Washington’s second inauguration

Distilling “Center-left” and “Center-right”

Dan Jones
5 min readJul 19, 2020


One of the most common criticisms leveled against the Unity2020 campaign concerns the requirement that the two candidates be drafted from the “center-left” and the “center-right”. To most people, the idea of a candidate from the center-left or center-right is uninspiring. Anyone who appreciates the dangers we face as a nation does not want a milquetoast version of the leader who is supposed to guide us through increasingly dark times. As the saying sometimes goes, “Why would I want Republican/Democrat-light when I can have the original?”

Looking at history, the people who have really changed the world for the better from Martin Luther to James Madison were not moderates at all, but radicals. Indeed, even Dr. Bret Weinstein describes himself as a “radical”, as do I.

To quote one of my flawed heroes (readers on the Left, please bear with me), “Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” That’s from Barry Goldwater, and I think that regardless of your opinion of the man, his sentiment in that particular statement is correct.

Deep thinkers or moderates?

I submit that when Dr. Weinstein proposed the Articles of Unity and used the words “center-left” and “center-right”, he didn’t actually mean “center” in the traditional sense, which most of us would take as a synonym (or perhaps a euphemism) for the word “moderate”. I believe what Dr. Weinstein actually meant is that Unity2020 intends to draft one candidate who is asymmetrically-right and one who is asymmetrically-left.

As you can probably tell, the terms “asymmetrically-right” and “asymmetrically-left” contain a few too many syllables to roll off the tongue the way “center-right” and “center-left” do. And it’s a fairly complex but important distinction that might escape some people at first.

People who are asymmetrically Left or Right hold a preponderance of viewpoints that we would typically associate with the Left or Right but who are also radically open minded and emotionally secure enough to hold a viewpoint that runs counter to the majority on their respective side. In other words, they are people who are willing to change their minds or at least be more flexible about an issue when presented with new information.

Recent moderates have not united the country

To illustrate why the words “moderate” or “center-left/right” don’t fully capture the quality we are looking for in Unity2020 candidates, let’s examine the two presidents preceding Trump. You could make a strong case that President Bush and President Obama were political moderates within their respective parties, but they were not asymmetrically right or left. And despite being “moderates”, they both left America more, not less divided.

Now imagine we developed two predictive algorithms called the Bush Algorithm and the Obama Algorithm. These algorithms would be taught Bush and Obama’s respective positions on a variety of issues prior to being made president, and know exactly where each lands on a Myers–Briggs test. I believe these algorithms would be remarkably, even disturbingly, accurate in their predictions of how the Bush and Obama administrations actually played out from the bills they signed to the types of Supreme Court justices they nominated.

You might respond by saying, “Predictability is a good thing. I want to be able to predict what my president is going to do in a given situation.” That may be true for something as straightforward as whether to have limits on abortion, but predictability is a dangerous quality when applied to highly complex, fluid situations that a president regularly encounters. What you really want is predictability of principles, not predictability of policy.

So, what we actually need in our Unity2020 candidates are two people who are asymmetrically-left and asymmetrically-right. Put another way, they should be two candidates who are incapable of being turned into predictive algorithms. But they should each represent at least some of the core principles of what it means to be from the Left or the Right.

Where we find ourselves and what’s at stake

Try to imagine that America is a vehicle being driven by two friends across the country in the middle of winter, trading off who’s behind the wheel every few hours. At some point along the road trip, the two friends begin having serious disagreements about the route to be taken.

As the arguing reaches a crescendo, night falls and the two friends find themselves lost down a desolate road with not much gas left in the tank. A storm is approaching, and it’s bitterly cold outside. The two friends are now in mortal danger, and the situation is getting more dire with each passing minute.

They have a choice. They can continue arguing about the route, blaming each other for missing this or that turn several miles back, or they can set that conversation aside and figure out how to survive by getting back to the main highway.

Unity2020 is about getting us back to the main highway. We may still have deep disagreements about where to go from there, but that conversation can wait until we’ve made it back to safety. Once we’re out of harm’s way, we might even see each other in a new light. The sense of relief we feel could enable us to express our opinions in a less grating way to one another. Perhaps we’ll rediscover what makes us such a great team, despite our many differences.

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” -Abraham Lincoln

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Dan Jones

Native Arizonan, small business owner, holder of opinions you’ll probably disagree with.