Seeing The World Through Partisan Eyes

Jonah Goldberg doesn't like centrists (particularly that newfangled 'claptrap' group, No Labels):
What no-labelers really mean [by calling themselves centrists] is that they don't like inconvenient disagreements that hinder their agenda. And that's what is so troubling, indeed so undemocratic, about this claptrap. When they claim we need to put aside labels to do what's right, what they are really saying is you need to put aside what you believe in and do what they say. When activists say we need to move past the partisan divide, what they mean is: Shut up and get with my program. Have you ever heard anyone say, "We need to get past all of this partisan squabbling and name-calling. That's why I'm going to abandon all my objections and agree with you?" I haven't.

No Labels says it's "about taking the politics out of problem-solving." It is amazing how cavalierly people say this sort of thing, as if this wasn't the rationale behind pretty much every dictatorship since the dawn of man. Nearly once a week, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman gives voice to his full-blown man-crush on China's one-party dictatorship because — according to Friedman — the Chinese, unlike us, can implement "optimal" policies without getting bogged down in such distractions as elections, the rule of law, human rights, etc.

Look: You can't take the politics out of problem-solving. Politics, even in China, is the art of problem-solving. People aiming to yank the politics out of government invariably end up removing the democracy instead. argument to which I would counter with what my new(ish) friend Solomon Kleinsmith (of quasi-fame) says in his WNYC op-ed:
Many on the left look at No Labels and see a conservative wolf in centrist clothing, ignoring the democrats and centrist independents who are throwing their support behind it. They’re myopically focusing on conservative supporters like David Frum, as well as Mark McKinnon, a long time Republican operative who is among the founders. On the right, they are more focused on the staff, many of whom are veterans of moderate Democratic groups like the Democratic Leadership Council and Third Way. Having another founder in Democratic operative Kiki McLean proves, to them, a left wing conspiracy is afoot.

These people cannot possibly know if there is a hidden agenda behind No Labels, nor can they know who the financial backers are who haven't come out publicly, but this doesn't stop them from pretending. Many are claiming that No Labels is a political party, laying the foundation for a Bloomberg Presidential run in 2012.


As for all the theories flying around, John Avlon, centrist independent pundit on CNN, former Giuliani speechwriter and columnist at The Daily Beast, might say these folks have a variant of what he calls Obama or Bush derangement syndrome, where ideology has blinded them to such a degree that they can’t just see something for what it is. No Labels doesn’t fit into their artificial ideological worldview, so they pull off mental gymnastics to invent wingnut conspiracy theories about how the group must be a puppet of dark forces from the other end of the political spectrum.

These ad hominem attacks are one sign that No Labels is my kinda group. I put up with the same attacks every day myself.
Now, I haven't bought-in to No Labels with the same furvor as Solomon, but I tend to agree more with him than I do with Goldberg. Duh.

Jonah Goldberg approaches the idea of centrism with the cynical skepticism of a man blinded by partisanship. To Golberg, everything is either right or left.

Conservative or liberal.
Capitalist or Communist.
Republican or Democratic.

There is no grey area in Golberg's view -- for there can be no room for it. Everything is either black or white. It is this this type of thinking that frustrates me about politics -- for many hyper-partisans, there can be no compromise.

And therein lies my disagreement with people -- on the right or the left -- like Goldberg; I believe that compromise is what needs to happen for anything to get done.

[ed note: Please don't misunderstand my point here -- I do realize that there are certain issues that, for some people, are uncompromisable (if that is indeed a word). I just think that if people never compromise, sh*t won't get done -- on a personal or a governmental level.]

Photo: Flickr user AnotherPrintPlease