Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Beyond Carbon: Part 1: The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.

Episode 05 Show Notes
Beyond Carbon: Part 1: The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.
Featuring: Flannery Winchester: Citizens Climate Action Lobby


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What do Steven Chu, Bradley Whitford, George Schultz, James Baker, Don Cheadle, William Boicourt and Fortune Magazine have in common? Support for an idea for reducing CO2 output by more than even the Paris Accords goals in two decades that essentially holds most middle class, working class and poor families harmless (70% of the population)to slightly higher costs on carbon-based products.
Flannery Winchester - Citizens Climate Action Lobby, Communications Coordinator 

Forget the band-aids! The most comprehensive bi-partisan measure ever proposed in the United States Congress is also the one attracting broad bi-partisan support (it also takes a big step toward dealing with income/wealth disparity!). The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act (Very similar to the Baker Schultz Carbon Dividend plan first proposed by American statesman George Schultz and and James Baker) HR 763 is gathering steam and support from across the political spectrum. A fascinating market-based solution that even carbon-based energy companies are starting to get behind. Real change may be on the horizon. Bucky Fuller would have loved this one!

Beyond Carbon
Ep 05 Carbon Dividend Flannery Winchester CCL 2 by The Radical Centrist

The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act
HR 763

Welcome to Episode 5 of the Radical Centrist.
There are literally hundreds of major issues that our country and our world faces today.

Some of these problems are what I'd call process issues finding ways to make our democracy work for every citizen and the economy serve everyone and not just those at the top of the food chain.
change and income disparity are among those. we don't take dramatic action on Climate change in two decades we will reap the whirlwind, literally and figuratively. reverse the dramatic and growing income disparity among Americans our political system is going to continue to melt down. For 50 years the gap between the top 10% of citizens and the remaining 90%, comprising the middle class, working class and the poor has grown. More and more Americans have fallen through the cracks.

Today, for the first time in more than 100 years the middle class is shrinking, not
growing as it should be in a vibrant democracy. personally, is not the cause of this. He is the symptom. A symptom of the fear and anxiety that so many Americans feel today about their future.
elsewhere, they do of course, but as the old saying goes "Physician heal thyself" . . . We need to address our own income disparity issues and allow other countries to find their own way based on their own political and economic systems.

The longer we wait to take serious steps the more painful the process will be. But let's not
delude ourselves. The imperative to heal the planet is not really to protect mother earth - she will be just fine in the end. Until the day that our sun explodes and engulfs the planets within the solar system, Mother Earth will carry on. The only real question seems to be will she carry on with us or
without us?

Our imperative is to find a way that we can be resilient with her. To protect ourselves and every living species on the planet today - all of us endangered by the recklessness of one single species Homo Sapiens.
A Child's Dream Among Lupine

To protect ourselves and every living species on the planet today - all of us endangered by the recklessness of one single species Homo Sapiens. hundred thousand books, documentaries, films, blogs, speeches and conversations.

Humanity's recklessness is documented well in a hundred thousand books, documentaries, films, blogs, speeches and conversations.

But for every tale about our recklessness, beginning in the modern era with the work of Rachel Carson and others, who issued a clarion call to action, there is a story about extraordinary people who's love for the planet and our people are healing the planet. Led at first by individuals like Carl Sagan and his brilliant wife Ann Druyan, Winona LaDuke,  Buckminster Fuller, Jane Goodall,  Kurt Vonnegut, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Edward Abby, Dian Fossey, Paulo Soleri, Wangari Maathai, todays heroes have picked up the torch and moved forward at every level to play their part. 

No one person, no one act, will suffice. There is no magic bullet, no genie's lamp to halt the Climate Change that will make Mother Earth uninhabitable to her current tenants. There is only us.

As Bobby Kennedy said in his famed Ripple of Hope Speech:

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. 
Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Robert F. Kennedy 1966

In the end, there is only us. The random ripples that we make can create the current that brings real and lasting change. 

These ripples of change must come from every level: from individual acts of courage to collaborative efforts at the community, state and federal level. 

