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 lamented 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 on 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