Trump Is a Magnet Next to Our Political Compass

Who is a moderate now? Who’s a centrist?

Until recently, the answer to such questions was primarily ideological. Centrists were middle-of-the roaders who rejected the purity of the ideological left and right. I will confess: I used to have considerable scorn for such people. They often acted as if being in the middle was a sign of intellectual superiority.

After all, on some issues the pure ideological position is often smarter than the split-the-difference compromise. If one side wants to build a bridge over a canyon and the other side doesn’t, the smartest course isn’t to build half a bridge that stops in thin air.

In recent years, though, the definition of centrism has been changing before our eyes as the culture has become more partisan. For instance, I haven’t changed my conservative views on most issues, but because I am a staunch critic of President Trump, many liberals now treat me as if I am a moderate or centrist. That makes sense if you think of Trump as a giant magnet next to our political compass. He serves as the true north for much of the right, which means much of the left reflexively marches south. That puts me somewhere like halfway between the two at east or west.

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