In 1992 I was not a seasoned independent grassroots organizer, but I knew a thing or two about knocking doors and building a movement. I was 20 years old and serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, coincidentally that is the 'Mormon' church to which Mitt Romney belongs, and no, I won't be voting for him, but that is another story*.
I recall just a few thoughts of my political thinking in 1992:
- I remember thinking (perhaps due to Perot raising it to the fore) that debt was an omnipresent issue that the two parties were powerless to overcome.
- Something, anything new (seeds of independence?), even Jesse Jackson might represent a "new face" approach that was needed. I wasn't an ardent supporter of that, just open to the idea. I was doing a lot of listening in the months and years running up to November 1992.
- I remember thinking how unconscionable it was that my missionary companion from Oregon was a supporter of that 'pot smoker' Bill Clinton. Boy have I done a lot of growing up since then!
Chapter 2--Populism versus Centrism
Centrism is a meaningless abstraction. Those are my words not Jackie's. My local political conditions will partially illustrate this.
Candidates in Utah are screened through a caucus / convention system and if they score high enough, a primary election is avoided. This arrangement has become a practice that can be manipulated and misused. There are voices within the parties and even more voices without calling for an end to the caucus / convention / closed primary system. Party leaders of at least the Democratic and Republican parties predictably support the current arrangement. If centrism is vaguely defined as somewhere between left and right, is it squeezed out when the parties are in unison as in this example? Is left / center / right even relevant to an electoral equity issue?
Chapter 2 chronicles not ideological positions as problematic, but ideology generally as problematic and this often includes 'centrism' as the obstructive ideology of 'centrists'. This is the stark contrast and the chapter's namesake of populism versus centrism.
Populism is power to the people through pro-democratic institutions without a bias or preference as to what the voice of the people might say. Centrism is an advocacy of ideological noise not (a) pro-left or (b) pro-right, but (c) for bipartisan centrist middle. It is ideologically oriented. Populism is institution oriented.
*A story that I'd be happy to tell those who are interested. Drop me a line--http://www.facebook.com/RandyNMiller