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Posted by on Dec 14, 2006 in At TMV | 19 comments

Moderates Mischaracterized

I tend to agree with Nancy Hanks’ analysis: “fussin and fightin” is not the problem with politics today.

Disagreement should always precede policy; it is in debate that we identify the poles, without which we could never find our way to the center.

The problem is not with argument, but with the refusal of the arguing parties to eventually stop, breathe, and start collaborating.

So I hope you come to this space and other spaces — virtual and physical — with all the passion and extremism you can muster; and that you leave with a sense of where we might go next; how we might move beyond disagreement to common ground.

If you do, you are a moderate … no matter what other label you might claim.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Upinsmoke

    I’ve been carefully watching our new “Moderates”

    From what I can see they are nothing more then Liberal’s who have spent a lot of hard work trying to redefine themselves with a new name that does not illicit negative connotations.

    Bill Clinton was a true Moderate. He was also a do nothing President…….which in my opinion is a GOOD THING.

    If this congress does nothing on a regular basis for the next 2 years then I might be persuaded that they are indeed Moderate.

    However mark my words you will see liberal agenda repackaged in new ways and attempted to be passed into law under the new moniker

    MODERATE. More lies.

  • C Stanley

    Healthy debate is one thing, but demonizing one’s opponent is another. Both sides have been guilty of this, IMO, and it is what has poisoned the environment. Consensus can’t be reached if one has already defined one’s opponent as having evil or immoral intentions. Instead of just debating policies on their relative merits, both sides in the political debate have sought to impune the motives of their opponents, and thus compromise has become impossible. Hopefully we’ve reached the zenith of the uberpartisanship.

  • Krous

    There are always TWO sides to every story thus making moderates forever in the minority or forever out of touch whichever you prefer.

  • GreenDreams

    When Bushco was flying high, it was all vitriol and hatred for any dissenting view. This was the President who put free speech behind a fence, out of view, and whose VP mandated that all his hotel rooms already be tuned to Fox, lest for the 5 seconds it would take to change the channel, he be exposed to a word from outside the echo chamber. Now they want ‘bipartisanship,’ which to them means not investigating, not resuscitating oversight, not allowing honest and open debate of the issues to arise again in the public square. Nothing doin. Thomas Jefferson said an informed citizenry is essential to our democracy, and like him, I won’t be lectured about “bickering” by this, the most secretive administration ever. Let’s blow the doors off that echo chamber and let in the light. There is so much damage to undo and so urgent a need for us to honestly examine the pressing issues of our nation. And to act. This is not a time to “do nothing.” We can’t afford that.

  • Steve K

    There are always TWO sides to every story thus making moderates forever in the minority or forever out of touch whichever you prefer.

    I think that the reason moderates APPEAR to be in the minority is that we don’t make as much noise or act as childish as those on either side of us.

    On the other hand, we APPEAR not to look as foolish, as often and we have freedom of movement within both the right and the left.

    Guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

  • Steve K

    I’ve been carefully watching our new “Moderates”…

    Upinsmoke so that’s where your story [money] goes?
    in your lungs and sometimes up your nose?*

    Pretty creative, a conservative using a Cheech and Chong screenname to blast both liberals and moderates.

    It’s been a while since I’ve had such a good laugh this early on a Thursday morning, Thanks.

    * Cheech &Chong’s Up In Smoke (1978)

  • Krous

    Steve K

    The last attempt at claiming to be the keepers of the “silent majority” lost the republicans an election.

    Again there are TWO sides to every story, without of which there would be no “moderates”.

    Moderates are simply the “vaguely necessary undecided”, but heck nobody is perfect.

  • Lynx

    Krous (and I swear I’m not picking on you personally ;-)) I’d actually say there are a lot more than two sides to every story. Sometimes, there are even more than two EXTREME sides to a story. I say this not to be an annoying nitpicker (though I’ll understand if you disagree on that point 🙂 ) but because I think one of the main reasons things have been getting so bad is because people are being sold on the idea that there are two ways to think, only two. You can go with one side or the other, but saying that you FIRMLY believe something different from those two points of view instantly makes you a waffler, a flip-flopper, or a traitor.

    Centrism is OK, but it doesn’t equal moderation. Moderation is defined IMHO by the willingness to give and take, to listen to the other side and, above all, to COMPROMIZE. You can have very clearly defined left or right positions on an issue but understand that without SOME dialog you’re not getting anything done. Most moderates aren’t ideologically “pure” conservatives or liberals, I think because having a mix of left and right ideas makes you see that both sides have something to contribute.

  • Paul in Austin

    To me moderates are necessary for progress. They are the folks least tied to a fixed positions who can maneuver between the poles to find consensus.
    They are more inclined to reach out to understand opposing views and look for reconciliiation.

    Being creative about methods is not the same as being unprincipled about values. We each get to constanting choose whether we aim to “right” or “effective.”

    My personal focus, and as a co-blogger on TMV, is to promote moderate candidates and policies.

  • Steve K

    Krous,

    Are you saying that Moderate Blogers are a “silent majority”? Doesn’t that strike you as an oxymoron?

    Moderates are simply the “vaguely necessary undecided”

    I consider myself a Moderate because I am able to be a social liberal, ficial conservative and strongly independent. Imagine, being able to openly look in more than one direction.

    Independent thinking on different topics instead of buying into the ‘hardline dogma’ of either the right or the left.

    Hardline ‘Conservatives’ and a ‘Liberals’ appear to be obsessed with a need to prove that they’re ALWAYS right and everyone else ALWAYS wrong… ABOUT EVERYTHING!

