is to say what is best?” you are a probably a liberal.
If your first reaction to this is, “Why settle for mediocrity?” you are probably a conservative.
If this bell-curve picture of the social options seems reasonable to you, and you have no principled objection to making discriminating judgments – welcome to the Gruntled Center.
(Feeling centrist, but not gruntled? I will take that up tomorrow).