Center? Where was the so-called center when republicans confirmed three far right conservatives to the court, not forgetting that two of those seats were stolen. Why is that when a democrat has the opportunity to appoint a new justice they become so concerned with how the right will view their candidate that they try to appease them by selecting someone who will do little to enact positive changes. Now is not the time to tread lightly, it’s time to march full speed ahead and nominate a person who will answer to the will of the people.

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Where, exactly is Manchin’s “center?”

It is a place of inaction that is comfortable for those that like things just the way they are because they, themselves, are prospering and don’t want want that to be threatened. It is a place where problems can be ignored and the reality of most people is of no concern. It is the eye of a hurricane where those who bathe in the temporary calm can tune out the chaos all around them. It is not a place to seek when there are violent storms all around.

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I'm fed up with hearing about the "mid-terms" every day when the Senate hasn't done the job it was hired for in the first place - in the real business world, any employee who would be spending time doing things other than the job they were hired for would and should be booted out. The ugly truth is that Congress thinks its job is playing games and playing politics rather than enacting legislation that helps its citizens. Disgusting.

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Thank you for talking about this. I've always found myself frustrated by the comment "I'm a centrist." What does that even mean? ..."I excel at inaction" ?

Amen on your thought about where to find restless voters: "There’s a simpler way: Look at who’s losing ground in the economy. They’re the ones who are up for grabs. Lead them by giving them the means to do better — and a reason to vote for you." (Reich)

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I agree these bullshit “ leaders “ have no clue what legislative leadership is all about, centralism is a bullshit term for doing nothing and getting paid to occupy a position of importance without using your brain, or exerting your time. A vast majority of these “ leaders “ would do the Nation a favor by getting a job at MacDonlds

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Thanks so much for calling bullshit, because that's what it is and has always been, despite claims by the punditry and self-serving politicians that most Americans are in the mythical "center". It's about time someone of stature (i.e. you) stated what has been obvious to many serious, fact-based Americans for a long, long time.

Another excellent column.

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Unfortunately, Bernie did just that twice but was immobilized by his “centered” counterparts/party. I am so frustrated with our broken system.

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Wow. Powerful essay. Just a thought about the political aspects. In both of his elections, Clinton received a plurality, not a majority, of the popular vote. In the 1994 midterms, his party suffered huge losses. So if winning elections is the goal of these consultants, I don't see Clinton as a shining example.

The president could show leadership and use his bully pulpit by refusing to talk about left, right, or center, unrelentingly turning the discussion away from this nonsense, making it taboo. I would love to see him and his spokespersons respond to media questions about whether his policies are "too liberal" or whether he should "move to the center," with "I'm not going to answer questions about left, right, center. Ask me a question that requires some knowledge of and thought about the substance of the policies."

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Got to do something about the propaganda machine on the right.

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Thank you for this commentary today. In my mind, canceling student loan debt and completely reforming the cost of an education and how it is paid for is a perfect example of "Look at who’s losing ground in the economy. They’re the ones who are up for grabs. Lead them giving them (us!) the means to do better -- and a reason to vote for you."

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We live in a country that has drifted so far to the right (far more hide-bound and reactionary than the 50's, when I grew up) that to talk about the Center is absurd. When you have a political party that explicitly states that it is out to hobble the government and block any legislation the democrats offer, terms like Left and Right and Center don't even apply. When smiley face fascism is embraced by the right, it is no time to pretend that old school categories still apply.

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As often noted, when "radical leftist", which is code for "evil communist", is the term for those who are simply interested in the welfare of others and the society at any level, and being an uncaring, self-serving, fascism-loving authoritarian is not called the radical right, being a "centrist" would mean being a traditional conservative who doesn't give a damn about anyone but themself. So, no, there is no moral high ground or even political expediency in being a centrist. This is what I wish Biden better understood. We are engaged in a Cold Civil War, and good people must act accordingly.

We need to reshape the culture of at least tens of millions of people. The chances of doing that with a direct approach are near zero because culture is religious in nature to begin with. The only lever we have that has a significant chance of influencing Trumpsters is to put so much money in their pockets that even they who routinely vote against their own interests will not be so self-destructive as to vote against whatever is achieving that particular outcome. Build Back Better should be a program whose actual purpose is to direct as many jobs as possible to to those who are currently destroying this country. We need to change our cultural infrastructure even more than we need to update our bridges, schools, and other shared facilities.

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Professor, you diagrammed what happened to ‘the center’ some weeks ago, perfectly.

This is all part of the ‘Bigger Lie’

The Bigger Lie is also said out loud, but it’s much much older.