In this Episode we will begin what will be a multi episode series entitled "Beyond Carbon" starting with a look at what is surely the most sweeping and innovative approach to dealing with climate change ever to emerge from the United States Congress.

In the next "Beyond Carbon" Radical Centrist podcast we'll introduce you to Peter Adams and Sandra Jones whose local Energy Organization PAREI is creating its own ripples of hope and a lot of Buzz around the country. Stay tuned for that.

That was Flannery Winchester Communications Coordinator for Citizens Climate Action Lobby a non profit solely focused on addressing the issue of Climate Change and now leading the charge for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
So now . . . Beyond Carbon
The Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act
HR 763

For the first time since Climate change came onto the national and International agenda there is a bi-partisan proposal in the US Congress that will dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and actually meet the climate goals of the Paris accord using market forces and democratic oversight. It will also take a first major step toward addressing the massive income disparities that are destabilizing our democratic system of government.

In a happy coincidence, it may also be the first step in addressing the savage income disparity that has developed over the last half-century as well. Intrigued? Listen on. . .

I know, this is a big claim, particularly with the hundreds of small band-aids that have been put forth in Washington and state capitals around the nation in the hope of giving the appearance of moving toward a carbon free future.

The genesis of this idea came from two American statesmen, Former Secretary of State James Baker and Former Director of Office of Management and Budget and Secretary of Labor George Schultz.

This policy puts a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. It starts low, and grows over time. It will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies, industries, and consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options.

Dance of a Woodland Elder

So how does it work?

  1. Carbon Fee
    This policy puts a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. It starts low, and grows over time. It will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies, industries, and consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options.
  2. Carbon Dividend
    The money collected from the carbon fee is allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. Program costs are paid from the fees collected. The government does not keep any of the money from the carbon fee.
  3. Border Carbon Adjustment
    To protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs, imported goods will be assessed a border carbon adjustment, and goods exported from the United States will receive a refund under this policy.
  4. Regulatory Adjustment
    This policy preserves effective current regulations, like auto mileage standards, but pauses the EPA authority to regulate the CO2 and equivalent emissions covered by the fee, for the first 10 years after the policy is enacted. If emission targets are not being met after 10 years, Congress gives clear direction to the EPA to regulate those emissions to meet those targets. The pause does not impact EPA regulations related to water quality, air quality, health or other issues. This policy’s price on pollution will lower carbon emissions far more than existing and pending EPA regulations.


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Energy Innovation Act Q&A

Starting a Local Chapter
CCL chapters form the backbone of the CCL organization. People from all walks of life who understand the urgency of climate change have started local CCL chapters across the world. This training points to resources to help get a new chapter up and running.

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Mr. Lincoln's Legacy

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Episode 4: Putting Community Back in Community Economic Development

Glen Ohlund has been a Community Economic Development Practitioner for more than 25 years. During that time he has been involved with efforts to help build affordable housing, to establish community based agriculture, to assist the tenants of mobile home parks with the purchase of their parks to provide them with home ownership and stabilize their housing costs and to develop sustainable housing. His formula for success has been to respect people and to recognize that creating sustainable change requires listening to all of the voices within a community and to work to build solutions based on shared values and consensus.

Wayne D. King1

Glen Ohlund 

Glen Ohlund (above), Community Development Director of Rural Development Inc./Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Linked in Profile:

Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The Whisper of Wind Quote Poster

Dance of a Woodland Elder

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Episode 3 Steven L. Dawson - The Pinkerton Papers and the Changing World of Work

Steven L. Dawson
Episode 3 Steven L. Dawson - The Pinkerton Papers and the Changing World of Work

An interview with one of the nation's most respected thinkers about work, job quality and creation.

Steven L. Dawson has worked in the field of low‐income community and cooperative economic development for 45 years. He has helped create and lead a range of for‐profit and nonprofit social enterprises and written extensively on low‐wage workforce issues.

In that time he has become one of the nations most thoughtful and respected voices on workforce development.

He has been a Senior Fellow at the world renowned Aspen Institute; co-chaired the NYC Workforce Strategy Group’s “Re-envisioning the New York City Workforce System,” and was a member of Mayor de Blasio’s Jobs for New Yorkers Workforce Task Force. In 1978, he founded the Industrial Cooperative Association (now The ICA Group), which consults to worker- and community-owned enterprises. 

