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Do Moderates Need an Ideology?

August 28, 2010

Today, in the capital of our unhappy republic, representatives of the wingnut right and wingnut left are staging dueling circuses. On the right, Glenn Beck and his overheated minions are assembling at the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us about his dream. On the left, the Rev. Al Sharpton, race-card player extraordinaire, will be rallying his own troops. Vintage journalist and social critic H. L. Mencken, merry old cynic that he was, would have relished the spectacle. Me, not so much.

I have a confession to make. Let me announce it right here, on my very own marginal patch of blogosphere turf, in front of my moderate comrades and anyone else who might stumble across these words:

I envy the wingnuts. 

That’s right, I’m jealous of the political extremists now proliferating across our polarized land like killer bees:  not only the half-cracked Fox News/Tea Party/Birther conservatives but the insufferably sanctimonious HuffPosters, PC police and minority militants… the rampant radicals of left and right (but mostly wrong)… the whole cocksure, self-righteous, self-indulgent lot of them.

Why would I envy a bunch of wrongheaded and frequently obnoxious fanatics, you ask? Sensible question, and I can reel off several sensible answers.

  1. Because they’re so popular. Fanatics use their fanaticism to manipulate and agitate crowds. After all, crowds always enjoy a rip-roaring show, and they like to have their prejudices confirmed by outspoken members of their tribe. For this reason, fanatics breed followers the way mosquitos breed more mosquitos.
  2. Because they’re winning. Just try getting elected these days if you’re a moderate Republican or Democrat. You’re more likely to see the Pittsburgh Pirates win their division. The only moderate news network, CNN, is tanking like the Titanic. You’d never know that more Americans today consider themselves moderate than liberal or conservative.
  3. Because they’re always sure they’re right. The extremists’ most irritating trait is their most damnably enviable: they enjoy perpetual peace of mind because they’re convinced they have all the answers. And why are they convinced they have all the answers? …
  4. Because they work from a script. That’s right, it’s all written down in unambiguous black and white. If you’re an ideologue, you don’t have to hammer out your own point of view, evaluate pros and cons, or weigh the impact of a policy upon the various segments of the electorate. You’re operating by a neatly codifed set of rules, laid down by an illustrious (and probably humorless) intellectual progenitor. And you’re catering only to the segment of the electorate that elected you in the first place. The others don’t count.

You can see why I turn a bilious shade of green when I think about the successes of our rivals on the fringes. How can we moderates possibly compete? We’re so infernally sensible, balanced, flexible, accommodating, willing to see both sides of the equation. We’re so… moderate!

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But some of my centrist colleagues (and I don’t blame them) are beginning to agitate for a little more definition within our fledgling movement. Are we just a bunch of chronic anti-extremists, shaking our noggins at the excesses of our wingnut adversaries? Or do we actually stand for something? If so, what?

Good question. It’s easy to say what moderates are against: Socialism. Robber-baron capitalism. Government that’s too big and intrusive. Government that fails to offer a basic safety net  High taxes. Artificially low taxes. Warmongering. Spineless appeasement. Special entitlements for  minorities. Insufficient concern for the well-being of minorities. Bleeding-heart generosity toward illegal immigrants and Islamists. Knee-jerk prejudice against Hispanics and Muslims.

Yes, we can take pride in our commonsense, finely balanced positions between too much and too little. But they’re like a negative-space portrait: the background is deeply colored, but everything inside the outline of the face is strangely blank. 

We know what we don’t like, but what do we want? What does our ideal society look like? Are we timid middle-of-the-roaders… namby-pamby compromisers who just want to keep the peace? Do we simply look at the extreme positions and take the average? Or do we moderates need an ideology to help define our core beliefs? Some of my colleagues believe we do.

I’ve always had a personal aversion to ideologies, probably because of the horrendous damage they’ve inflicted on societies over the past few centuries. An ideology is a rule book typically imposed on the masses by a tiny but supremely confident elite. The elite always know what’s best for the masses, of course, and anyone who doesn’t “get with the program” can wind up rotting away in a gulag or a freshly dug grave.

We can do better. I wouldn’t want to see moderates bind the public into an ideological straitjacket — even if we’ve designed the straitjacket ourselves, even if it’s the most comfortable and elegant straitjacket ever devised by the mind of man.

Still, a political movement needs a foundation, and moderates are no exception. Other than our opposition to extremism, what core principles guide those of us in the center of the political landscape?

