I’ve written about centrism before, here, here, here and here.
There are two kinds of centrism:
Lagging centrism is a political position comparable to a lagging indicator in economics. This position is characterized by going with the direction of the political winds of the day but lagging behind as if hedging one’s bets or being somewhat cautious. It is a position in the middle of the range of acceptable opinions, which changes as that range changes. Lagging centrists are called moderates in the U.S.
Dialectical centrism is a political position comparable to a contrarian investment strategy. This position is characterized by a dialectical strategy of supporting the opposite of the dominant extreme in order to restore balance to the body politic. It might also be called contrarian centrism, though is it not always contrarian. If the dominant position has been dominant for a long time but the opposite position is growing in influence, then the dialectical centrist will support the opposite position until balance is restored.
For example, in the common political tug-of-war between increasing liberty and decreasing inequality, if the politics of the day is tending toward increased liberty, the lagging centrist will tend in that direction but less than the leading edge. Whereas the dialectical centrist will tend against increased liberty if that has been the dominant side for some time. Yet if the dominant side has been the opposite, decreasing inequality, but increased liberty is growing in influence, then the dialectical centrist will support the latter until balance is restored.