The Bigger Lie is: ‘We are broke!’

We have $136 Trillion of personal net wealth.

We are not broke! That’s not just misleading, it’s an insane lie. Insane!

The Bigger Lie registers with regular voters because so many of them *are* broke, or nearly.

The ‘center’ is the center of Wall Street. Not a good place to stand, I say. Yellow stripes and road kill, to channel Hightower.

Senator Mansion wants lower taxes on rich mansion guys like him, it seems. ( He tips the balance to the Dem caucus, he has voted for some big packages, it’s complicated. )

My hope is to shift the focus and the spotlight from cultural bs to this ‘Bigger Lie.’

Regular people should have *much lower* tax rates, but pay about the same by getting much higher salaries.

The Rs have been talking this lie forever.

R voters should be angry that they have been lied to this bad, for this long, and vote for progress instead.

Progressives and liberals have said we have the money, we can afford it, *but won’t pound the table with the number!* So regular voters say, ‘they’re crazy, we’re broke!’

Everybody knows we are looking for $3 Trillion over 10 years to repair, rebuild, upgrade and transform our economy and general welfare.

So people know ‘Trillions.’

‘Nobody’ knows we need just $300 Billion next year for this BBB bill, *not* Trillions, which is like asking someone with $136 in their bank accounts for 30 cents.

30 cents!

check the math, pound the table!

best luck to US — b.rad

ps thanks Professor for exclaiming months ago that the real numbers we are talking about are 1/10 of the number clueless Dems and demented media shout out there …

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When you came up in politics there was a generational gap. It was abundantly evident in Chicago in 1968 when the liberal anti-war wing of the Party was under attack by the Johnson/Daley "center" and vice versa. Humphrey was a liberal but he was unable to break from the centrist hold on the Party and come out against the War in Vietnam. Sound familiar. Biden has been unable to organize a strategy and provide leadership because he was never a part of the liberal wing of the Party. He is stuck like Humphrey without Humphrey's angst in the face of the Bernie outlined reforms.

So Nixon barely wins 1968. The younger anti-war generation (read anti-global warming generation today) wasn't able to effect the outcome.

Nixon consolidates power and brings over centrists to the Republican Party to sit with Rockefeller Republicans and segregationists and you and other current leaders of Congress cut your teeth on and participate in the McGovern throw away candidacy. Nixon smashes the Dems in 1972. Time marches on. By 1976 we are ten years into the baby boom generation and the Dems have moved to cater to all of that generations demands because they are voting.

Today is similar to 1968. The Dems know where they have to go thanks to Bernie but don't want to. If they did they would develop a strategy to get there. The young are not going to vote in November and the working class is sick and fed up with unrealized economic promises.

So the Republicans will smash the Dems who won't even know what hit them thanks to the political operatives you mentioned.

Is there any hope here?

Well what eventually ended the War in Vietnam was the older generation listening to the younger generation. Nixon tried desperately to continue the War and he began to overreach and go after members of the establishment and that was his downfall. When Nixon went so did the War.

In the present situation the supporters of Clinton and Biden and the "loyal" Dems just haven't yet grasped the necessity to move in the direction of reform. If they did they would be pressuring the politicians in Washington and Joe Manchin wouldn't be a factor because every federal penny going to WV would be cut off.

Will they wake up before it is too late. History says no. There are no mass demonstrations. The reactionaries are moving the country toward another Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan military debacle. The Dems are passive and Biden has no strategy to deal with the pipsqueaks like Manchin and Sinema.

After November it might be different but it might take a decade before the younger generations stop looking to mommy and daddy to solve all their problems and begin to stand up.

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I really appreciate not mincing any words here. Extremist (I use this word since SCOTUS sicced vigilantes on pregnant women) right wing ideologues on the Supreme Court, the GOP bogged down in corruption, the emergence of fascist policies in Virginia as other states enter this path of radicalization and Manchin, ANYONE, has the unmitigated gall to call for being CENTRIST. This is the complete normalization of authoritarianism and desperately needs to be called out every second of the day.

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Spot on Robert . And with the majority of the nation feeling the 'pinch'; economically, socially, emotionally, familially and now with the threat of global conflict looming ? Biden, playing his cards right, making clear moves to improve the lot of the average American, aligning himself with the likes of Mr Sanders, who understands that lot. Calling out Manchin, Sinema, Trump and Republicans for who and what they are, stands poised to swing our national pendulum back to that center. One can only hope his actions concise, his motives righteous and his path back to the nation we all hope to be clear.

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