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What is Centrism?

 

Centrism, of the kind that we espouse here at The Princeton Centrist, does not mean advocating for middle-of-the-road policies. It means presenting rigorous arguments in favor of one’s preferred policies while engaging with the other side and compellingly addressing the strongest of their objections. Confronting opposition is significantly more challenging than garnering plaudits from those that agree with you. We believe that it’s also significantly more important.

 

Positive change is only possible if a critical mass of people believe that it is necessary. Rarely can such a critical mass be mobilized from among extant "true believers." If it could, then the change would already have occurred. People must be convinced. Only through open-minded engagement and pragmatic persuasion can they be convinced. 

 

Unfortunately, the current political discourse is moving away from engagement and toward incitement, away from persuasion and toward provocation. It is rife with appeals to party or ideology, political hackery that abdicates the responsibility of presenting a compelling vision for the future, and thinly-veiled prejudice that replaces real thought. Public forums are narrowing, divided along partisan lines. Now, more than ever, good faith engagement and debate are in short supply. Now, more than ever, they are sorely needed.

 

At The Princeton Centrist, we aspire to generate the kind of intellectual confrontation and conflict that John Stuart Mill once hypothesized is the only means of realizing truth. Orthodoxy must be challenged. Ideas must rise or fall on their merits. We accept that most real-world issues are complex, and warrant expansive and thoughtful discussion. We welcome those from across the political spectrum who are ready to join us in that discussion, and ask only one thing in return: don’t preach to believers. Convince your rivals.

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