Friday, March 25, 2016

Stuck in the Middle with You

My latest for The American Prospect: the center can hold!

3 comments:

FrédéricLN said...

Can or can't it, that's a very old debate to which we sometimes took part together.

This is a beautiful and very sound column, congratulations! And I would rather approve your paragraphs in defense of Bill Clinton's presidency.

I feel so sorry when I hear or read BHL or Luc Ferry, people who really brought some light to human minds, now browsing and processing bullshit with the same assertiveness — or mimicking their assertiveness of younger times. And I feel hopeful when I hear or read Daniel Cohn-Bendit or yourself, people who kept the best of a long experience. In order to do that, one just can't be mentally hemiplegic.

Yet I would add I feel I belong to a different center. I've never been a far-right or far-left militant, I just couldn't believe what I considered as bullshit from both sides, so I went a bit old into politics — at 35 or 36, pushed by September-11. And then I discovered that the democratic center was my family. At this time, French UDF was tied with Clintonians' New Democrats into the World Democratic Alliance.

And so far, taking also into account the French political exchequer, I would also agree with your: "in a veto-ridden system motion is possible only in the middle."

The great but: for having been there since fifteen years now (not so long, but!), I could check that immobility is a hugely tempting option when you are in the middle. Because every general motion disaggregates the center. It can hold when troops don't move, in a static battle. Much more difficult to hold in rapidly changing configurations.

So I don't know where motion can actually come from. Maybe : the center + the bottom (gaullisme) ; or : the center + the top (perestroika). I still wonder whether Mrs Clinton can push the top in motion, or raise something from the bottom (if not against herself).

In 2006 or 2007, Mr Obama described his competitor as "the most disciplined person I know", I think he was absolutely right and I guess that's why he picked her as Secretary of State. But — what if you put a disciplined person at the "top of the pyramid"?

FrédéricLN said...

A second thought: I understand how "French" my comment above was. We do not presently have such a dilemma as the Democratic primary. I can only imagine how painful it can be to hear a serious and committed guy, with very good figures at national level, promote just the kind of ideas you may have fought for during decades — and to still feel that even his election might be less useful to the same cause, than his competitor's.

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