America’s Political Center – Part 2

Part 1 of this topic ends with a question: Just what are the moderates who are in America’s political center?

A correct description of America’s political moderates are in the writings of moderates Rick Bayan, Steven Merritt Seibert and Charles Wheelan.

In An Open Letter to Moderates, Bayan writes the following:

“Dear Moderates:

Extremists to the right of us, extremists to the left of us! Hold the center, friends! We’re all that stands between the angry, embattled white conservatives and the angry, militant multiculti leftists. They’re intent on obliterating each other, and they won’t make life especially agreeable for us, either.

Of course, we moderates have always been a buffer between the right and left. That’s our lot. But the extremist camps have been swelling with angry partisans while the sane center has been deteriorating like a middle-class retiree’s investment portfolio.

. . . Seduced by willfully slanted cable news, identity politics and online amen corners, Americans have spent the new millennium splitting into opposing and mutually hostile factions.

. . . What can we do as moderates to reverse this lamentable trend? First of all, we need to reclaim our turf and protect it from erosion. Too long have we been caricatured as timid, vanilla, noncommittal milquetoasts, incapable of taking a stand. Too long have we watched in silence as both the right and left generated the kind of moral heat that radicalizes and fanaticizes their followers. We need to generate moral heat ourselves – the right kind of moral heat – the kind that shuns hatred and appeals to our better angels.

. . . Classic moderates believe there are at least two legitimate sides to most issues. Unlike the partisans, we believe it’s both unwise and unfair to embrace one side before considering the other. We might eventually take sides, but we’ve done our homework. More often, we seek and find grounds for compromise.

. . . When we’re willing to look at both sides of an issue, we reject the rigidity of partisan thinking. With care and insight, we can hammer out nuanced solutions that might not satisfy either camp but won’t provoke bloodshed, either. That’s the essence of moderate politics, and it probably explains why we find it harder to attract warm bodies in a polarized climate. Polarized minds love absolute certainty, and we offer complexity. We don’t have an ideology; we simply have ideas.”

In their article Moderates and Centrists are Mad as Hell at Both Parties, Seibert and Wheelan give an additional description of moderates:

“In 1787, the 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin harbored many concerns about the proposed Constitution and had argued vigorously for provisions that did not make the final draft. Yet, in the final hours of debate at the Constitutional Convention, Franklin urged his colleagues “who may still have objections to it … to doubt a little of their own infallibility” and adopt an excellent, if imperfect, document.

Being moderate is a personality trait. It is how one understands the motivations of others and how one solves problems. A moderate is a realist, accepting how people are, not how we would like them to be. A moderate is open to listening to the truths of others.

Franklin’s display of moderation and profound humility persuaded others to compromise enough to create this country. Yet today, the very qualities that gave us such strength at our founding have been maligned by extreme positions, leading to political paralysis and a dismal failure to solve the pressing problems of our time.

The insidious allegation that has crept into America’s political ego is that moderates lack principles. They seek only to split the difference between the positions taken by their noble opponents and adopt mediocre solutions. That is both wrong and dangerous.

Moderates value humility over party, and even over ideology, because they seek first to solve problems. “The greatness of America,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, “lies in her ability to repair her faults.”

How do we address our long-term fiscal challenges, confront global terrorism, repair a tattered immigration system, reduce health care costs? We demand that our elected representatives act with the moderation befitting a diverse country of 330 million people. Moderation is no weakness; after all, the Constitution is a pretty darn good document.”

Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™
America’s Political Center – Part 1
  • jim_m

    What a load of self serving bullshit. If this BS were true David, Pope Francis would be racing to your front door begging you to allow him to make you a saint.

    The reality is that moderates lack any sort of conviction at all. The vast majority cannot articulate a coherent ideological platform at all Even the leftists can do that. Politicians who claim to be moderates from the right simply lack the spine to support the positions they maintain during campaign season. Moderates on the left are simply lying in order to gain office and never intend to take any position other than the most extreme left wing ones.

    A true moderate would hold both left and right wing views and these are not held out of some holy desire to “solve problems” they are actually held out of real honest to God conviction. Your claim that moderates are something better than anyone else is disgusting self praise an your transparent bullshit arrogance is an embarrassment to this blog.

