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Note to a Young Moderate Activist

December 14, 2009

As a minor star in the largely unnoticed constellation of moderate bloggers, I’ve found myself wondering how we can make ourselves more visible. How do we turn up the heat, emit more light, dazzle the stargazers?

Nils Bergeson is an upbeat twenty-something graduate student with his own centrist blog, aptly called Moderate Thinking. But he’s done something else, something eminently suited to our ultraconnected Web 2.0 era:  He’s started a Moderate Thinking group on Facebook. Already more than 1100 members strong, the group can serve as a vital sounding board (and venting arena) for chronically exasperated, alienated moderates like me (and probably like you).

I’ve known Nils as a congenial fellow moderate blogger, but the Facebook forum was a revelation. I had to let him know how valuable a service he was providing for all of us homeless men and women in the vast, voiceless mid-regions of the American political landscape.

Nils: My dream is to create the nucleus of a moderate/centrist movement with our sites, work cooperatively, swap ideas, attract a following and eventually reach critical mass: we moderates would finally become an active, vocal presence to temper the wildly polarized ideas of the right and left.

It won’t be easy. Moderate ideas are sensible and just — but not intrinsically exciting. That’s our biggest problem, because we already have a plurality of Americans (roughly 40%) on our side. (Most of them just don’t know it yet.)

We need to generate excitement for our ideas, and that’s what I try to do at The New Moderate. I use irreverence, humor, anger and passion to promote our cause. Like you and Stephen Erickson, I insist that moderate solutions don’t have to be tepid, middle-of-the-road compromises.

I saw your post on “300,000,000 heads” and I heartily agree: most of the time, the collected wisdom of the people trumps the narrow pronouncements of the ideologues. I’d like to see a few more of those 300,000,000 people get involved here. Your membership list is growing fast, but more of those members need to speak up.

Meanwhile, I’m really glad we’ve connected here. Some of the most prominent moderate bloggers don’t seem interested in anything but their blogs; they write about the “trees” but I suspect they’re not looking at the forest. We’re different, and I think we can MAKE a difference.

There. That felt good. I’m already a little more hopeful about the future.  Take Nils and his 1100-plus moderates on Facebook,  mix with Stephen Erickson’s ambitious grassroots centrist organization at, add my own musings and diatribes here at The New Moderate — and we might have the makings of a potent chemical reaction that flashes its light across the night sky of American politics. I hope the stargazers are watching.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 12:24 am

    Rick, thanks for the publicity. It’s been exciting to see the growth of the facebook group, especially over the past couple of months. Having a blog is great, but (as I’m sure you’ve realized as well) it’s difficult to use a blog as a place for communication and fully open discussion. There are so many Moderates who do care out there, but have found it difficult to dedicate a lot of time to the Moderate activism. Facebook gives an opportunity to Moderates of all differing levels of activity.

    One thing I’ve done to try and promote the facebook group in a meaningful way is to tap into political actors who use facebook. I took my native Utah (though I’m now a Virginia resident) and networked with all the state political figures using facebook, which surprisingly was nearly all of them. I included personalized invitations to join the group for each of them. While not all joined, several did. One representative even wrote me a letter praising the work for promoting moderate principles. He even went on to invite several people himself. In short, a substantial number of Utah’s legislature is now listening to what Moderate thinkers have to say. Eventually, I would like to duplicate the exercise for all states

    The web can truly be a powerful tool for us when used well. Here’s to continual growth of the Moderate movement!

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