In 2013, Steven Dawson was inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame for his decades of leadership in developing low-income worker cooperatives.

Dawson was a key figure in laying the intellectual and structural groundwork of the worker cooperative movement. He helped found two nationally significant organizations: the ICA Group, the first professional consulting group for worker ownership, and Cooperative Home Care Associates, the largest worker co-op in the U.S. His work has changed the lives of thousands of workers and some of the foremost worker co-ops in the U.S. attribute their success to his influence. Dawson also understood that much of what affects the quality of work for direct care workers emanates from public policy and so helped start the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a national research, policy analysis, and technical assistance organization that works for the benefit of all direct care workers.

The Pinkerton Papers

Bad Jobs: "a bad job is not simply the absence of a good job. A bad job destabilizes the individual, her family and the community. . . . "In short, bad jobs are a core driver of inequality, and it is left to the rest of us to pick up the costs."

Making a bad job better can start with relatively simple investments:
> A redesign of scheduling procedures to provide greater consistency and predictability of hours.
> Access to financial literacy and financial planning assistance.
> Review and enforcement of strong safety standards.
> A company-sponsored emergency loan fund to cover a few hundred dollars in an employee’s unforeseen expenses.
> Employer-facilitated access to public benefits and tax credits—particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which can provide a working family more than $6,000 in federal cash benefits annually, and even more in those

“Success for low-income workers should be broadened to include helping families move from instability to stability.”

Show notes: As Dr. Zeynep Ton of MIT has underscored in her job-quality research the logic is that employees must be treated “not as expenses to be minimized, but assets to be leveraged.”

Show Notes: What are the implications for workforce practitioners? First, workforce developers must not sell themselves short in their transactions with employers: High-quality practitioners who can deliver carefully selected, well-trained applicants are of increasing value to employers, particularly within a tightening labor market. Second, workforce development organizations must expand their range of technical capacities in order to know how to help employers make bad jobs better. And third, workforce developers must join other organizations whose missions are aligned with strengthening low-income communities—from community development financiers to social entrepreneurs, and from labor organizers to “high road” employers.

Show notes: "More Jobs—but Wages Remain Stagnant...” Yet it is worth reading beneath that headline. Stagnant wages nationwide do not mean that the wages of low-income workers have remained stable. On the contrary, over the past five years the occupations that employ the largest numbers of low-income youth and adult workers have experienced higher than average real wage declines—from -5.0 percent for retail workers, to -6.6 percent for personal care workers, to -7.7 for food prep workers."

Instead, the true street-level narrative of low-income work for many in America is one of near-constant instability: part-time work; seasonal work; variable hours; unpredictable schedules; wage theft. A detailed study by the U.S. Financial Diaries of 235 low- and moderate-income households revealed that 77 percent stated “financial stability” was of greater importance than “moving up the income ladder.” And a 2015 Pew Charitable Trusts study of 7,000 U.S. households noted: “When asked whether they would prefer to have financial security or move up the income ladder, the vast majority of Americans (92 percent) chose security…”


1. Building a job-quality narrative: Craft a unified public narrative that insists on the necessity for decent, stable jobs—simultaneously benefitting the worker, the employer and all residents within a region’s economy. The province of defining job quality should not be ceded solely to employers, but should in addition be articulated by all those in the community who seek an equitable society and a robust economy.

2. Support a unified policy agenda: Advocate an interconnected set of public policies, including minimum wage levels, essential benefits, safe working conditions, and worker self-advocacy guarantees—along with aggressive enforcement of all labor laws protecting low-wage workers.

3. Negotiate quid pro quo investments: When offering public or philanthropic resources and investments in specific businesses, require in return job-quality benefits for frontline workers. Those public/philanthropic resources can include not only access to well-trained applicants, but also investment dollars from community development finance agencies, and expanded markets through public-agency purchasing agreements. In return, practitioners can leverage not only “The solution to bad jobs is not education— at least not education alone.” The Pinkerton Foundation 4 The Pinkerton Papers higher wages and benefits, but also other essential job-quality elements such as predictable scheduling, better supervision, safer workplaces and greater worker voice and participation.

