It wasn’t long ago at all that I asked myself a simple question. “When will the far-left start calling moderates ‘far-right?'”
It took less than a week to discover the answer.
This happened three times over the course of the next five days. I didn’t engage with the second. I engaged with the third. It was a post by an Antifa activist by the name of Ren. He/they has since protected the account, but the post was here for what it’s worth.
Seemingly, political polarization is nearing a tipping point.
All on Medicare held a poll asking followers to vote on where they felt Joe Biden fell on the left-right spectrum. The results were unsurprising.
Remember, Biden has called for;
- minimum wage increases,
- higher taxes on income,
- tuition-free public colleges and universities,
- keeping Obamacare, and
- infrastructure spending.
This was mirrored by another post I found. Posted by a self-proclaimed communist, he claimed that the median American liberal is center-right.
Others have noticed this.
In one post, Renaud Gagne said, ” So sick of this… Anyone right of center is far-right but anyone left of center is moderate.”
Imam Mahamad Tawhidi shared his words on Thursday, summing the perspective of the far-left.
The epidemic of the far-left calling those who disagree with them alt-right of far-right isn’t brand new.
Since the 2016 election, character assassinations and name-calling have been signature tactics of the far-left. The term “Nazi” was flung at the right so often, it led to the “Everyone I Don’t Like is Hitler” meme.
However, there is a difference between personal attacks in poor faith, and being an enemy of moderates.
I continued reading the discussion. Some believed that the right has moved further to the right over the years, while the left has stayed the same. This explanation of the partisan divide is totally false, however.
The Pew Research Center has been tracking ideological trends over two decades, in fact. Their findings are shown in the paper The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider. The goal is to show how far Americans are moving apart in politics. The results are grim.
In 1994, the median Republican and the median Democrat were very moderate. The majority of Americans found themselves in the center. The ideological distribution fell along a near-perfect bell curve, moreover.
Today, the distribution is remarkably polarized. The median line of Republicans has shifted a mere few points to the right. In contrast, Democrats veered sharply left.
Meanwhile, the graph depicting political polarization for those who are politically engaged is even more dramatic.
In 1994, each side had a fairly even distribution. True, Democrats had a much cleaner bell curve. Also, the medians group for each party are further apart than the general public. Nonetheless, they are still relatively close to center.
In 2017, the graph looks entirely different. While the median engaged-Republican has not shifted, the median active-Democrat is now found much further left.
Moreover, conservative and moderate democrats are an endangered species among the engaged groups. Polarization has taken its toll.
Caught in the Crossfire
Political polarization has stretched the ends of the American political spectrum apart. As the left and right battle, moderates and centrists are being caught in the middle.
Subsequently, many moderate Democrats have already taken part in the #WalkAway movement.
However, #WalkAway isn’t the only movement seeing moderates leave the left. In the wake of polarization and intersectionalism, conservative minorities have capitalized on the situation.
Candace Owens, a popular black conservative, used President Trump’s success as part of her platform. She cites the lowest unemployment rate for African-Americans ever and the passing of the First Step Act. After gaining national recognition, she promoted #BLEXIT (Black Exit), inviting African-Americans to join the Republican Party.
Anna Paulina, a Mexican-American woman from California, shared a similar message. In order to boost Hispanic and Latino support for President Trump and the Republican Party, she tours the United States, speaking publicly. In the wake of #BLEXIT, #LEXIT (Latino Exit) formed.
The Libertarian Party has also been making moves in recent years, too. Libertarians have seen a five-fold increase in memberships and donors, in fact. What’s more, the Libertarian Party earned 4.4million votes in the 2016 Presidential election. This was almost four times as much, from 2012, up from 1.2million.
A Future for Moderates
Centrists and moderates do have a future in this era of polarization.
Moderate Democrats could choose to identify as independents. They may affiliate with the Libertarian Party, though. Conservative Democrats will likely join Republicans.
Fortunately, there are homes to be found for moderates who feel as though they don’t have one now. One thing is certain; if the left continues to become more extreme, the center will have no choice but to move away from the Democratic Party.