The Center Cannot Hold

My Illusion of Neutrality

Tom Ross
3 min readNov 8, 2022

For years I’ve considered myself a Radical Centrist politically. The “radical” part means I have a willingness to call for fundamental reform of institutions. The centrist part means those reforms require realism and pragmatism, not just idealism and emotion. For me, it also means I can argue both sides of an issue with equal fervor which eventually nullifies both sides of an issue.

It’s been a comfortable, albeit aloof and somewhat arrogant place to sit out any issue.

Being a Radical Centrist makes me feel like I’m above all the weak-minded citizens who are easily drawn into the Divide and Conquer tactics.

Divide & Conquer Algorithms

Lately, I have been trying to engage politically as a Radical Centrist and making the case post after post that we are being driven into a Civil War by Corporate and Social Media algorithms that seek out our biases and corral us into social bubbles where they fill our newsfeeds with fear and rancor in order to make us engage more so they can increase their advertising rates and make more money.

To convince my fellow Americans NOT to fall for these Divide and Conquer Algorithms my latest catchphrase is “Choose a side and forfeit this game” and I’ve even tried to reason with MAGA folks but to no avail.

I try to use their Conspiracy Mindedness to point out a bigger and broader and more ancient Cabal that is pitting us against each other and now they have these algorithms doing the heavy lifting but even pointing out a common enemy falls on willfully deaf ears.

It’s like trying to reason with a video game avatar that is controlled by a recursive program that loops perpetually between Dunning and Kruger.

There’s no player controlling these Avatars.

My thoughts about these Algorithms have changed.

I no longer see them as a primary threat or a common enemy of our democracy. I see them now as a gift. Seriously.

These sophisticated algorithms have absolutely created more engagement and made a lot of money for Corporate and Social Media giants, but they’ve also sussed out 30 million Americans with deep biases driven by fear expressed as xenophobia, homophobia, racism and ignorance both real and willful.

These algorithms are like malware detectors that have not only found these glitchy citizens but have placed them in an easy to delete folder that, on screen looks like a super-spreader rally with a red hat icon.

The Ex-President is a brilliant Malware program. He not only pools all these corrupt files into one place but his vapid vacuum feature makes the rest of the democracy’s operating system stronger as it fortifies itself in his wake.

There’s no getting around what is likely to happen tomorrow unless I can figure out how to jump timelines. These glitchy avatars are determined to suck us all into the Ex-President’s vacuum and bring down the apocalypse of attention they crave.

Part of me desires this too.

I see humanity as a failed species and not the Divine creatures our anthropocentrism demands we are. The Earth never needed us and is done with us. She can shake us off like a mosquito and get back to her hammock among the stars.

There’s another part of me however that has children.

The part of me that cries when I think of suffering children and animals. And because I can feel this deep empathy, I know I’m not alone in that.

I want the Human Story to be a noble one. I want to vanquish the hate-filled and willfully immature members of my species that will not be redeemed, and I know now that they cannot be overcome with unconditional love or forgiveness.

I’m choosing the side I’ve always been on and saying so hours before the 2022 Midterm election that may well spark the second American Civil War. I’m no longer a Radical Centrist. My centrism cannot hold. My radicalism however, will.