    • MurraySuid

      Jim, you express your opinion with clarity and force. But have you studied the writings of many moderates? I’d like to see evidence that supports your contention that “The vast majority cannot articulate a coherent ideological platform at all.”

      I agree with you that a true moderate would likely hold some viewers favored on the left and other views favored on the right. Indeed, that is exactly what I see in people I know who claim to be moderates. None of them claim to be moderates simply to gain office.

      • jim_m

        In 2008 dems took control of Congress by offering up a raft of so-called moderates, who upon election voted in lock step with Nancy Pelosi and the ultra far left. These candidates, like Ossoff in Georgia, campaigned as moderates seeking bipartisanship and served as left wing troglodytes voting for everything that obama and Pelosi demanded and acted as pure leftist ideologues.

        The public is wise to this behavior and candidates like Ossoff are now losing because the voters know better.

        The majority of moderates (David being a good example) do have a hard time explaining themselves as David has a reputation here for being a closet lefty and spends 90% of his time ripping on the right and excusing the far left. The remainder of his time he spends patting himself on the back for being so moderate and even handed.

  • So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

  • Vagabond661

    There is a reason why they will lean left or lean right. It’s because they are exactly what they claim they are not.

    And that square in the graphics is mighty large. If there were that many of you, wouldn’t you have elected a moderate president by now? Instead of drawing 3% of the popular vote?

    • Indeed. Most “moderates” or “centrists” (outside of elected officials who are really establishmentarian more than anything else) are those who don’t want to justify their true stance on issues with their neighbors and co-workers.

  • Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue…

    • jim_m

      David only believes in a moderate amount of freedom.

  • Retired military

    As I said before a political moderate is someone who doesnt want to be thought of as a democrat and is scared shitless of having democrats say something bad about them.

  • yetanotherjohn

    Most, by no means all, conservatives I’ve met would be called moderates based on your definition of being able to look at both sides of an issue. They can articulate the lefts stand on just about any issue, but they have guiding principles that tend to put practical reality ahead of feel-good platitudes.
    I have met some true racist conservatives, but they are very rare (much less than 1%). Most conservatives I have met are against affirmative action, at least in this millennium. The left will label those conservatives as racist because they are against affirmative action. The conservatives can articulate the ideas behind supporting affirmative action and support the supposed goal of racial integration behind affirmative action. But those conservatives can also recognize the harm done, at least at this stage of our country’s history, by affirmative action and that current affirmative action is more about power, privilege and virtue signaling in the guise of correcting past abuses. I have never been able to get anyone from the left articulate when affirmative action should be ended in concrete terms. They can spout platitudes (e.g. when racial injustice is no more), but will tend to fall back on calling those who question affirmative action as racist as an end to the discussion.
    Equality of opportunity is an idea that conservatives can support. They recognize that it is a guiding principle that will never be fully realized, but that never ending government programs to put the thumb on the scale to try and achieve equality of opportunity is not the answer. But pursuing equality of opportunity is likely to increase prosperity in general.
    Equality of result is a wonderful sounding idea that will never be achieved and pursuing it is going to likely to lead to less prosperity for all.

  • Wild_Willie

    You can never enter into a negotiation from the position of the middle. If it were true, the compromise would be more of an agreement than anything else.
    When two parties sit at a table with strong positions, that is when leaders compromise.
    Our problem isn’t no moderates, it is opposing sides not sitting at the table to work out the differences. ww

  • TheyTukRJobz

    I think the issue is that many people realize there is no “middle point” that is between the beliefs of either the left or right regarding how to solve some of the issues facing us. In fact, on many issues there is no agreement on whether something is an issue or not or what the nature of that issue is.

    On some issues, we’ve already achieved the middle ground, but one side wants to push it more into their corner.

    On some issues, there really isn’t a middle; it can only really be one way or the other.

    As said before, often one starts out at an extreme to reach a negotiated compromise in the middle. A fairly silly example of this is when I’m buying a car, and the salesman asks how much I want to spend, I tell him “Nothing; I want you to give me a car. But, I’m willing to negotiate.” These negotiated middle compromises are things like budgets and taxes, which work, or ObamaCare (between the full socialized medicine Democrats and the ones who weren’t) which didn’t.
    The middle isn’t always the best solution, either. After all, moderation in the defense of liberty is not a virtue.