"I come to bury centrism, not to praise it. Discussions of the economy during the 2016 campaign will look very different from those of the past two elections, because centrism as an ideological force has collapsed.
An optical illusion has shielded centrism from critique. Centrists position themselves as anti-ideology, representing a responsible compromise between liberals and conservatives. The word conjures sobriety and restraint, caution and moderation—all of which sound compelling in uncertain economic times.
But institutionalized centrism is more than that: It's an elite group of thinkers and writers, popular in Washington, DC, and favorable to business leaders, who told a very specific story about what was happening during the Great Recession."
I bring this up, not just because I think there is a very good chance that it is true, but to point something out. This change in viewpoint is almost entirely due to the widely ridiculed Occupy movement, which switched the entire economic discussion in this country from budget deficits and the need to cut "entitlements," to the grotesquely unfair distribution of our national wealth.
Here is a left wing movement that could not win any major public victories before it was forcibly put down by violent police repression all around the country; but what it did do was more remarkable. It induced tens of millions of Americans to focus on what is really wrong with our economy. In the process, it sent Mitt Romney and his corporate billion-dollar campaign back to the minors, and started to break down the false narrative that the majority of Americans support the Republican ravaging of our way of life. That whole idea was ludicrous on its face, but until the summer of Occupy protests, there was nothing to counter its absurd claims. Well, that seems to be crumbling now.
And, along with the rediscovery of some sort of minimal honesty about the disaster the Republicans caused in Iraq, this is a good thing. Of course, there is every likelihood that all of this will be crushed out of existence by the corporate funded electoral stampede we are about to live through, but things never quite go back to the way they were before. A minor hope, perhaps, but a little hope, and that is always a good thing.