4. Build business expertise: Offer to employers a sophisticated level of technical expertise to craft a combination of business and labor strategies that benefit both the employer and the frontline workers. As noted earlier, these strategies can range widely, from a simple emergency loan fund and employer-facilitated access to public benefits, to more extensive job redesign and self-managing work teams. Admittedly, this “business expertise from a labor perspective” is not easy to find, but to date has been drawn from such disparate sources as semi-retired social entrepreneurs, progressive management consultants, and former union staff with decades of experience in sector-specific training and labor-management partnerships.

5. Highlight exemplars: Identify and lift up both high-road employers and low-income workforce initiatives that offer concrete examples of how good jobs can be beneficial to all. A few nationally-known examples are listed at the end of this paper, but with a bit of asking around, many more exemplars can be found, even within the local community.

"Social enterprises: In a burst of entrepreneurial spirit, the workforce development field is showing new enthusiasm for an old idea: creating “social enterprises” to employ low income jobseekers. The theory is enormously appealing. We can create good jobs for constituents who have a hard time finding work elsewhere and the profits will help fund our nonprofit organization. The reality, however, is far more complicated. "

Show Notes:

"For 45 years I’ve worked to create better jobs for low-income workers. I have supported African-American enterprises in rural Virginia and North Carolina, worker buy-outs of threatened factories in New England, and large-scale service cooperatives in the inner cities of the South Bronx and Philadelphia. In those 45 years, I have never witnessed a labor market as tight as today’s:

> Hilton Head hotels in South Carolina are bussing workers with five-hour commutes to meet tourist industry demands.1

> In Wisconsin, one out of seven direct-care positions is vacant, forcing nursing homes to turn away elderly clients— and in several cases, to close completely.2

> Zimmer Biomet—a manufacturer in Indiana’s Kosciusko County where the unemployment rate is 2.0 percent—recently “invited” 30 workers from Puerto Rico to join their company.

> During President Trump’s “Made in America” week, his Mar-a-Lago Club requested U.S. Department of Labor approval to hire 70 foreign workers, claiming they could not find enough U.S.-based cooks, waiters and housekeepers.

> This spring, the Governor of Maine commuted the sentences of 17 prisoners, explicitly in response to the state’s labor vacancies. This isn’t just an opportunity for workforce developers, it is a call to action. The self-interests of low-income jobseekers and employers are now wholly aligned—a once-in-a-generation convergence. To take lasting advantage of that alignment, job quality, not just job placement, must become the primary goal of our workforce field.

Show Notes:

"Change the Public Narrative about Employer “Success.” Unfortunately, today’s image of a savvy employer remains a business person who pays his or her workers as little as possible. Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, that image is still embraced not only by the public, but by many employers as well. When labor was abundant, perhaps that image was justified. If your competitor down the street is paying $9.00 an hour for store clerks—scheduling those workers with “just-in-time” software, and failing to train them adequately—why should you do anything differently? That is, so long as neither of you is having trouble recruiting workers.

The calculation changes, or at least should change, when the labor market tightens and people are no longer lining up for your jobs. Workforce organizations must fundamentally reverse the prevailing public narrative about what makes a “smart” businessperson: Today’s successful entrepreneur is one who creates a market advantage by building a quality workforce. Today’s smart employer not only invests in his or her workforce, but then leverages that investment to maximize productivity, efficiency, and market share. It is the second half of that equation—knowing how to leverage investment in the frontline workforce—that is all too often forgotten. As Zeynep Ton of MIT has emphasized, compensating and supporting frontline workers well is essential, but insufficient. To leverage those investments, the wise employer must also redesign other core operations, from information systems to inventory control, and from cross-training to frontline decision-making. Only then will the costs of higher investments in job quality be justified by generating the efficiencies and opportunities necessary to secure higher productivity and profitability. Simply paying people more, but then failing to create “operational excellence,” is exactly what gives job-quality strategies the reputation for being softhearted, if not plain softheaded. Our workforce field must instead articulate and drive a hard-nosed, sophisticated public narrative that emphasizes both sides of the job-quality equation. Essential to that narrative will be profiling small- and medium-sized employers who are already implementing successful job-quality strategies. There are a number of examples—such as the 200-worker Universal Woods manufacturing company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky16—and we must position these pioneers to share their own stories directly with other employers.