    Me, I’m obsessed, too, obsessed with golf… but, as they say, “To each their own.” And yes, you’re right, nobody is perfect.

  • Steve K

    ficial = fiscal

  • 1) I agree with Lynx. There are not two sides to every issue. There are a hundred sides to every issue. A lot follows from this.

    2) One recurring issue in these debates about moderation seems to be differences in whether politics is necessarily adversarial or if it can be collaborative and communicative. In the American legal system, the theory seems to be that truth is best found by having two sides take the most extreme positions possible (at least in public; in private negotiation, everything changes). Then some external party – a judge or jury – can decide the merits of each case. Many here – and I think this is a logical position – seem to think that government best functions in the same manner. You put two opposing forces in power, and then balance falls out. Others on this site explicitly want the balanced people in power from the start. Both concepts have their merit. The obvious problem with government as purely adversarial is: “who are the judge and jury?” In other words, who is the party that isn’t directly part of the battle who can assess merits? In theory, the process of voting should act as the independent judge…. (many more thoughts deleted).

  • Krous

    Steve K

    I don’t see it as “Hard line dogma”. I see it as two philosophical governing paths that are unfortunately in stark contrast and one must go. One is social Darwinism and the other is social equality. One simply serves the rich, the other spreads the wealth. One is simple luck egalitarian, the other is moral egalitarian, legal egalitarian, racial egalitarian, opportunity egalitarian, gender egalitarian, material egalitarian, and political egalitarian. (Wiki Egalitarian)

    I’m not exactly sure what “fiscal conservative” means, and apparently the conservatives don’t either. As for “social liberal”, I cannot imagine why a nation screaming “freedom” every ten seconds would want to restrict and oppress a segment of it’s people anyway. Makes no sense.

    As for your “always right” problem, well, nobody said democracy was easy.

  • Upinsmoke

    Actually I am a social conservative and a moderate democrat. I vote about 60/40 in favor of Democrats.

    However you have not seen me light into the republicans yet because so far my posts have been about democrats.

    My moniker reflects my belief that our government elected officials have betrayed us and care only about power and glory of their office and do not care one iota about passing legislation that is good for the country.

    The last 6 years the Republicans have been in charge of all 3 branches and could have passed a lot of things……NOTHING got done…….ITS by design. Our politicians could give a flying hoot about politics…..they only care about the power that comes with the job.

    Their new philosophy has been Divide and conquer. Polarize America………..DO NOTHING and blame the other side. November 8th, they all began campaigning for the next election.

  • Kim Ritter

    In a country that splits evenly between the two parties, flexibility is key. Our most successful presidents have been flexible when they needed to be, but held firm on certain key points. If both parties hold to a rigid ideology, we will only have gridlock and continued demonization of opponents. Moderates are the grease that makes the political machine work-because they can look at a problem from many angles, are willing to adapt policies when they aren’t working.

    We are seeing the disadvantage of highly ideological, inflexible, leadership right now. Problems that might have been fixed a few years ago in Iraq have mushroomed because our president listened to a small group of ideologues. Now that he’s listening to a larger more inclusive group, he’s almost out of options, and has become a frozen deer-in-the-headlights.

  • Krous

    Upinsmoke

    All well and good except that we have elected a new government now and we should give them the benefit of the doubt before condemnation.

    Although, if I’m reading between the lines right, you may need to seek another country for migration before you become too old to be accepted. It does not appear that this country is what you have in mind for a country at all.

  • Krous

    Kim Ritter 12.14.2006 7:07pm

    I disagree. When two completely opposite philosophical viewpoints are facing each other, only fierce opposition until one capitulates is the only answer. It is in these sorts of political compromise that you describe, that constituents get sold out and democracy fails.

    I believe the supposed “conservative movement� is morally bankrupt and weak. I believe that the vast majority of republican voters are mere mentally lost “precious moments moms and John Wayne wannabe dads� that buy into an America that never existed, and, never will. They do not want to hear truth. Rather they want to hear that cornball American myth their party spends much great wealth to sell them on.

    The fools desperately want that Norman Rockwell America, and so do I, but unless we start spreading the wealth in a much more equitable manor, the myth will never become reality. The rich shall remain locked in there homes, and, the gangs will look for opportunity to rob and kill them. The pursuit of happiness shall not be denied.

    No, political compromise among the radically diverse only promotes civil war in my opinion. Why? Because it solves nothing in full and we have reached the times when band-aid patches will not end our social ills. Nor will denying them. Bend a bow enough and that sucker is going to break.

  • Kim Ritter

    Ok Krous- lets look at the last 6 years. Conservatives had a lock on all three branches. Moderates within the GOP were treated like traitors. There was no compromise with the Democrats, even though Bush had won by a hair in 2000 and 2004. The 109th was labelled a “do-nothing congress” the worst in decades.
    But Conservatives only make up 1/3 of the voters- so Independents and moderates of both parties rebelled and voted Democratic in the last election. In other words, there was a backlash against uncompromising right wing extremism. If the Democrats rule the way the Republicans have- by shutting out all dissent, and pushing an extremely liberal agenda, we’ll have a backlash in the other direction, and Conservatives will again rule the day in the next couple of election cycles. Anytime you have a government that rules over a diverse population, it is necessary to compromise to get anything done. Some of our most productive eras have come when we had divided government.

  • Upinsmoke

    Krous when one disagrees with what is happening in ones own country that does not mean one should cut and run.

    If something doesnt go according to plan……CUT AND RUN? Give up, quit. Failure IS an option.

    Sorry I cannot nor would I ever accept your solution. Thanks for calling me a coward and unpatriotic. I thought only republicans did that to democrats.

    Sorry I was reading between your lines.

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