Political LabelsI think our politics are suffused with mostly meaningless labels. Not only are they not very descriptive, they are in flux. Labels like Progressive, Liberal, and Conservative not only drift their definitions, in these three labels (at least) they have come to mean quite the opposite over the last few decades. Ask me my politics and I might say, with all honesty, that I am a liberal, while liberals today would have been called collectivists (or socialists) only forty years ago. So, labels are a problem, which is where most of this "centrist" argument comes from. People think it is a nice way to describe themselves, while they fit quite nicely into one category or another, or they do not understand the underpinnings of their own political philosophy. One can easily start an argument with a person of the left merely by pointing out that Hitler and the Nazis were left wing. They do not want his company, even as they espouse much the same policy.
Then there is the matter of ideology, which is different from politics. Ideology in humans occupies the same brain structures as religion and the belief in God. The collectivist movement of the last half century has increased this tendency, in my view, as they have made the state more responsible for personal welfare. That results in irrational thought processes. For example, a person who believes that it is the duty of the state to provide minimum standards of living for everybody might tell everyone, even himself, that he is a centrist, or, my favorite bit of fraud, "socially liberal, fiscally conservative." My own wife self-describes that way. It is a lie, but we tend to forgive lies we tell to ourselves. You can not be fiscally conservative and espouse welfare or state sponsored health care. You are on very thin ice with social security, although there is a fiscally conservative way to change the social safety net. It is just that people do not want to seem mean or unsympathetic to the downtrodden. Not that one must be mean, but then he is not a fiscal conservative.