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Idealism Without Illusions




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"Americans who . . . are fed up with the Ann Coulter / Michael Moore school of debate and are looking for someone to articulate a commonsense, middle path . . . may have found their voice in John P. Avlon."
-- Kathleen Parker, Orlando Sentinel, April 20, 2005

John Avlon Archive:
Tracking the Vital Center

John Avlon’s book Independent Nation was published the same month as my book Radical Middle (February 2004), and when we met on the set of the Kojo Nnamdi Radio Show in Washington, DC on March 16, 2004, I knew that the “creative center” had found a young star in the making (John was all of 31 at that time, nearly twice my age).

My opinion of him only grew when we shared a panel with former independent Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and John was one of the two most compelling speakers at that panel.

Radical Middle Newsletter was therefore proud to carry some of John’s earliest national political columns, below – columns he had to stop writing once he became communications director for Rudolph Giuliani’s presidential campaign.  I am convinced that, if John had been named strategy director instead, we would have seen a different Giuliani on the campaign trail – and a different Republican presidential nominee in 2008,

John landed on his feet after that experience, first becoming a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute (the center-righ’s most interesting think tank), then becoming a columnist at the online Daily Beast (owned by the Newsweek Daily Beast Company), and then becoming editor-in-chief at the Beast.  By now you have probably seen him doing political analysis on CNN or making other television news-show appearances, many viewable on YouTube.

But more than a decade ago, you might have encountered him first here.


Would Barry Goldwater Be a Republican Today?
June 1, 2006
Increasing numbers of Republicans feel alienated by their party and miss the libertarian common sense the godfather of the modern conservative movement put forth.

“Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bartlet!”
May 15, 2006
NBC’s “The West Wing” provided a brilliant counter-example to those who claim the entertainment industry can’t contribute anything of civic value to our lives.

National Centrist Conference -- a John Avloon initiative
On May 6, 2006, at the Theodore Roosevelt birthplace in Manhattan,12 bloggers and activists from across the U.S. came together to pool their ideas and discuss building a creative-centrist political organization.  The idea for the conference came from policy analyst and Radical Middle Newsletter advisor John Avlon.  A report on the conference was posted HERE by participants Annie Gottlieb,

Our Islamic Soldiers: Healing Force in the War on Terror
May 1, 2006
Muslim U.S. soldiers, proud to be American and Muslim, are helping heal some of the existing divides. We should listen to them.

The Hunt for Heretics Is Underway!
April 15, 2006
The hunt for heretics in primary elections doesn't help either political party -- or the American people -- at a time that cries out for creative new thinking. But true believers in both parties are giving in to that temptation.

Israel’s Turn to the Center: Are the Republicans Listening?
April 1, 2006
When the Israelis elected the centrist Kadima Party last month, the conservative Likud Party was decimated. Republicans had better sit up and take notice.

Political Priority #1: Redistricting Reform
March 15, 2006
No single action would do more to heal the artificial polarization of American politics.

Centrist Political Blogs Are On the Rise
March 1, 2006

The rise of blogs expressing alienation from both major parties (as well as alienation from the far right and far left) is another indication of how the political landscape is shifting on the road to 2008.

Can Kinky Friedman Take Texas for the Radical Middle?
February 15, 2006
Can Kinky Friedman be elected the first independent governor of Texas since Sam Houston? If anyone can do it, the Kinkster can.

Will the Martin Luther King of the Middle East Please Stand Up?
February 1, 2006
Non-violent activists could help create an active alternative to terrorism on the Arab street.

Beyond “Anti-Abortion” and “Pro-Choice”
January 15, 2006
The Alito hearings reminded us once again that certain people on the left and right are longing for an ideological Armageddon. But even on the issue of abortion, coalition-building is possible.

George W. Is No TR
January 1, 2006
In this corner, George W. Bush / Karl Rove / Mark Hanna. In that corner, John McCain / Rudolph Giuliani / Theodore Roosevelt. The prize: The soul of the Republican Party . . . maybe more.

"Centrism places a premium on finding solutions and reaching a common ground beyond partisan politics" -- John Avlon, Independent Nation (2004)


America Needs an Ariel Sharon
December 15, 2005
Sharon recently quit his conservative Israeli political party to form a centrist party. Now -- at last -- he has the freedom to pursue the Israeli national interest without being held hostage by special interests.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Warrior, Philosopher . . . Leader?
December 1, 2005
Having won last month's election in a landslide, he has the freedom to be the kind of leader we need now.  But does he have the will?