The Pinkerton Papers: All Papers


A bad job is not simply the absence of a good job. A bad job destabilizes the individual, her family and the community. A bad job not only fails to pay enough for decent food and shelter for a worker’s family, it can risk her health, disrupt any chance for a predictable family life, undermine her dignity, and deny her voice within the workplace.

Read More →


“Employer engagement” is the current battle cry of funders and policymakers as they urge workforce practitioners to become ever more “market driven”— meeting the needs of employers and, in the process, providing lasting benefits to low-income jobseekers.


Workforce dollars are precious—particularly those targeting low-income jobseekers. The woman of color with a fifth-grade reading level; the returning veteran; the out-of-school youth with no employment experience; the immigrant laborer without papers; the court-involved; the individual recovering from addiction—their challenges differ, but each is seeking the stability and respect that steady employment can provide.


In a burst of entrepreneurial spirit, the workforce development field is showing new enthusiasm for an old idea: creating “social enterprises” to employ low income jobseekers.

Read More →


How do you train hundreds of unemployed women of color and provide them stable jobs? You build a company that embeds training and employment within a single, seamless strategy. For over 30 years in the Bronx, Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) has honed that strategy, producing off-the-charts results: Of 630 jobseekers enrolled annually, 94 percent graduate with a portable credential and 85 percent are employed as home health aides. Of those, 68 percent remain employed after one year.

For 45 years I’ve worked to create better jobs for low-income workers. I have supported African-American enterprises in rural Virginia and North Carolina, worker buy-outs of threatened factories in New England, and large-scale service cooperatives in the inner cities of the South Bronx and Philadelphia.

Read More →


Today, our workforce is engaged in a renewed examination of equity within our field. Philanthropy is hosting “equity in workforce” webinars, workforce organizations are arranging equity trainings for their staffs, and workforce conferences are mounting panels to reassess our field through an equity lens. Nearly without exception, this examination of equity is defined primarily in racial, and sometimes gender, terms. Which is, without argument, essential. But what is missing?


To reach and engage young people has long been the quest of youth justice interventions. We write this paper as strong advocates for credible messenger mentoring— an approach with great promise not only to disrupt the tragic spiral of incarceration and recidivism that traps so many young people but also to strengthen communities disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration.

Read More →


In 2012, ExpandED Schools and the Kelley Collaborative approached The Pinkerton Foundation for funding to launch a NYC STEM Education Network. Building on the work of a Noyce Foundation-supported group in New York City called the Science Alliance, the newly-established Network brought together STEM educators and leaders from a range of professional development organizations for after-school and summer STEM providers.
Read More →
Steven L. Dawson was founding president of PHI in the South Bronx, and currently consults nationally to foundations and workforce programs on job-quality issues. In March 2016, he was appointed Visiting Fellow at The Pinkerton Foundation.

Contact information: This opinion brief is the first in a series on job-quality issues for The Pinkerton Papers. For reactions, disagreements, questions and competing strategies, go to the Pinkerton Papers tab at, or directly to the author at:


The Pinkerton Foundation: Home

The Pinkerton Papers

Synopsis and links to individual Pinkerton Papers

The National Cooperative Hall of Fame

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ranked Choice Voting Rep Ellen Read Ep02

Show Notes
The Radical Centrist Episode 2
Ranked Choice Voting with Rep Ellen Read (D, Newmarket)


"A mind stretched by a new idea, does not return to its original dimension”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Swans on Scamman Pond
According to recent polling of Americans nearly ⅔ of Americans say our democracy is broken. Between the poisonous effects of special interest money, the deeply partisan divide, the purging of centrist voices in both parties, Negative campaigning, the tribalism and deep sense of antipathy and mistrust with which most Americans view their government.

