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Politico - August 2018

Every time Democrats lose a presidential election, blue America promptly collapses into civil war—and never more so than in the aftermath of 2016. Progressive Democrats, buoyed by a number of high-profile victories, insist that if the party is to have any hope of fending off Trumpism, it must decisively move to the political left by embracing the populist messaging and agenda of insurgent outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Establishment Democrats (egged on by eye-rolling pundits and concern-trolling never-Trumpers) dismiss that idea as electoral suicide, contending that now more than ever is the time for the party to reclaim the political center by championing an agenda that pragmatically appeals to voters on both sides of the aisle.

And you know what? They’re absolutely right. All of them. The Democratic Party must reclaim the political center. And the only way to do that is by boldly moving toward the so-called “radical” left.

If this strikes you as counterintuitive, you’re not alone. By respectively attempting to purge the center or marginalize the left, progressive and establishment Democrats alike have displayed a willful ignorance of where and what the center actually is. This is not mere wordplay. Over the past several decades, Democrats have allowed a mistaken and self-destructive definition of centrism to become party orthodoxy. It continues to undermine party unity at a time when a unified Democratic Party is more essential than ever.

In fact, there are two kinds of political centers: There’s the ideological center—the one that Democrats are waging a civil war over. And there’s the majoritarian center—the one where most of the people are. If Democrats hope to be a majority party, it’s the majoritarian center they need to embrace. And to understand the difference between these two strains of centrism, it’s important to understand exactly what the center is measuring. ...
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