A response to those who feel that "moderates" are politically weak...

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Do moderates lack "convictions?" (Or, everyone doesn't fit in a box...)

I opened The Reasonable Conversation blog early last May. I did so, in part, because I felt disenfranchised. There's very few talk shows or cable channels (other than CNN, I suppose) that don't adhere to a fairly hard-line ideology. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal favor the Right. MSNBC and Public Broadcasting/NPR favor the Left. Network newscasts lean left, but not as far as MSNBC does, in my opinion.

My politics are slightly left of center. I do not fit into a box labeled Conservative or Liberal. Looking at a bell curve, we see how the political spectrum, to me, is generally distributed:

Click here for graph, please...

What's not on the graph is where our Country currently stands. While this is open to much debate, I'd place the "mainstream" of America, just to the right of the mid-line. I say, currently, we lean to the right. There are many reasons for this, but that's fodder for a different post, not this one.

Now look at the graph once more. Where is the bulk of the population? On the far right? On the far left? No, its not. It's found within the middle of the curve. The range from the "moderate left" to the "moderate right" makes up for the majority of Americans. The average American isn't Glen Beck any more than they're Keith Olbermann. They're not Chuck Grassley anymore than they're Bernie Sanders.

Recently I've been accused of having no convictions by a few friends who are self described hard line Conservatives. The fault they have found with me is best described this way. "Moderate" or "Middle" means you don't really believe in one way or the other when it comes to the issues of the day. Its been inferred by a few that anyone who is "in the middle" lacks a certain courage of their convictions. You hear it in the media all the time. Pundits or talk shows hosts bashing persons on the opposite side of their ideology as evil, dangerous, corrupt. Moderates have little appeal. Current GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul said, "We've had way too much bipartisanship for about 60 years." Compromise is now, apparently, a dirty word, (...which will cost you your seat, Mr. Congressman if we catch you even thinking about it.)

Newsflash to anyone who subscribes purely to a political ideology, (right or left, it doesn't matter to me), I say you are the cop outs. You are the ones stalling real progress on our nation's problems. What you call a politically pure point of view is misguided and immature. To worship your favorite talking head or political figure is akin to worshiping a sports team or favorite athlete like we did when we were kids. "Its all good/its all bad" is not a refined, polished, rational perspective to hold. Its also a horrifically bad direction to try and pull/push the country.

The history of the United States shows us a gentle dance back and forth between the two main parties. Since the parties of today, the Democrats and Republicans, came into shape in the 1820's, we've seen 17 Democrats elected and 18 Republicans elected. While its never been so hip to demonize the other party, its still a crappy idea. Nothing gets done. The two parties get entrenched and the Public Good suffers. It may make for great television or good talk shows, but it doesn't do much to solve problems.

To my critics, who claim that not labeling myself this thing or that thing politically, leaves me everywhere but nowhere, let me spell it out for you. A few of my beliefs...

I am a blend of libertarian, liberal and conservative ideologies.

I think the government has no business legislating the personal ...

Continue reading here...

Bill in Dayton
Jul. 18, 2010 4:32 pm


A minor point -- I listen to NPR most mornings (and try to read between the lines) for a while, and I often seem to detect a subtle corporatist/Republican slant -- for example, count the number of Republican politicians given uncriticised air time versus that for Democratic politicians. Aso, how often do you hear any real questioning or criticism of our government's corporatist/militarist policies or of the corporate corruption and malfeasance visited upon the American public ?

Oct. 14, 2011 9:30 am

A mix of neoliberalism and neoconservatism isn't a sign of weakness so much as a sign of insanity. As is the case for 100% of one or the other.

Garrett78's picture
Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am

There are a number of problems with actual "moderation" when the choice is psychopathic v. co-dependent. What "middle ground" do you want to be found occupying?

The idea that we have two radical alternatives, Left and Right, with rational objectivity only possible where one listens to "both sides" and votes for "the best candidate" and compromises between the polarities, is a way to avoid analysis and express alienation. It does not tell me anything about what moderates believe in. The "mushy middle" is too often naive, a pastiche of flaws from both sides instead of where the best or true can be found. It is like journalists who believe they are doing the right thing when everyone says they suck. You need more than that.

There is nothing really Left on MSNBC or any public media today. Chris Hedges may be a very incisive critic of American Empire and culture, but he is not a "Leftist." Where do you place Ravi Batra whose analysis is inspired by thinking from Asia? For that matter, is David Korten on the Left or is his New Economy part of an entirely new metrics?

The myth of American Moderation covers the Coup of Commerce and then the turn to Military Empire. America's "democracy" was an early pioneer in the theory of people based power and authority. After the Civil War, a testimony to the danger of delaying the politically difficult itself, money flowed fast and furious in the development of the West and the industrialization of America. European money was speculating, and European labor was escaping to the New World from the crises of the Industrial Revolution. Periodic panics marked "the economy," and corruption was rampant in DC and other halls of government around the states.

The Progressive response to the Robber Barons fought hard and won, for a time. The New Deal was the product of both Progressive work and European union labor traditions coming to America. It also marked the high water mark for an American Left. The counter-revolution has wiped out that tradition and left us with MSNBC as the alternative to the John Birch Society/PNAC radicalism. If you want "both sides," you have to go much farther Left.