I’d start with a healthy respect for the will of the people. Of course, “the people” are never going to agree on a single issue. But that’s precisely the point: unlike the ideologues, moderates would shun special interests in favor of “the greatest good for the greatest number.” That means you don’t allow judges to overturn popular votes or punish a state for defending its border at the people’s request… which leads me to the next core moderate principle:

The government must represent the interests of the governed. Let’s face it: our government has been hijacked by special interests. Lobbyists essentially own our elected representatives. Entrenched big-money interests have turned society into a cash-producing machine for their own use: the loot continually flows upward, against gravity, away from the middle class and into the pockets of the plutocrats. (The 100% reimbursement of Goldman Sachs’ bad investments with taxpayer dollars was a prime example.) This has to stop. We need to halt the illicit upward migration of money, just as we need to criminalize any exchange of funds between elected representatives and lobbyists. (Not so namby-pamby now, are we?) It’s also time to tighten the spigots a little on “free” services for people who haven’t paid into the system. Because we all know those services aren’t actually free. You can’t continue to drain the middle class and expect a nation to prosper.

The nation could use a megadose of healthy values. And we’re just the ones to provide it. Common sense. Decency. Civility. Nonpartisanship. Mutual respect. Pragmatism balanced with idealism. We moderates are uniquely positioned to promote solid, sensible beliefs, preferably without self-righteousness or religious fervor.

Finally, we need to help reunite the country. Because the left and right are engaged in a perpetual shouting match, they continually ratchet up the rhetoric and distort their own positions into self-caricatures. Frenzied believers tolerate no dissension within their ranks, and the infidels are cast into outer darkness. Moderate political candidates are pariahs within their own parties. Finally we’re left with Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton fighting for our attention in Washington.

The middle needs to get a voice — now. It’s starting to happen, but it has to happen faster. We moderates can use our unique position in the calm eye of the hurricane to fight the destructive rhetoric swirling around us at the extremes. Not with rigid ideology, but with the kind of decent civic principles we used to learn in school.

We have the potential power to keep America from spinning into the hands of extremists, but there’s another enemy to contend with: the apathy and complacency of our fellow moderates.  The center can no longer afford to be silent. The more vocal moderates — the bloggers, the politicians, the pundits, the passionate centrists from all walks of life — have to awaken the sleepers in our midst.

Come on, let’s do it together!

                                                                                                                       

Read a few more opinions on this subject from our comrades in the centrist blogosphere: Nick Goebel’s call for a more coherent centrist ideology at The Pragmatic Center, Solomon Kleinsmith’s argument against ideology at Rise of the Center, and these comments at The Centrist Zealot in response to my column.

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2010 3:56 pm

    This is really good Rick.

  2. Priscilla permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:26 pm

    I agree, an excellent post. But , of course, I have questions ( did you expect any less?) First question: did you watch any of the Beck rally on UStream? It was cheesy and dramatic, but wonderfully uplifting and positive – exceptionally decent and civilized, with virtually no political content at all. Sharpton’s, on the other hand, was bitter – he accused Beck of trying to “hijack the civil rights movement,” as if trying to unite diverse racial groups is somehow subversive.

    Yet, when I opened my AOL mail, the headline screamed “Beck Stirs Up Crowd,” and failed to note anything much about the rally, other than that it was “conservative.” I don’t know that it was. It was certainly religious, and had about it the flavor of an old fashioned revival meeting, but has religious faith become such an anthema to liberals and left leaning moderates that anyone who is religious ( at least if they are Christian) is automatically labeled a “wingnut.”?

    I agree with you that the partisan extremism in US politics has become toxic. I’m just not sure that charges of extremism against people of good faith is either wise or moderate.

  3. August 28, 2010 11:45 pm

    Thanks, Schmitty!

    Priscilla: It seems that Beck took the high ground for his rally, which was the right thing to do. I enjoy Beck as a radio entertainer and as a half-mad prophet in the manner of the Peter Finch character in “Network.” I even agree with many of his views. But he definitely enjoys his ability to “rouse the rabble” and typically uses it to spread alarmist theories that fuel fear and hatred. In other words, he helps spawn wingnuts. (BTW, I’d never use that term to describe decent Christian conservatives — just the belligerent types that our friend Patye seems to attract to her Facebook page.)

    I missed the TV coverage, unfortunately (I was out with my son most of the day), but the articles I saw described Beck’s rally pretty much the way you did. I want to catch highlights from both rallies ASAP.

