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The New Moderate Q&A

October 20, 2009

Q. What on earth possessed you to start a blog for moderates, anyway?

A. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do I. The vast mid-range of the political spectrum lacked a galvanizing voice, so I decided to clear my throat and start galvanizing.

Q. But there are already numerous moderate blogs out there for the reading. Why yours? 

A. Can you name any of them off the top of your head? Didn’t think so. Our mission (and I’ve chosen to accept it) is to light a fire under the moderate majority — at least the minority of  moderates who actually take an interest in public affairs and ideas. The New Moderate wants them to lose their inhibitions and make noise; otherwise the political debate in the U.S. will continue to be controlled by ideologues on the right and the left.

Q. Don’t the extremists contribute to the vital push-and-pull of ideas in a free society?

A. Yes. They’re responsible for quite a lot of pushing and pulling.

Q. You don’t want to silence them, do you?

A. No, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I just don’t believe that two erroneous ideas in opposition will necessarily lead to a good idea. A donklephant (with apologies to is still a grotesque creature. Believe it or not, moderate ideas don’t always take the form of a compromise.

Q. An example, please?

A. Take lobbying, a dubious institution favored by lefties and righties alike. Both camps use lobbying to push their one-sided agendas, generally by stealth and thinly veiled bribery. A thinking moderate would conclude that lobbyists are hazardous to our public health, and would denounce them in no uncertain terms. A radical moderate would push to criminalize any flow of money from lobbyists to representatives.

Q. Sounds pretty vehement. Are you sure you’re a moderate?

A. Absolutely. I’m just not your traditional, excessively polite, garden-variety, namby-pamby moderate. That’s why I call my creation The NEW Moderate. I’d like to be known as a moderate firebrand.

Q. Moderate firebrand? Isn’t that sort of an oxymoron?

A. Not anymore. The New Moderate intends to kick butt — righteously, of course. I’d like to make it safe for moderates to espouse radical ideas when radical ideas are justified. After all, moderates can be revolutionaries, and vice versa. Look at George Washington and Ben Franklin, to name just a few moderate revolutionaries.

Q. But doesn’t a radical stance on any issue automatically make you a leftist?

A. No, that’s the big misconception about us: that moderates are locked into bland, middle-of-the-road solutions… that we can’t demand change and still be moderates. A true moderate believes in balance for the good of society: the greatest good for the greatest number. It disturbs us (and it should) when special-interest groups upset that balance to remake society in their own image. Whether the great scale is tipped toward the insatiable plutocrats of Wall Street or “progressives” who ban conservatives from campus, we moderates want to tip it back toward the center. Sometimes this act requires a lot of forceful tipping.

Q. But wouldn’t it be pretty boring if everyone were a sensible moderate?

A. It probably would, and I’d be the first to admit it. But I don’t expect everyone to be a moderate. I wouldn’t even want everyone to be a moderate. (We need extremist ideas for comic relief, if nothing else.) Believe it or not, I actually enjoy the push-and-pull of conflicting ideas. But politics is like a see-saw. If one side carries too much weight, the see-saw will thump to the ground. We need a strong moderate presence to keep the see-saw in motion.

Q. Does that mean you have to sit in the middle of the see-saw, shifting your balance when one side weighs it down?

A. You’ve got it. And the tricky part is that we have several see-saws going at once: for example, right now the economic see-saw has been tilting toward the right while the cultural see-saw tilts toward the left. That keeps us pretty busy, and it’s why we need a strong middle now more than ever.

Q. How’s your traffic by the way?

A. Don’t ask.

Q. Too late; we already did.

A. All right, since you asked: fairly dismal, but that’s to be expected for a moderate blog, and a relatively new one at that. Most moderates have a tendency toward apathy, but we aim to change all that. The recent flurry of comments has been encouraging, at least. We’re building an audience, one moderate at a time.

