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The Whole Story

My life as a moderate.

The New Moderate is my brainchild — so you can blame me for whatever shortcomings you find here. I’m Rick Bayan — author, humorist, baby boomer, former advertising copywriter and embattled moderate thinker. My centrist roots extend back to the Vietnam era. As an independent-minded college student, I remember grumbling about being caught in the continual crossfire between insolent Marxist war protesters and hawkish conservatives. To which a friend replied, “Rick, you wouldn’t have it any other way.” She was right. Maybe I enjoy the crossfire.

Up from cynicism.

As the author of The Cynic’s Dictionary, and later as webmaster of The Cynic’s Sanctuary, I thought I had found my calling. I wasn’t the archetypal sneering cynic so much as a disgruntled idealist who cynic's dictionarylamented the loss of noble and kindly virtues in contemporary society. Cynicism seemed like the ideal form of protest: a jocular refusal to go along. But after ten years as a professional cynic, I longed for something more sustaining. All that chronic negativity was beginning to weigh on me. I concluded that cynicism is a necessary station-stop along the road to enlightenment, but that it’s not the destination.

The rift between the red and the blue.

Meanwhile, we had entered a new millennium and a brutal new era. In the U.S., the renegade administration of Bush II had polarized the population to an extent not seen since the Vietnam War. This time we weren’t simply arguing about a war but about a way of life: religious, socially traditional, Middle American conservatives on one side… secular, socially permissive, coastal urban liberals 1b-006-ss-04-tmcphe_lgon the other. We began to speak of “red” (conservative Republican) and “blue” (liberal Democrat) America. There was no reconciling the two factions, and their rhetoric grew ever more abusive. A cultural civil war seemed to be looming. Saner parties needed to take action.

Desperately needed: opinionated, outspoken moderates.

Where were the moderates in this dismal age of discord? Who was speaking for them? I thought it was time for the center to make itself heard. Back in 2002, I had written an autobiographical essay entitled “A Raving Moderate” for The Cynic’s Sanctuary. It seemed like the ideal springboard for a new website: an outlet for outspoken, unconventional, impassioned ideas that would, once and for all, quash the notion that moderates were wishy-washy, noncommittal nonthinkers, too timid to take a stand. We would show the world that moderates offer the best and most inspired solutions to our problems.

We’re beyond the blogosphere.

The New Moderate isn’t  exactly a blog, though I’ll be writing periodic commentaries. I’m not a reporter or a politician or even a political strategist. (We could use a few of those in our movement.) Instead, I prefer to think of myself as an essayist-provocateur. I see my role in our “Revolution of the Middle” as closer to that of Patrick Henry or Tom Paine than George Washington. I don’t have the political instincts and fortitude to lead us to victory, but I can jump-start our thinking.

What you’ll find here is bold and (I hope) stimulating commentary on the big picture: the critical (and often unspoken) issues behind the daily stories. Race. Abortion. Religion. Feminism. Corporations. Bilingualism. War. Pop culture.

My academic background is in history, so my inclination is to take the long view. I’m thoroughly indifferent to political correctness, though I don’t go out of my way to be offensive. I just have a perverse need to write the truth. I try to be serious without being solemn.

Not for Americans only.

I live in the U.S., and we’re an insular republic. The New Moderate focuses on hot-button issues of interest to Americans, but I’d like to think there’s something here for everyone. My commentaries grapple with global warming, the future of Europe, the clash between Islam and the West, the rise of Asia, and timeless issues ranging from God to gays. Students of American politics, culture and society will, of course, find a treasure trove of material here.

Don’t let me do all the thinking.

I’ll be running this site and writing occasional pieces for it. But it’s not all up to me. I invite you to contribute to our discussions and make your voice heard — even if you’re not a moderate. (I respect open-minded liberals and conservatives who honestly live their philosophies.) I’d like to hear your feedback, too. From this little seed we can grow a moderate movement with the power to change society for the better. We just need to nurture it. Will you help?

Rick Bayan, Founder & Editor

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Pat Riot permalink
    August 14, 2011 1:41 pm

    Thank you, Mr. Bayan! I just discovered your site today! I find your posts to be: rationality peppered with wit for a Good Purpose, and in well-written English, on a site that works and looks good…You’ve restored some hope over here in Eastern Pennsylvania. Thanks for your time and skill in setting up a quality headquarters. I’ve subscribed.

  2. August 18, 2011 10:39 pm

    Thanks, Pat Riot. So you’re an Eastern Pennsylvanian yourself? Well, that makes at least two moderates in our region. (I’m one of the few non-libs in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, though I’m beginning to understand their resentment of “the ruling class.) Hope you’ll stick around… the next year promises to be the political adventure of a lifetime!