  4. Priscilla permalink
    August 29, 2010 9:32 am

    “Belligerent (and Angry)” is a good word for those types….sort of the flip side of the”Arrogant and Elitist” types on the left. I must say though, Rick, that you are the only blogger that I read ( and I read many), who claims to be a moderate, and actually is consistently reasonable and fair in your opinions. Most of the self-described moderates out there lean so heavily to the right or the left ( usually the left), that I wonder what has caused them to think that they are moderates at all? My guess is that the extremely overheated rhetoric of the left in attacking the Bush administration(Nazi! Worst President in history! Darth Cheney! Chimp!) caused many liberals to recoil and consider themselves moderate in their viewpoint because they weren’t crazed Bush- haters……but the truth is, that many are still extremely liberal in their views, and have a hard time truely seeing the conservative point of view. Now we have a similar tit-for-tat type of hatefulness on the right, attacking Obama (Nazi! Muslim! Worst President in history! etc.,etc) which seems fair to many on the right, because it is no worse than the hate that was directed at Bush. Those on the right who exercise restraint in this regard may even consider themselves moderate.

    I guess what I am saying is that the very term “moderate” is misunderstood, or at the very least unclear, in the context of political discourse these days, and is used mostly in a relative sense ( as in “not wild-eyed”) rather than to describe the reasoned analysis that you employ in your posts. So, I agree that moderates need to speak up and speak out…..but, first, they need to be actual moderates!

    • August 29, 2010 11:37 pm

      Thanks, Priscilla — I appreciate the appreciation! I know what you mean about those self-described moderates who lean one way or the other and aren’t even aware of it. Yes, they’re probably defining themselves in relation to the extremists.

      I do try to be reasonable, even though my prejudices tilt me a little to the right on social/cultural issues and a little to the left on economic ones. But even with all the vitriol I heap on Wall Street, for example, I’m still aware that Democrats forced banks to dole out mortgages to high-risk homebuyers. I like to think I can see both sides of nearly every issue. (In those three-way New Moderate debates on the issues, I found it surprisingly easy to get inside Righty’s or Lefty’s head as they defended their positions.)

  5. grognard permalink
    August 29, 2010 12:51 pm

    I agree with Pricilla, when you look at the voting record of people who call themselves “moderates” you find they are often solidly in one camp or another. That might not mean that they are in lockstep with the idealogs of either party but they are none the less a safe vote for one party. My rule of thumb is that 40% of the elecotrated is reliably left, 40% reliably right and 20% a true independant swing voter. I think a true moderate would have voted at one time or another for both paries, even to the extent of purposely voting for divided government so that neither sides agenda gains traction. The middle is not large enough to set an agenda, bu the middle does decide what policies go forward. And there lies our power, if you want our vote make your agenda pragmatic and your discourse civil or we do not decide in your favor.

    • August 29, 2010 11:26 pm

      Grognard: I’ve seen a number of surveys that show moderates to be more of a numerical force than you suspect: more like 30-40%. It might be that many of these moderates consistently vote Republican or Democrat, simply because there’s no party of the middle. But you’re also right that plenty of self-styled moderates are actually liberals or conservatives who are contrasting themselves with the extremists in their camp.

      Moderates do have power as swing voters whose cooperation is vital, as you suggest. But I think we’d have even more power if we could galvanize the vast middle with a little centrist consciousness-raising. Eventually we might even create a centrist party.

  6. August 29, 2010 4:17 pm

    Great post! As you know I agree, we need a coherent message to push. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ideology or a specific set of policy proposals we need something to differentiate us and unite us. Right now we have nothing and that is why we are so marganalized and unorganized. But I know we can do it!

    Nick @ ThePragmaticCenter.com

    • August 29, 2010 11:18 pm

      Thanks, Nick! I think part of the problem is that most moderates and independents out there just don’t feel passionately about the issues the way the wingnuts do. Many of them are simply middle-of-the-roaders, which is a sensible enough attitude but doesn’t generate much heat.

      I agree that we need to promote some core principles as we try to build a more “activist” middle. We don’t want to fall into the trap of rigid ideology or shrill invective (sometimes I find myself going there, and it’s all I can do to pull myself back). But I think our core principles are so reasonable that they’re hard to dispute — except by ideological extremists.

      I also think it’s important to stress that we don’t always have to take the middle position. On some issues, like my stand against lobbying, I’m actually a radical — maybe because the right and left both depend on lobbyists to fund their campaign chests.

      As soon as I get a chance tomorrow, I’ll go back and link my column to your recent one on pragmatism as a unifying principle.

  7. Priscilla permalink
    August 30, 2010 10:07 am

    Rick, how do you think that the institutional press would view a “centrist party,” particularly one that might threaten the existing power structure in Washington? I’m guessing about as favorably as it has viewed the “Tea Party,” which is to say not very favorably at all. Just as grassroots, small government anti-tax & spend activists have been painted with the “bigot brush,” so “centrists would be showed to have some sort of hidden agenda…..most likely some sort of racism. Democrats have shown absolutely zero inclination to work with centrist Republicans, and many in the GOP have villified as RINOs any Republican who has sought to find common ground with the Dems.