Q. Good luck.

A. Thanks. I’ll need it. So will the U.S. if moderate voices don’t prevail.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 6:41 pm

    OK, Rick, candidate for the Non-Namby-Pamby Nobel Prize Award, you asked for it.
    After reviewing “The Three Faces Of Eve” and “Psycho”, I think you should start your screen play for “The New Moderate”. Problem, I can’t think of any living actors that could play the lead as well as Cooper and Stewart. Oh ,well, you can do the casting later after the book deal and before the TV series.
    Can’t use the name Rick though, for the lead as it will make people think it is a Casablanca remake, maybe something more contemporary like O’Gothcha HuHa Huff (get that Huffington sublininal hint, for convative to liberal and maybe moderate someday?). A writer: I think Maureen Dowd needs a leap onto the big screen. Even if she doesn’t have moderate credentials, yet, I love her dialogues and can see many of the three way conversations you so savior. Better do this fast though, before the Coen brothers get wind (are those your socks or did they just dig up Reagan again) of this project.
    LOL, Hollywood needs to get knocked on their Polanski loving asses.
    Oh, I, can name a moderate website: The Moderate Voice. I have been trying to gain admission for about a week. It is like cozying up to lefty and righty rattlesnakes. Very little humor and strident viewpoints R&L.

  2. October 21, 2009 2:27 pm

    dduck: Believe it or not, somebody has already written a screenplay about me (based on my other incarnation, the good-natured creator-webmaster of The Cynic’s Sanctuary). I don’t expect to see it “greenlighted” anytime soon, though.

    I don’t know if my career as a “moderate firebrand” will inspire any future movies. (Maybe a cable sitcom.) And heck, if Maureen Dowd wants to star in it, I say bring her on! She has the looks and the smarts, though she could probably eat me for breakfast.

    I haven’t tried to curry favor with any of the moderate blogs since all but one of them ignored my e-mail about organizing a moderate movement. I don’t know if they’re lazy, self-absorbed, or just too timid to show a little fire and passion. I keep thinking of T.S. Eliot’s line, “Do I dare to eat a peach?” That pretty much sums up the mentality of the American moderate these days.

    But you said The Moderate Voice seemed more like a battleground between leftist and right-wing extremists? That’s probably because the real moderates were too scared to speak up. We outspoken moderates really have our work cut out for us.

  3. October 21, 2009 3:54 pm

    Have you ever read Peter Vierek’s “Conservatism Revisited” Great little book and I think it could use a little revisiting itself. If I can take a few liberties here, he essentially argues that conservatism is about balancing the wisdom of not changing things too quickly with the need to sometimes institute new reforms to achieve that very end. He also states, pretty explicitly, the a big part of the tradition to be “conserved” by conservatives is classical LIBERALISM.

    Keep on writing, man. We’re reading.

    • October 21, 2009 3:59 pm

      He also states, pretty explicitly, the a big part of the tradition to be “conserved” by conservatives is classical LIBERALISM.

      So is that like a moderate?

      • October 21, 2009 4:08 pm

        I believe so!

  4. October 21, 2009 6:03 pm

    Classical liberalism is essentially a more gentlemanly version of libertarianism. What they share is respect for individual liberty. But instead of promoting naked greed and libido gratification like today’s libertarianism, classical liberalism resembles the kind of system our founding fathers had in mind: an society of independent, enterprising individuals that encourages both cooperation and freedom of expression.

    One of the sacred tenets of classical liberalism is the “free marketplace of ideas”: the notion that the people can be trusted to hear all ideas, approve the good ones and reject the bad ones. The left today is especially skittish on this issue; they’re usually the first to ban politically incorrect speakers from campus and pressure sponsors to drop media personalities (like Glenn Beck) whose opinions clash with theirs. So the mantle of classical liberalism has lately fallen upon the shoulders of the more moderate conservatives (I usually point to George Will as a fitting example of the breed).

    Moderates can be classical liberals, too. The term “liberal” used to convey generosity of spirit, love of freedom and lively discourse. It was the ultimate expression of Enlightenment thinking. Needless to say, the meaning of the word has been corrupted over the years (especially recent years). Maybe that’s why today’s liberals now call themselves “progressives” instead — even though Teddy Roosevelt would probably throw a fit.

  5. October 21, 2009 6:36 pm

    Wait a sec, Rick. I thought this was a family blog.
    Talking about libertines, like Marquis de Sade is a little too risque for me.
    However, I do like the libertarian stuff; sounds cool.

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