By Jamelle Bouie
Feb. 7, 2019, 23
Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“There’s something odd about the self-described moderates and centrists considering a run for president. If “moderation” or “centrism” means holding broadly popular positions otherwise marginalized by extremists in either party, then these prospective candidates don’t quite fit the bill.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on the nation’s largest fortunes is very popular, according to recent polling by Morning Consult, with huge support from Democrats and considerable backing from Republicans. But Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who has flirted with running for president as a moderate Democrat, rejects the plan as an extreme policy that would put the United States on the path to economic ruin. “If you want to look at a system that’s noncapitalistic, just take a look at what was once, perhaps, the wealthiest country in the world, and today people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela,” he said during a January trip to New Hampshire. He is similarly dismissive of the idea of “Medicare for all,” warning that it would “bankrupt us for a very long time.”
Likewise, Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, has staked out ground as a moderate politician, even as he opposes similarly popular ideas. A substantial majority of the public favors proposals to greatly expand college access or make it free outright. In a January op-ed for The Washington Post, McAuliffe dismissed “universal free college” as a misuse of tax dollars. “Spending limited taxpayer money on a free college education for the children of rich parents badly misses the mark for most families.”
And let’s not forget Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive who might run for president as an independent, who characterizes himself as a “centrist” despite holding positions that have little traction among the public as a whole. “We have to go after entitlements,” he has said, referring to the unpopular idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare to shrink the federal deficit.”
Jamelle Bouie, excellent work. Challenging piece. I’m afraid you are probably right. David Leonhard’s telling recent piece, The Actual State of the Union Now, or whatever, has data to support this line of thinking. We are into a new Gilded Age. But more newsworthy, the earth is getting ruined by the pollution of 7.6 billion humans. What is missing from your writing, is an awareness of the Sixth Extinction, which is the really big story you keep missing and haven’t even acknowledged yet. It is so last century to focus exclusively on civil and human rights. With such narrowness, we might be doomed, if the experts are right who say we have only 12 years to turn around the direction we are headed with regards to climate change. The good news is that the earth is fine. It doesn’t care if we survive. Jamelle, I invite your to do a deep dive into the writings of two of my heros, Edward O Wilson, and Bill McKibbon. Also, take a look at the NYT magazine, stupidly undated. It has only one article, Losing Earth, Thirty Years ago, we could have saved the planet, by Nathaniel Rich. The copy I printed out from NYT.com has a date stamp of August 1, 2018.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.