Many people who have been engaged for years in public policy matters have stated that we have lost our ability to take on the big issues of the day because we have allowed Democracy to deteriorate and have disenfranchised citizens, sublimating our American voice, in the quest for power.
One symptom of the problems within our democracy are the number of elections won by candidates where they received 17, 20, 30% of the vote and won simply because the votes had been divided between multiple candidates - thus disenfranchising a majority of voters, leading to a deepening lack of confidence in our democratic system.

In this podcast I am pleased to speak with New Hampshire State Representative Ellen Read, sponsor of HB728 a bill to create a new system of electing our representatives and Senators: Ranked Choice Voting - sometimes referred to as “Instant Runoff Voting”.
I’ve let Representative Read fill in the details but in a nutshell Ranked Choice Voting allows the voter, in any state or federal election where there are more than 2 candidates on the ballot, to rank the candidates in order of preference and when the ballots are counted, If no candidate received an absolute majority the votes of candidates with the fewest votes are reallocated to the remaining candidates until someone achieves a majority.
A Child's Dream Among Lupine

Ellen Read is a Democratic member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, representing Rockingham 17. Read was first elected to the office on November 8, 2016 and re-elected again in the 2018 elections.

After you have listened to this podcast, if you believe that Ranked Choice Voting can help to stem the tide of bitter partisanship and negative campaigning in our country and give us election results that more closely reflect the majority of voters, I urge you to contact your state Reps and Senators to let them know your feelings and encourage your friends to do the same. Believe me when I say that the two major parties often do not know what is in their own best interests and in the end they have a whole lot less influence on your Representative and Senators than we do if we speak out and stand together. , but only if only we speak out.

You can find a link to a listing of all senators and state reps as well as other supporting material in the shownotes at

My thanks once again to Free Joseph whose upbeat reggae song “Tell Me Why” provides the perfect blend of rhythm and optimism for The Radical Centrist Podcast. You can find his music at Now take us out Free?


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Quick video description of Ranked Choice

HB 728

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Learning to Fish

Monday, January 7, 2019

Episode 1 The Radical Centrist

What is a Radical Centrist?

Show links and notes

Free Joseph "He is Here"


So here we are.

There’s an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. Of course most of us would not characterize these times as “interesting”. Horrifying, discouraging, frightening, maybe but interesting - no probably not. A hundred years from now, if America survives, and the planet survives, students of history may characterize these times as merely interesting.

For most Americans, watching the President and his cabinet and the executive team that he is overseeing is like watching a car crash in slow motion. We know that it’s coming. We just don’t know when the point of impact will be. More important, we don’t know whether it will be a fiery pileup or one car plowing into the Tree of Liberty and Decency; a tree that has been painfully and lovingly nurtured; nourished with the blood, sweat and tears of patriots, as it grew and expanded for more than 200 years.

The recent elections may have swung to the left but there was much more happening here than that. As Steve Schmidt, a former aid to John McCain has characterized the wave of voters as a “Coalition of the Decent” from all political parties, one of the most astute observations in recent memory.

This “coalition of the decent” is not the army of any political party, though polling shows them leaning heavily toward the Democrats at the moment. They want a return to a sense of normalcy and security; but don’t mistake this for the status quo ante. Big changes are coming and the question is whether those changes will be created from the center out or from the excesses of the pendulum’s swing.

There is a common misunderstanding about the political spectrum. Many envision it as a line extending from left to right with the two extremes far apart. However, most political scientists say that it is more accurately described as a circle where the extremes come together at the final point of the circle. In such a diagram, the extremes represent a more authoritarian view of the world from either the traditional “left” or “right”. In other words, everyone at the intersection of the left and the right wants to infringe on our liberties - just for different reasons. At the margins we face a choice between the morality police and the nanny state.

The good news is that the vast majority of us are not located on that small junction of the spectrum. They lead nuanced lives focused on family, work and community - in both its most narrow and its broadest sense. . . local community, the American community and the community of the planet. Furthermore, as frustrated as we may be with the actions of the President, positive change continues at the state, local and regional levels.

The bad news is that a growing number of our elected officials of both parties are congregated around that unnuanced point.