  3. September 28, 2011 5:14 pm

    Just discovered your blog. Please get in touch via e-mail. Too much to say for this format. But want to tell you that RadicalCentrism.org has been alive and well since 2004, now at 30 members. A mix of people who also are fed up with the political system. While each of us have our own views of various issues, we are political Independents. We are also developing a cohernent Radical Centrist philosophy. Discussion format site that you may find worth your time. Some members have their own blogs. One of the newest also uses the “radical moderate” theme. For further information see : radicalcentrism@googlegroups.com

  4. Dan Brown permalink
    July 8, 2012 2:27 pm

    I write this to those who are concerned, as I am, about the upcoming elections and the deplorable state of political debate in our country. I write this to those who are, as I am, disillusioned centrist members of the Republican Party I write to those who are political independents weighing whom to vote for. I write to centrist members of the Democratic Party.

    I believe our nation achieved greatness because at critical points we had statesmen at the helm in the Congress, in the Presidency, and in the counterpart branches of government in the states. We can solve our most pressing problems, we can preserve this nation’s greatness, only if we elect statesmen now: those willing to be thoughtful and to compromise for the common good, not ideologues and party hacks,

    I ask you each to do the following: (1) Think about the less-than-honest claims being made in this election campaign. (2) Weigh and cast your votes for those that will mean the most for the “common welfare” our forefathers urged us all to keep in mind. (3) Vote for the candidates who have expressed a willingness to come together in compromise for our common good. (4) After doing so, don’t simply walk away and await the next election cycle. Instead, write to each election victor. Tell them you will be watching closely to see if they fulfill their commitment to compromise for the country’s benefit, and remind them often that you are watching and judging. (It doesn’t matter if this message is delivered on paper, in an email, or by a phone call. What really matters is that is delivered by each of us to each of them.)

    A bit of self-disclosure: I’m over 60. I’m a professional. I’m in the much-ballyhooed “1%.” I’m a Caucasian male. My wife, also a professional, is Hispanic. My grandchildren are Asian-American and Caucasian. In short, I and my family are currently doing well. But, we won’t be for long, as you will not, if the current nonsense continues much longer.

    So I ask you to consider, for a few moments, what the Republican Party (my party, up to now) is selling.

    1. The current “leadership” of the Republican Party tells us the economy is tanking because the Democratic Party is in power and is anti-business. Really?

    We’ve gone through nearly a decade of reckless, borrowed war spending, to the tune of trillions of dollars, presided over mainly by Republicans with no plan to pay for it. This huge drag on our common welfare lies at the Republican Party’s doorstep — the party that traditionally has touted itself as the champion of fiscal responsibility. (This does not excuse the Democrats in Congress. They voted for this staggering, unpaid-for spending because they saw immediate political value in going along at the time.)

    The current “leadership” of the Republican Party Republican Party tell us the Democrats are “anti-business. Really?

    The “anti-business” activities of the Democrats consist principally of:

    (1) Bailing out the financial sector with taxpayer dollars (which, thankfully, worked and mostly has been repaid);

    (2) Bailing out the auto manufacturers with taxpayer dollars (which, thankfully, worked and mostly has been repaid);

    (3)Proposing banking and financial service industry regulations to hamper wild speculation leading to another financial meltdown – which participants in the mortgage bubble admitted were needed because they lacked the moral will to refrain when their competition was willing and eager to act so recklessly for individual short-term gain.

    (4) Proposing that those of us who can afford it pay a little more in tax rates to bail us out of the financial quagmire we find ourselves in. Of course, the Republicans want to ignore the fact that tax rates under President Reagan were much higher than those now proposed by Democrats, yet the economy not only survived then; it recovered nicely.

    2. The current “leadership” of the Republican Party Republican Party tell us Government economic programs can’t and won’t work. Really?

    The history of this nation is filled with government programs that worked extremely well to nourish and spur the economy, for example:

    (1) Land grants to railroads as incentives to open up the West;

    (2) The Homestead Acts, for the same purpose;

    (3) The Louisiana Purchase, for crying out loud (which, by the way, was panned as wasteful government folly at the time) ;

    (4) The Interstate Highway System, conceived and brought into being by Republicans under President Eisenhower.

    3. The current “leadership” of the Republican Party Republican Party tell us Immigration reform is bad for the country. Really?

    This country came to greatness in the presence of flexible immigration laws. The current situation – – millions of illegal residents who are undocumented workers – – depresses the wages of all who participate in the labor market. Immigration reform would benefit every American worker in the long run, and tap a pool of talent that now trembles in the shadows.

    4. The current “leadership” of the Republican Party Republican Party tell us the health care reform act with its individual mandate and penalty for not buying insurance is a “job killer” and will harm the economy. Really?

    Of course they fail to mention (and hope we will all fail to note) that a primary effect of the law will be to free millions of American workers from the economic state of peonage they have suffered up to now: being forced to stay in a sub-optimal job that provides some employer-sponsored health insurance because, if they move to another job, they might not be able to get affordable health care insurance (or in many cases, insurance at all). The law affords millions the opportunity to better themselves, and millions more some basic health care protection for the first time.

    Have no doubt the private market will adjust and will be profitable. The Chicken Little critics of Medicare said the same things, but the sky did not fall then. It will not fall now.

