Centrism is the habit of seeking compromise between opposing positions. It is the expression of the centrist’s personality, not a political philosophy. (I speak from personal experience with a self-proclaimed centrist who is chameleon-like in his willingness to adapt to his political environment — integrity be damned.)
Centrism fails because it doesn’t offer a concrete position to which one might adhere. Centrism is nothing but a reluctance or refusal to choose between concrete positions. A centrist has no principles to offer, unless you think of indecision and conflict avoidance as principles. But they are in fact the personality traits that underlie centrism.
Conflict is unavoidable — at least when it comes to political conflict that involves the foundational principles of governance. There are only two foundational principles that are viable in the long run: conservatism of temperament and left-statism (see this). Conservatism of temperament underlies ideological conservatism, which propounds government that is limited to the defense of life, liberty, and property — where liberty is negative liberty, the right to be left alone.
Left-statism is also a matter of temperament. As I say here,
If there is a distinction between “liberalism”, “progressivism”, and left-statism, it is one of attitude rather than aims. Many a “liberal” and “progressive” wants things that require oppressive state control, but is loath to admit the truth that oppressive state control is required to have such things. These naifs want to believe the impossible: that the accomplishment of the “progressive” agenda is compatible with the preservation of liberty. The left-statist simply doesn’t care about liberty; the accomplishment of the left-statist agenda is the end that justifies any and all means. Those “liberals” and “progressives” who aren’t left-statists by attitude are merely useful idiots to hard-core, Lenin-like left-statists.
So in the battle between conservatism and left-statism, the centrist abets left-statism by encouraging compromises that allow it to creep into governance step by step. As the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All it takes to achieve left-statist aims is to keep moving toward them as centrists clear the way by giving in, a foot at a time.
Political centrists include any Republican who has or would collaborate with Democrats on any matter that led or will lead to the further empowerment and aggrandizement of the central government. Religious centrists include any Catholic cleric who would or does administer Holy Communion to a “pro-choice” politician. Judicial centrists include any justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who rescues a statist policy (e.g., John Roberts’s rescue of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate by calling a penalty a tax). I am sure that you can add to that list.
There is plenty of centrism around. But the only excusable centrism is the kind that is practiced out of politeness, to avoid pointless conflicts (e.g., Thanksgiving dinner arguments about politics and football). The rest of it is just weakness in the face of left-statism, weakness that is not and will not be rewarded by favors from left-statists when they prevail.
To quote Karl Popper:
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
The defense of toleration may well require something that centrists cannot contemplate: a violent showdown with leftists.
Roger L. Simon, “How ‘Woke’ May Be Leading Us to Civil War“, The Epoch Times, May 9, 2011
“Tyler Durden”, “The American Cyber Stasi Will Suppress All Digital Dissent in Biden’s Dystopia“, ZeroHedge, May 11, 2011