For the sake of discussion, let’s leave our current President out of this. He is, we hope, an aberration . . . A symptom of the frustration and marginalization of a significant number of our citizens amid the tumultuous changes taking place in our world. It is likely he will be gone after the 2020 Presidential election - perhaps even before it. He will certainly be irrelevant to the longer term national dialogue except as an example of what we don’t want. The misanthrope that proves the rule. But the challenges that brought him to the Presidency will remain unless we change the game.

If I’m right about this, and I believe I am, in 2020 the American people will be engaged in one of the most consequential elections in our history.

If the Democrats have lurched just as far to the other end of the spectrum, they will lose any purchase they have gained during the Trump years. If the Republicans have not regained their center it may not matter in the short-run but in the long-run it will all matter a great deal. We need a strong two party system. . . especially for what lies ahead.

The world is shifting beneath our feet. If the results of the 2016 and 2018 election have not been a forewarning, then take a look around.

The marginal costs of products move ever lower in response to enhanced productivity but who will buy the products when technology has replaced the human hands that once made them?

To whom will those products be delivered when the trucks delivering them are driverless or they are flown through the air by drones?

Where will we employ the taxi drivers, the line workers, the coal miners?
Don’t panic. There are answers to these questions . . . but they do not lie in the worn out dogmas of the past.

They will not be found in the “invisible hand” of the markets.
Nor are they the domain of the nanny state where everything is provided to everyone and the incentive for improving one’s lot is lost. These are challenges that call for leadership that is both bold and inclusive. Leadership at every level from our communities right on up to the Oval Office. Leaders who call all of us to the task of continuing the Great American Journey, not by shrinking from the challenges but by overcoming them.

It will come as no surprise from someone who proudly declares himself to be a radical centrist, that I am seeking common ground where it is possible and respect and civility where it is not. The problems we face are too great for us to devolve into a nation of whiners, mefers, and thumbsuckers.

Some will say that we need more government. Some will say we need less government. These dogmas are as outmoded as the great struggle that brought them into focus one hundred years ago.
The days of the simple Command Economy vs. Market Economy are drawing to a close.

The left vs. right debate no longer serves us well, if it ever did.
We are a nation in search of a new paradigm. A paradigm that remains true to the central ideas and ideals of the American vision of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. A nation with a place for everyone: Where the working class is not marginalized; where the wealthy are not villainized; where the poor have a real pathway out of poverty, where the middle class is expanding, not shrinking; where it matters not what your skin color is or who you choose to love or what you choose to call yourself; where the opportunity for a meaningful life is recast to reflect a new set of realities and participation in the ongoing Great American Journey is an imperative. The leadership we require will challenge the people to help define this new paradigm, crafted by evolution not revolution and built from the center out, not from the margins. That leadership will come from all of us.

So what is a Radical Centrist; and is Radical Centrism the basis of such a new paradigm?

So What is a Radical Centrist?

The term Radical Centrist arose in the waning days of the 20th Century. In fact, I recall using it myself when I was running for Governor of New Hampshire in 1994. I’m not sure where I had heard the term, but I knew that it applied so I adopted it. For me it meant that I was more interested in solutions than partisan bickering and was drawn to those solutions that involved rethinking approaches to public policy in big ways. I was not interested in just seeking compromise around the edges, I wanted to reform institutions fundamentally to enhance the democratic system and to empower individuals, communities and states. That’s where the use of the word “Radical” stems from. It’s not that I was, or wanted to be, a bomb thrower. What I wanted to do was to approach public policy in a more holistic manner, first asking if the current approaches and institutions were achieving what they were intended to achieve and then asking how we might work across political ideologies to rethink them in unique ways that were more empowering, more entrepreneurial, more in keeping with the American idea.

The idea of Radical Centrism has been fleshed out a bit more in the early years of the 21st Century, though it is still the domain of a few hardy pioneers. Because it is still in its infancy it is also populated by some folks who seem to have a very different view of what it means to be a Radical Centrist. The best way to sort them out is to look at or listen to what they have to say and to determine whether they have anything constructive to say or they are just using their platform for their snarky interpretations of current events.