How One Mayor Bridged the Racial Divide
November 15, 2005
The brightest spot in the November elections came from certain creative-centrist mayors, who managed to break down racial polarization.

Bono: The Very Model of a Modern Statesman
November 1, 2005
Elected leaders may be letting us down. But in the cross-pollination between politics and culture, new heroes are emerging who retain the ability to inspire across party lines.

The Rise of the Independent Black Voter
October 15, 2005
Black voters are de-aligning from the Democratic Party, especially young blacks. But where can they go?

George Washington Saw It Coming
October 1, 2005
A re-reading of Washington's farewell address reveals its startling relevance for our time.

From "September 11" to Katrina
September 15, 2005
The first was an act of war, the second was a natural disaster. But there were other major differences . . . unfortunately

Two Constitutional Conventions That Aimed to Change the World
September 1, 2005

Philadelphia (1787) showed that the creation of a constitution can be tortuous and its improvement can be never-ending. So let’s give Baghdad (2005) some rope.

Why Teaching "Intelligent Design" in Our High Schools Is Unwise
August 15, 2005

Opening ourselves up to a "he said, she said" version of scientific debate would put us on a path toward mutual incomprehension.

"[Radicals] often argue that the rise of Centrism means the death of dissent.  That's missing the point.  Centrism is dissent from the outdated political orthodoxies of the past" -- John Avlon, Independent Nation (2004)

On the Importance of Binding the Wounds
August 1, 2005
When Private First Class Stephen Tschiderer, a medic in Iraq, was shot by a sniper, he not only survived -- he bound the sniper's wounds.

Our Best Defense Against Domestic Terror
July 15, 2005
A "nightmare scenario" could happen here.  But it's less likely if we maintain our traditions of ethnic assimilation and upward mobility for all.

Mark Twain for President!
July 1, 2005

Twain's skepticism toward extremists and consistent demand for morality and fairness is just what the doctor ordered.

2008: The Year a Strong Centrist Independent Becomes President?
June 15, 2005
If Democrats and Republicans nominate polarizing liberal and conservative candidates in 2008, moderates and independents may demand an alternative.

Senate Bipartisan Coalition May Not Last
June 1, 2005

Centrists cannot prevail without more self-definition, organization, and discipline.

Ghost of Roy Jenkins Haunts Recent British Election
May 15, 2005
An early "radical middle" advocate begot Tony Blair and Charles Kennedy.

American People Tell Congress in Poll After Poll: Enough Is Enough!
May 1, 2005
The Republicans have blown it, and the Democrats are unappealing.

The Nonsense of Noncitizen Voting
April 15, 2005

Allowing noncitizens to vote (a big issue now in New York City) may sound benign.  But think it through.

Rumblings Beneath the Rigidly Polarized Stances of Both Major Parties
April 1, 2005
There are seeds beneath the snow.

"Centrist[s] are uniquely free to create new coalitions that bring overdue reforms into the mainstream, moving society forward instead of to the left or the right" -- John Avlon, Independent Nation (2004) 


Wake Up, You There in the Beltway -- Here Come the Independents
May 2004
A grassroots independent movement is growing in America.

"Decency is ultimately the most practical form of politics" -- John Avlon, Independent Nation (2004)


WHY "Radical Middle"?


50 Thinkers and Activists DESCRIBE the Radical Middle 

50 Best Radical Middle BOOKS of the '00s


100 Great Radical Centrist GROUPS and  Organizations

25 Great Radical Centrist BLOGS


Generational Equity and Communitarian platforms 1990s

First U.S. Green Party gatherings, 1987 - 1990

Green Party's "Ten Key Values" statement, 1984

New World Alliance, 1979 - 1983

PDF of  the Alliance's "Transformation Platform," 1981


What the Draft Resistance Movement Taught Me

What the Civil Rights Movement Taught Me


New Options Newsletter, 1984-1992 (includes back issue PDFs!)

New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society, 1976,  1978 (includes 1976 text PDF!)


50 Best "Third Way" Books of the 1990s

25 Best "Transformational" Books of the 1980s

25 Best "New Age Politics" Books of the 1970s


10 Best U.S. Political NOVELS

50 Current Political IDEOLOGIES

50 Current Political  MANIFESTOS