Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Centrist Manifesto” as Want to Read:
The Centrist Manifesto
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Centrist Manifesto

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  60 reviews
From debt ceiling standoffs to single-digit Congress approval ratings, America’s political system has never been more polarized—or paralyzed—than it is today. As best-selling author and public policy expert Charles Wheelan writes, now is the time for a pragmatic Centrist party that will identify and embrace the best Democratic and Republican ideals, moving us forward on th ...more
Paperback, 138 pages
Published April 19th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company (first published April 12th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Centrist Manifesto, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  366 ratings  ·  60 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Centrist Manifesto
Ben Mathew
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this excellent book, and find myself strangely optimistic about fixing politics in America. I've been telling everyone I know to read it.

Wheelan proposes a new party, the Centrist Party, which takes the best ideas of Democrats (social progressiveness, concern for the disadvantaged) and the best ideas of Republicans (fiscal conservatism, awareness of the limits of government intervention) and combines them with a willingess to compromise on values where reasonable people can diffe
Billie Pritchett
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: centrism
Charles Wheelan's Centrist Manifesto makes the case that the Democrat and Republican parties have some good core principles. For example, the Democrat Party supports the poor and underprivileged and knows that good government can make a good economy, and the Republican Party promotes limited government when individuals can take care of themselves and the importance of free markets. However, too often the people elected into office for these parties represent, quite literally, the extreme ends of ...more
Craig Werner
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I have deeply mixed feelings about this book, which sets out the argument for a third party in contemporary American politics in clear concise terms. The core of Wheelan's argument, motivated largely by his justifiable disgust over the ideologically-motivated gridlock paralyzing
Washington, is that most Americans are willing to compromise in order to accomplish public goods, even if that means setting some of their beliefs and preferences aside. He argues convincingly that the way to do this is
Jowanza Joseph
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I was a litte nervous reading a book with such an ambitious agenda but was pleasantly surprised with how responsible the author was. The book details our current divided political climate and talks about how the majority of the voting population is at the center of the political divide and what policies are sensible.

I enjoyed that the author was not an apologist on either side but truly understood the compromises it takes to do good politics. This book is a short read and I recommend it to anyon
Robert 'Rev. Bob'
I don't agree with every position in this Manifesto, and I doubt the "control the Senate" plan could work unless it reduced the Republican bloc to less than 40 senators. That said, I think it's generally a solid idea that's better than what we have now. I only wish My home state wasn't so overwhelmingly Republican Red, so a party this sensible could gain a foothold here.

The Centrists are kind of the pragmatic version of the Libertarian Party, in that they endorse several positions held by both p
Betsy Eaton
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This (very short and easy) book makes me interested in politics again. He suggests a third party;--the Centrist Party--which takes the best philosophies and policies from both the Republicans and Democrats to create a middle party that could change Washington's gridlock. I want to believe. ...more
Joseph Hoehne
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is great! I’m not big into politics and the only reason I started reading this book was because I’ve loved the other books by Charles Wheelan.

I love that the main premise behind these ideas is compromise - taking the best of each party and throwing out the stuff on the extremes. It’s cutting out the rhetoric and thinking about policies logically and sensibly.
Lee Richardson
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I signed up on the "Unite America" website after hearing about the campaign, and they sent this book over for free. The reason I signed up is because I saw a Gallup Poll that showed the majority of American's are independents, rather than either Democrats or Republicans. This poll was important because it confirmed a lot of what I suspected during the election: Most people aren't completely partisan or rigid, rather, the loudest people on either side simply get more attention that.

As far as man
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sane and sensible

I don't agree with everything said here. I think Wheelan oversimplifies some very serious problems. And I do wonder what impact Trump's election and what appears to be a new permanent state of chaos has or will do to the political center. But as someone who has long occupied a despised center right position, diminished by tea party Republicans as namby pamby and liberals as part of the problem, not the solution, I find a lot here to rally behind. I encourage anyone who occupies
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I recently heard about the Centrist Project on the Michael Smerconish radio program on SiriusXM POTUS channel. This has really resonated with me. I have been an independent since the parties have dug in years ago and seem not willing to compromise on anything but the most obvious matters affecting our country. I am also a self-described moderate in search of the few moderates from either party that will seek to govern from the center. I think I have found a new home.

The Centrist Project (or part
I'm sure that I'd be mocked mercilessly in some circles for having read this book and loved it. Fair enough.
Still, I'd recommend it to anyone who is open-minded enough to read it and think the author's arguments through seriously. I don't have enough background on some of the issues Wheelan touches on to know for sure if I agree with every point that he makes (although I do think I know enough to recognize that his arguments seem reasonable) but I identify pretty strongly with his core message
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read Naked Statistics for learning, which led to Naked Economics for fun (majored in Econ) which led to the Centrist Manifesto out of curiosity. I really and truly hope Wheelan succeeds at his plan to control the Senate through the Centrist 3rd party. Basically I vote like an economist votes, which is to say towards optimal economic and social outcomes. That is basically what this platform is and promotes and I think as long as it is taught in a way that the masses can understand then the part ...more
Jon Levinson
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whelan does a reasonable job of laying out the ideological strengths and weaknesses of both major American political parties, as well as the pitfalls of our electoral system that have led to our current paralyzing partisanship and increasing radicalization. However his writing is not particularly insightful or revelatory.