When his future wife Jackie ask a young John F. Kennedy how he would describe himself politically he answered “an Idealist without illusion” This is evolving to be a central tenet of Radical Centrism, idealism without illusion that manifests itself in real solutions to real problems. Those solutions involve fundamental reform of institutions and efforts to bend the curve in ways that enhance those institutions that seem to be functioning reasonably well.

Radical Centrists seek ways to build solutions from the Center out, actively looking for ways to find common ground - through a marriage of idealism, realism and practicality. and between those who consider themselves conservatives and those who consider themselves progressive. Market solutions, vigorously supervised by democratic institutions, especially those that have a dynamic component allowing for institutions to continuously reinvent themselves to better serve their mission and the public are the preferred approach. Furthermore, Radical Centrists seek approaches that respect and empower individuals and eschew the temptation to make assumptions that villanise the wealthy, criminalize the poor or demonize the “other” among us, including those in the “other party”.

Radical Centrists see the middle class, in both the US and in other nations, as the glue that provides stability to democratic institutions. For that reason they tend toward globalism as a force for positive change but are equally aware that globalization must be tempered with political institutions that help define and enforce norms - as Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt described in their groundbreaking book “How Democracies Die” - Norms that are the soft guardrails of democracy*.

Only in doing this can we ensure the survival of both democracy and capitalism, by continuously reforming and reinventing them both -

As Bhu Srinivasan (Boo Srinivassen) said in his celebrated book Americana - recognizing Capitalism - not an ideology - but an operating system . . . in need of regular updating and improvement.

Only in this way can we assure that Capitalism 2.0 thrives, and once again begins raising the living standards of the United states after nearly 50 years of declining wealth and income among the lower 90% of Americans. Capitalism can be the tide that lifts all boats but to do that it must serve a higher purpose than the mere accumulation of wealth.

Radical Centrists draw their inspiration from a broad ranging group of thought leaders, beginning with the United States most famous pragmatists Benjamin Franklin and George Washington our only Independent President and a man who had little use for parties and factions. Franklin spent time with my father’s people, the Iroquois, learning about their democratic confederacy and, drawing on his inspirational visit, he became a driving force behind many of the compromises that enabled our founding fathers to find common ground during the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Washington, in what is arguably the most often quoted Farewell address in American history, warned of the dangers of factionalism and ideology. Others like Teddy Roosevelt; Jeremy Rifkin following in the footsteps of Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Margaret Chase Smith the fiercely independent Republican from Maine; and Earl Warren who deftly led the US Supreme Court and helped to engineer decisions like Brown v Board of Education, Baker Vs. Carr establishing the precedent of One-Man-One-Vote; and the Miranda decision protecting the rights of the accused, among many others.

Jon Stewart, though he might not embrace the label is perhaps the best example of a Radical Centrist today and the fact that so many people, especially young people, look to him as an honest broker of truth whose razor sharp sense of humor helps both to bridge the gap between ideologies and at the same time to brook no fools, is an icon of Radical Centrism. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is likewise an individual who seeks solutions where they are to be found without concern for the label attached.

Jon Avlon, Editor of the Daily Beast is among the journalists who can be identified as a radical centrist. His book on Washington’s Farewell Address is something of a treatise on Radical Centrism built around Washington’s Farewell address.

Radical Centrism is not a manifestation of the mushy middle, where we simply seek to split the difference. It is not even the more often stated goal of seeking common ground, though that can be useful, but too often even that just involves making concessions and accommodations that leave all sides feeling less than satisfied. Instead it involves creating new ground. . . building anew upon the rubble of what has failed us.

In the weeks and months to come I hope to bring you podcasts, interviews and writings that further expand this notion and provide concrete examples of radical centrist ideas being proposed by myself and others. I hope you will join us.

Thanks for joining me for the Radical Centrist Podcast. One way to do so is to become a patron of The Radical Centrist on Patreon. For as little as a $1.00 a month you can become a member and help me avoid the annoying need to solicit advertisers and waste part of the podcast with their drivel.

Notes & Links
Bhu Srinivasan Ted Talk
Capitalism isn't an ideology -- it's an operating system

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