    5. The current “leadership” of the Republican Party Republican Party tells us that if we just lower taxes on business some more, it will be the engine for an a job-creating economic miracle. Really?

    That bromide has been their clarion call for more that two decades. What fruit has it yielded? We’ve been through two “jobless recoveries” and are on our third. Median family income and assets have plummeted while the “lions of industry” have shipped millions of jobs overseas and accrued wealth at a staggering pace.

    If you want to see what continually lowering taxes has done in a Republican-controlled state, just take a look at Florida. In the last decade, hundreds of billions in business and wealth tax breaks have been granted. Our roads, bridges — infrastructure of all kinds — lapse ever more critically into disrepair. Our public education system is dysfunctional. Our university system is decaying quickly. The best and brightest are fleeing the state for better circumstances elsewhere. And, despite all this “business friendly” tax cutting, Florida’s unemployment rate is dramatically higher than the national average. Tell you anything?

    I’m no fan of the leadership of the Democratic Party, either, at least in the Congress and in the states. They lack the political courage to state their positions clearly. Many of them seem to think that all government spending is a good idea, when plainly they should be careful stewards of how our taxes are spent. They run away from serious tax and spending policy debates.

    Bottom line for me this election cycle:

    • I will vote against any Republican Party candidate for any office who does not convincingly demonstrate by actions that he or she is willing to compromise for the nation’s common good, is not beholden to the moneyed interests lavishing billions on the party, and is not afraid to stand up against the mindless drivel the Tea Party wing spouts.

    • I will send a letter to every candidate I vote for – independent, Democrat, or Republican – – reminding them that I will be watching what they do (not what they say) and that I will vote against and work against them come the next election if they drift to the extremes or if they do nothing to work for beneficial bi-partisan solutions.

    I hope each of you will do the same.

    • December 26, 2012 4:21 am

      Lie, start lying all the time, everyday lie lie lie, then start mankig promises that you not only do not intend on keeping but make sure you lie later and claim you never made a promise at all. Next, you’ll want to take a lot of pictures of yourself with gays, black, babies, and Muslim women. But not Muslim men, you might scare a few people in your party and who wants that?Last, you have a few options with this one, you’ll want to get a wife, she can be 1 or 3 things 1. Very Rich2. Very young (and good looking but with the personality of Miss California.)3. A Pro-life, anti-feminist with a Fundamentally Religious agenda willing to draw blood. IF you can get these things down you’re in! How does Governor of Nebraska sound?

    • July 24, 2014 9:09 am

      Dan,

      Your commentary hits the bullseye on every count. I am a public professional, am over 60, and firmly ensconced in the 99%. Live in New Jersey and would like to retire next year but I know the astronomical cost of living will likely force me to get the hell out. Anyway, I don’t believe that depending on our electoral process for socioeconomic reform would ever succeed because both national parties now answer to the affluent interests in our country in one way or another. The development of an effective, well-subsidized third party could begin to advocate for the interests of the 99, but I believe the other parties would financially override it with some negative propaganda effort to mislead and misinform its potential supporters and activists. Bascially, outspend the competition.

  5. October 10, 2012 6:20 pm

    I’ve been looking for some common sense in national leadership and maybe I’ve found it. There are sure no easy solutions to the complex challenges our nation faces, but the lefties and righties have reduced the issuse to seventh grade level soundbites. This by itself might not be so bad, but the long range effect is devastating as the country is softly removed from the hands of its people and delilvered into those of special interests. I don’t know what a few of us can do, but I’m willing to throw in with anyone who is not left or right and is interested in commonsense dialogue.

  6. Alphonso permalink
    June 27, 2014 12:27 pm

    Hello rick my name is Alphonso and though it does not matter to you I am African american and I love the new moderate website. My first question is, how were you inspired to do the website? And my second question is, if you ran for political office what would you do about the gridlock in Washington and would you run as a independent? I also have an idea about how you can keep up the website. Why don’t you write about all the events that happened in the course of three months! And write for the website every three months out of the year! That way you will give your followers fresh material to read instead of old stuff already read. So email me back with comments and questions and I hope you take my ideas into consideration and apply them I think it will work for you.

  7. Alphonso permalink
    June 27, 2014 12:40 pm

    Write your columns every three months

  8. August 30, 2014 8:09 am

    “Cynics are in need of constant reassurance; first, that their worst doubts about humanity are true and then, of course, that they are not.”

    “Since they make no allowances for happy surprises, cynics are forever being surprised.”

    “The danger of cynicism is getting what you believe in: nothing.”

    “In the same way that people are sensitive to condescension, fate is repelled by cynicism.”

    “Cynicism’s knowingness cheats itself out of true knowing.”

    “Cynicism: a knowingness that does not know it lacks spiritual stamina – in other words, a shortage of breath and vision.”

    “Cynics never win, because they insist on defeat.”

    “Cynicism loves Misery’s company.”

    Yahia Lababidi, Egyptian-American thinker and poet.

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