The "Manifesto" portion of the book in which Whelan calls for the creation of a linchpin centrist party borrowing from the best of both Republican and Democratic ideology is co
Christos Papadimitriou
A good introduction into thinking like a centrist, which is recognizing the best ideas of both the Left and the Right (eg. concern for the disadvantaged, free markets, using government to fix market failures), and using them as a basis for a party which could represent politically moderate citizens. More importantly, it highlights the importance of recognizing the benefits and trade-offs that come hand in hand with all policies, a crucial element missing in many policy debates, which may be why ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a short and sweet book about forming a moderate party.

While written in 2013 it's obviously incredibly relevant today and the examples given of two party extremism haven't aged particularly well given the recent political climate.

I was a bit disappointed on the chapter about abortion and how that is something people won't ever agree on in a two-party system and the solution is to then leave it alone and given the time this book was written intersectionality isn't something that was reall
James R. Hardin
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Strangely, not quite as engaging as "Naked Economics" by the same author (who'd have thought a book on economics could be engaging?), but very good. A clear, rational presentation of what centrists are really all about and a strategy, if maybe an optimistic one, to increase the influence of moderates in the US government.

Sadly, I found most of the links presented to be either broken or pointing at sites that appear to be neglected now. I guess moderation really is dying.
Andrew Bushard
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the book, because I love third parties and independents. The Centrist Party presents a strategy that can revolutionize America. I don't agree with everything in this book (for example, I love labor unions), but I appreciate the tone. I love how this book advances what some call "radical centrism" as this philosophy beats most. This call to arms offers a synthesis that can save our nation and take us to the next level. ...more
Shannon Callahan
While I agreed with the point of being pragmatic to the mission! However, I don’t 100% agreed with everything in the book. I wished the author would be more focused on hard questions, types of approach, and the meaning of policy victory. It would help to expand the understanding of what it is like to be a pragmatic leader. At the same time, how can we as readers put our biases aside and pursue the endgames? The book gave a lot of light touches. That’s why I gave it three stars...
I did not read this book myself, so it would be foolish to give it a star rating. However, a friend of mine wrote a quite thorough and humorous review which can be found on my blog--and which I feel deserves to be linked to as a 'review' on goodreads:
Trey Valkenaar
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Dr. Wheelan. I’m all in. Let’s take the guiding principles that have been lost by both the Republicans and the Democrats and leave the Extremists that have been pandered to for primaries in this landscape. Let’s grab hold of the swing in the Senate and build from there. We now have a path.
Sam McCarthy
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Imagine supporting "reasonable" and "fact-based" politics while simultaneously believing that there is a Constitutional right to bear arms or that guns are anything but a severe public health crisis... a collection of Blue Dog Democrat platitudes that is woefully out-of-date for only being six years old. Nevertheless there is something kind of admirable about this? ...more
Luke Gruber
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wheelan authored one of my favorite economic books I've ever read (Naked Economics). I love his writing style and his examples are intuitive and sensible.

I absolutely loved this book. This book is small and is a relief to the current landscape of political polarization and bombardment of extreme positions. It approaches political issues one way: pragmatically.
Cindy Wills
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book. If you’ve ever been frustrated by your limited options in politics, ever felt like you aren’t being represented well in Congress, or ever felt helpless to affect change - this is the book for you!
Tyler Fisher
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short and brief, a quick introduction to why we need to break the partisan duopoly in America and elect pragmatic centrists to office
Ankit Bhutani
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Charles Wheelan definitely makes a compelling case for a centrist political movement and the plan does sound feasible and practical.
Mary Beth
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mostly common sense view of American politics. A breath of fresh air!
John deVerteuil
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well said

Good outline for a political movement and I will be joining you soon. Thanks. I will pass this message on to others and keep the momentum forward.
its aight. a little extreme (ironically). i liked his ideas, caused me to think.
Virginia Cooper
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally, a voice of reason

If Charles Wheelan runs for the Senate in Maryland, I will vote for him. I have been wondering whatever happened to common sense and compromise for years and so has the author. Anyone who is disgusted with the status quo, who agrees with some moderate views of both parties, feels he/she is not really represented by the extremes of either party, should read this book. I have felt for years that we need a viable third party. If I weren't too old, I might consider running
Marie Flanigan
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you feel like our current two party system is too partisan and no longer getting reasonable legislation accomplished, then this book is for you. Charles Wheelan lays out a sensible plan for a third party that would hold the middle ground and bring reasoned governance back to the United States. This is not a plan for a fringe party, but a plan for a party for the way most Americans think and his primary focus is the senate, where gerrymandering and primaries have less influence because the ent ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
  • First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
  • Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel
  • Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump
  • Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
  • The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics
  • Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party
  • The Psychology of Money
  • The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?
  • Rage
  • The Infinite Game
  • On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope
  • Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me
  • Strike Me Down
  • The Smart One
  • Girls in White Dresses
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
  • The Hopefuls
See similar books…
Charles Wheelan is a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. He joined the Dartmouth faculty fulltime in June of 2012.

Wheelan’s most recent book, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, was released by W.W. Norton in January of 2013. Three weeks later, it reached the New York Times bestseller list for hardback nonfiction. The San Francisco Chr

News & Interviews

When it comes to the romance genre, second books can be a bit like second dates, can't they? You've had that great initial meet-cute with...
24 likes · 0 comments
“If sane, pragmatic, moderate people ignore politics because they are disgusted with the outcomes, then it merely leaves a vacuum to be filled by more extreme and dishonest elements. Unlike baseball, democracy is not a spectator sport. Things won’t correct themselves if you ignore them out of disgust. They will get worse. Look around.” 0 likes
“THE” 0 likes
More quotes…