The Problem With Centrism

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday he won’t let radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders steal the spirit of the Democratic Party and doubled-down on his attack on fellow liberals who “shunned” him at Martha’s Vineyard.

“I won’t let the Democrats steal my party from me. I want to regain the center,” Dershowitz told WABC Radio’s “Curtis and Cosby” show, noting that he will remain a Democrat as “as long as there’s some chance the Democratic Party can return to normalcy.”

“I want to make sure that the radical Left, the woman who got elected in the Bronx and Queens to Congress on the Democratic ticket, that they and Sanders and others don’t represent the Democratic Party,” he continued, referring to socialist Ocasio-Cortez who pulled off a shock victory last week against incumbent Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley.

“I want a fight within the Democratic Party to restore it to the days when it was a great centrist party, when it united people rather than divided people,” he added.

Alan Dershowitz’ heart is in the right place.

But here’s the problem with “centrism”. Centrism tries to evade or deny principle.

At some point, you have to face principle. It’s either liberty or slavery. Where’s the inspiration in splitting the difference? And where’s the justice?

Centrism will not solve our current crisis. Saying we need a little bit of socialism and a little bit of capitalism will not work. Insisting on a dash of individual rights and the Constitution here, a pinch of Karl Marx there, and a little mob rule thrown in down there will not keep our country together. How do we know this? Because we’ve been attempting it for 75 years or more … and it’s what got us into the present mess!

Immigration would not have become a crisis without the welfare state. The welfare state was the result of centrism. “Let’s not have socialism, but let’s not have capitalism either.” Nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights provides guaranteed unemployment compensation, health insurance, schools, welfare or food stamps. Yet centrism said we had to develop these programs to ward off the totalitarianism of complete socialism. And what did it get us? A Democratic Party now committed to the totalitarianism of complete command-and-control socialism.

Dershowitz is yearning for the impossible. The Democratic Party has waited for a long time to get to this point. Donald Trump, with his brash and unapologetic style, merely provided the excuse. “He’s mean. He’s a fascist. So now we can justify our own approach of fascism.”

In a bizarre, twisted sort of way, I actually agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. They’re saying: It’s one or the other. We can’t have both. And I agree.

If you won’t take my word for it, then take the word of one of America’s greatest founders, Thomas Paine:

“Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

Exactly. We cannot confuse psychology and tone with substance and principle. Freedom is a hard, ruthless and uncompromising idea. So is slavery. Your life either belongs to you — or to the government. The Democratic Party’s rising stars have their answer, and there’s nothing centrist about it. So what will be yours?

Dershowitz asks for moderation in principles. But the principles at stake are individualism versus the state. Private property versus government ownership of everything. The rationality of profit and markets versus the stagnation and ultimately starvation of command-and-control, unaccountable bureaucracy.

In the end, the principles at stake are Freedom versus Slavery.

At some point, America and Mr. Dershowitz, you’ll have to choose one or the other. The time is nearly here.

Happy Independence Day.

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