Finding the center

Lloyd Brown
It is disheartening to hear some Republicans calling for the party to be more "centrist." That would only be desirable if the meaning of the word had not been redefined by the Old Media.

Centrism, like most other political designations, really boils down to OPM (Other People's Money) and how to spend it without taking any blame.

If centrist really meant what the dictionary says it means, this is how it would work. Conservatives want less government spending. Liberals want more. The center would be the current level.

But, as the media defines it, current spending is one side of the spectrum and whatever liberals want to spend is the other end. To achieve "bipartisanship" and "consensus," conservatives must agree to spend at least half as much as liberals want. Less spending is not even in the equation.

When conservatives do the media's bidding, as many did from 2000-2008, it may earn them the coveted media-bestowed title of "moderate." And they get invited to more cocktail parties inside the Beltway.

In truth, there is no such thing in politics as moderate, if that means favoring higher taxes and spending one day and being against it the next. "Moderates" are more accurately described by the term "confused."

Without excusing them one iota we should point out, however, that the Washington pols share the blame with their state and local counterparts.

Local politicians - even conservative ones, all too often - constantly pressure their representatives in Washington to bring home the bacon.

Obviously, the more money they can get elsewhere, the less they need to take from local taxpayers who can hold them accountable. It never, ever, occurs to them that while they are getting money from the folks in Oshkosh, the folks in Oshkosh are getting money from the local folks.

There is no free lunch at the Earmark Café.

With spending at record levels, imposing a crushing debt on future generations, it is past time to return to the actual meaning of centrist, and pray that those on the right side of the center prevail.

Lloyd Brown is a retired editorial page editor and occasional blogger.
It is disheartening to hear some Republicans calling for the party to be more "centrist." That would only be desirable if the meaning of the word had not been redefined by the Old Media.

Centrism, like most other political designations, really boils down to OPM (Other People's Money) and how to spend it without taking any blame.

If centrist really meant what the dictionary says it means, this is how it would work. Conservatives want less government spending. Liberals want more. The center would be the current level.

But, as the media defines it, current spending is one side of the spectrum and whatever liberals want to spend is the other end. To achieve "bipartisanship" and "consensus," conservatives must agree to spend at least half as much as liberals want. Less spending is not even in the equation.

When conservatives do the media's bidding, as many did from 2000-2008, it may earn them the coveted media-bestowed title of "moderate." And they get invited to more cocktail parties inside the Beltway.

In truth, there is no such thing in politics as moderate, if that means favoring higher taxes and spending one day and being against it the next. "Moderates" are more accurately described by the term "confused."

Without excusing them one iota we should point out, however, that the Washington pols share the blame with their state and local counterparts.

Local politicians - even conservative ones, all too often - constantly pressure their representatives in Washington to bring home the bacon.

Obviously, the more money they can get elsewhere, the less they need to take from local taxpayers who can hold them accountable. It never, ever, occurs to them that while they are getting money from the folks in Oshkosh, the folks in Oshkosh are getting money from the local folks.

There is no free lunch at the Earmark Café.

With spending at record levels, imposing a crushing debt on future generations, it is past time to return to the actual meaning of centrist, and pray that those on the right side of the center prevail.

Lloyd Brown is a retired editorial page editor and occasional blogger.