The Moderate Ideology
Dean Esmay has a great, well, rant about The Yellow Line’s “Moderates Under Attack” post and Joe Gandelman’s “Political Moderates: Clueless or Crucial” post. I wanted to respond on his comments section, but my account over there is still pending. So I thought I’d share these thoughts here:
“Moderate” is such a poor name for what I am, but there isn’t a word for my place on the political spectrum. Liberals disagree with me because I reject their core belief that the world is defined by a struggle between the oppressed (who, in the liberal world, need special protections no matter what) and the oppressors (which pretty much means anyone who isn’t oppressed). But conservatives disagree with me because I oppose the social-conservative agenda and because I think corporations shouldn’t receive special privileges or be free from regulation.
But I’m not moderate in a mushy, spineless way. In fact, I most often think I’m right and my opponents are wrong. And I think compromise is worthless unless it’s actually strong enough to solve the problem and not just give lip service to it. I AM moderate in rhetoric though. I agree with Dean that it is shameless to call the President a Nazi. Nothing positive comes from the demonizing of opponents. I prefer debate. Loud, forceful, even rude debate—as long as both sides are having to think and are making real arguments rather than just repeating talking points and believing their “side” is infallible.
I am a moderate because I have no other word. Centrist because my positions are split between the parties. And I criticize MoveOn and Move America Forward not because I think they don’t have the right to attack members of their own party but because I see both parties becoming rigid in their beliefs, closed off to new ideas. And groups like MoveOn and MAF are the enforcers of this rigidity. They have the right to do it. But it is bad for our system and I will fight them on it. They are heading us down a path where moderates (and I mean free thinkers, untied to the party line) will be forced to capitulate or will be unwelcome in either party.
I want politicians who show intellectual curiosity, whose strong ideals don’t compromise their ability to think clearly. I’d rather vote for someone I only agree with 60% of the time but who is willing to debate the other 40% than one I agree with 90% of the time but who could care less that others disagree on that 10%.
All is fair in love, war and politics. And if voters want parties of rigid conformity then that’s the way they can run the system. But I think it’s wrong. And I think it can change. And I think we can change it. I’m idealistic that way. And that’s really not very moderate, is it?