In short, we on the recognized American Left are the moderates. We are the fact-based, reality-respecting people who can learn from our mistakes. We confront ideological rigidity and political posturing from people who make no sense. We see the wreckage of their policies and they call for more of the same. They refuse to support moderate positions they have supported in the past when we put aside our better ideas and offer them a chance to cooperate.

What middle ground are you standing on?

I take most claims of being a "moderate" or an "open-minded conservative" who listens to both sides, yadda yadda, as being turned off to politics. There are great reasons not to like what one finds in politics, and if you want to believe in Americaland, you will not want to know the truth of our history or the way things are working today. If you have to know more than you want to, you will blame both parties and be disgusted with the whole thing. But you will not have an answer other than wishing people were good.

Being a Libertarian about personal conduct is fine. It does not work in public policy where owning the Commons is how we govern ourselves instead of renting ourselves out to masters. It does not work in economics where the health of the system matters. If you want to be a fiscal conservative, you have to go to the Progressive Greens to find it. If you want to be a democrat, you have to be for democracy instead of getting rid of government. And you have to control Commerce, not own it.

The specter of Socialism needs to be exposed so we can get out of our Rightwing American Box. The role of the State has to be to insure that Commerce serves the interests of the people. Having Commerce Uber Alles makes the State secondary to its master. When Commerce becomes Master, it no longer cares about boring business, it wants to cash in the cash. Where is the middle ground?

I guess it is with the 99 v. 1 in Occupy Wall St., etc. Rather than being self-identified "moderates" or "independents," I think these are the "left out" for whom America is not working. That could be the "middle ground" you ought to find.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

NPR has become corporatized as have the Democratic Party. The internet is really your best bet to bypass the corporate bias altogether.

That said, I'm with Bill on the "moderate" thing. I don't have much patience for extremes that have no chance of reaching a general consensus of common good. Sometimes extremes can be useful in pulling a discussion back towards the common good (i.e. fat part of the bell curve), but when the end game is to pull it back from the fat part of the curve to either extreme, it is wasted ideological energy.

My opinion is that our country has moved too far to "the right" as illustrated by record successes by the corporations and banks while the vast majority of us are treading water or sinking. However, the Democrats are not without sin. They have done some heavy lifting for what I refer to as "the right". We need to pull things back to a sensible place where we all can coexist reasonably and comfortably. Either extreme tends to want to extract their pound of flesh out of the opposite extreme, but that "radical middle" as Thom calls it, is where we should strive to be.

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Who is the "we" in the "we all can coexist?" Americans? All humans? All species?

Some are demanding specifics from the Occupy WS folks. Here's mine: We - as a species - need to drastically alter the way in which we live, the way in which we interact with one another and the natural world. And we need to do so immediately. We're talking about our survival here, not some extreme idealistic vision. Our bleepin' survival.

Garrett78's picture
Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am

Americans is who I refer to Garrett. "We" (Americans) have enough on our plate. Clearly, we (the species) is far more complicated, but if we (Americans) can get our shit together, maybe that species thing will be next on the list. Baby steps.

Laborisgood's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The March of the Authoritarians, from a Goldwater Republican can also give a fairer weighting to the left/right scale.Adjusted for inflation puts the current right crowd around the john birchers, the left crowd is around Nelson Rockefeller.

Bill, I don't know your age, or if you grew up in the Gem City, It used to be the liberal part of the southern Buckeye pair of Cincinnati and Dayton. I worked at Fridgidair (sic) at one time. I also played with Bart Simpson as a kid.[Nancy Cartwright doesn't remember, nor do I, but both our moms were CCL members, and the kids were always part of the meetings, and we're the same age]. If Antioch is still open, it would be interesting see their place on the scale.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The problem is that conservatives vote Republican, liberals vote Democrat. Both parties are controlled by the Globalists and anyone who is left in America capeable of thinking for themselves divvy their votes between Nader, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Green Party, and the Socialist Party, etc.

At times it is like democracy among the retarded.

elgiabo's picture
Oct. 8, 2011 1:29 pm

elgiabo wrote: The problem is that conservatives vote Republican, liberals vote Democrat

poly replies: You do realize that the liberal of today would be considered a moderate conservative during the Eisenhower years, don't you?

Dem Presidential Candidate McGovern proposed a guaranteed annual income.. That's not only off the table for most liberals today, , there isn't even a table left to place the idea upon..

Voting for a conservative or voting for a conservative really isn't much of a choice...for a liberal from way, way back.

Welcoming a return to the Republican Admin. of Pres. Eisenhower is considered an honorable liberal goal. Liberals of that era would vomit at the notion. They fought his conservative agenda tooth and nail.

Most liberals, just like FDR,, are quite dead. The neo-liberal twit Obama is the current standard- bearer.. "Banksters and transnationals over all", seems to be his motto. We're fortunate his new Jobs Bill only includes three new outsourcing agreements...and a loss of only another 300,000 jobs..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease",.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I am not a native Ohian...

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, we moved to Ohio about 21 years ago due to a job transfer.

Bill in Dayton
Jul. 18, 2010 4:32 pm

We saw in the health care reform debate that what the vast majority of Americans wanted was to the left of the allowed range of debate in DC.

We are likewise seeing the same with talk of cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits.

The Republicans have been running further right for decades and the Democrats have stayed just far enough behind them to creae the appearance of a distance.

Essentially, we have a choice of two corporate parties, one with religious nuts and one without.

Professor Smartass's picture
Professor Smartass
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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