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Is there still a center that can hold our political spectrum together?

Does anyone care if such a boring old middle-ground-compromise-seeking center remains — or whether we have entered a new normal of all-out, partisan and ideological bloodsport?

Workers construct the viewing stands ahead of President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold,” William Butler Yeats wrote in perhaps his most famous poem, 1919’s “The Second Coming.”

Can the center hold in America? Is there a center that can be described or that has any chance of holding the old political spectrum together? And does anyone care if such a boring old middle-ground-compromise-seeking center exists and can hold the old political spectrum together or whether we have entered a new normal of all-out, partisan and ideological bloodsport in which, any time we have a partisan takeover, we expect to repeal everything done by the previous administration?

UC-Berkeley professor and lefty blogger Robert Reich, who served in the Bill Clinton Cabinet but supported Bernie Sanders last year, is criticizing Bill and Hillary Clinton for announcing that they will attend Donald Trump’s inauguration. Reich says their attendance heightens the risk of “normalizing” the Trump presidency …

 as if Trump were just another president and this were just another inauguration. He’s not. It’s not.

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I think all of us have a public responsibility to sound the alarm about what is about to occur. This includes former presidents and former presidential candidates. At the very least, on January 20, at 12 noon eastern time, all of us should refuse to witness Donald Trump’s oath of office — turn off all TV sets, avoid any streaming video — and instead observe a minute of silence out of concern for the future of American democracy.

I agree with Reich on many things, but not this. I’m sure the Clintons will have to swallow a lot of bile to go through the ceremonial role of attending Trump’s inauguration. My heart will be with the protesters descending on Washington to express their opposition to Trumpism (if such an incoherent mess can be called an “ism.”)

I also disagree with the Presidential Inauguration Committee/National Park Service decision to block the protesters from the National Mall on the day after the inauguration.

We are in a big, big mess. I have been arguing for years that our system of politics and governance is breaking down, but this is a quantum leap into the abyss. I see a lot of people trying to get ahead of the story, saying what’s going to happen next, but I am skeptical that anyone, including Trump, really has a clue and I would think members of the punditocracy would be tired of being wrong and admit that they can’t see the future.

 My daughter, who is one of the best people I know, will be with the protesters in Washington. I will be in the basement of my Mpls Manse, where the TV is. I will observe a moment (or several) of silence out of concern for the future of American democracy. But, sorry Prof. Reich, I will leave the TV on and hope against hope against hope that what we hear will be better than horrifying.