    Now, that may change somewhat, assuming that the GOP retakes the House and comes close to a majority in the Senate, but the real advantage to Republican victory in November is……….gridlock! Seriously, the less damage that this government can do at this point, the better, and if Republicans winning will hamstring the current out-of-control spendfest, and put some pressure on Obama to focus on a growth economy and national security, then I say “GO GOP”. But it’s a sad commentary on the state of our politics that gridlock is to be desired.

    Rush Limbaugh ( I know, I know, but love him or hate him, he is brilliant) often says that the problem with bi-partisanship in Washington is that Democrats define it as Republicans going along with whatever Democrats want, and Republicans view it as compromising their values in order to gain access to power.

    The truth is that liberal moderates and conservative moderates share much common ground, but rarely -if ever – will they break from their more extreme leadership and stand together for that common ground. I don’t know if this is because we are electing extremists or because our elected officials lack moral courage ….but I don’t think that a thrid party is the answer. I think that the anwer is to elect moderates of both parties who have the courage to seek consensus with moderates on the other side of the aisle. Not merely compromise, but consensus. I am not optimistic about this happening, but I have hope 🙂

  8. August 30, 2010 10:19 pm

    Priscilla: Normally I’d also suggest voting for moderate Republicans and Democrats. But there’s one problem today that didn’t exist a few years ago: moderate Republicans and Democrats are having the hardest time winning their own primaries. They’re regarded as pariahs by party insiders. That means only far-right Republicans and lefty Democrats will be elected to office, which virtually guarantees more partisanship and stalemates in Congress.

    Sure, it would be a HUGE challenge to start a third party. There hasn’t been a permanent addition to America’s party lineup since before the Civil War. But third-party presidential candidates have taken surprising chunks of the popular vote, and a centrist party would be well-positioned to eat away at both major parties. I can’t imagine the establishment press blasting a centrist party based on its agenda — what would they criticize, our mildness? The real resistance would come from the hidebound party loyalists.

  9. Priscilla permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:02 am

    Well, I think that the establishment press would blast a third party in direct proportion to how much of a threat it was to the Democratic party….most mainstream journalists are Democrats and most actively promote the party’s agenda. And, maybe I’m less of a cynic than you, Rick, 😉 but I see a lot of moderates ( or maybe they’re pragmatic idealists) rising in both parties. Of course, I don’t think that conservatives, per se, are extremists, so I may see things differently, but I sense that the grip of the true extremists is weakening (charges of extremism on both sides notwithstanding).

  10. Priscilla permalink
    August 31, 2010 9:47 am

    **I also don’t think that liberals, per se, are extremists – I should have said that, but, for whatever reason, it is usually right-wingers that get hit with the extremist bat. Sort of the way that almost every single article that I read on the Beck rally mentioned that the crowd was predominantly white, although I never read that about anti-war rallies, which were also predominantly white, nor was there mention of the fact that the Sharpton rally was predominantly black. It’s just the way things are, and the way that most journalists think – many of them do it reflexively, without intent, but it has eroded their credibility with the right.

    • August 31, 2010 11:33 am

      Priscilla: Good points about non-fanatical liberals and conservatives (do we call them the Near Left and Near Right?) as well as the left-leaning media’s lamentable tendency to affix disparaging labels on anything they don’t like. To describe participants in a rally as “overwhelmingly white” seems like the ultimate “gotcha” strategy for self-hating white liberals — though it might be at least partly unconscious, as you suggest.

      We’ve been brainwashed since the ’60s into believing that white = bad, even though most white liberals here in Philly send their kids to private schools to avoid the 90% black public schools. (Class generally trumps ideology, even though the liberals would hotly dispute that notion.)

      Here’s the ultimate irony: to scoff at “overwhelmingly white” rallies or “the religious (i.e, white Christian) right” is like a secret code that establishes one’s identity as an upper middle class white liberal… society’s most desirable demographic (at least to upper middle class white liberals). This demographic is noted for its contemptuous attitude toward whites of lesser status, because they’re not allowed to be contemptuous of minorities and they have to be contemptuous of SOMEBODY. (After all, what’s the point of striving for that exalted status if you can’t feel superior?) I really should write a column about this crazy phenomenon.

  11. September 4, 2010 11:49 am

    Ideology is indeed very appealing to most people. It turns a world that is mostly in shades of gray into mostly black and white. However, I do not envy the ideologues. I can see their failures and how much better things could be now if they had not taken control. Unfortunately we cannot go back in time and undo the past.

    I have been struggling with the ideology concept. How to present moderation/pragmatism in a uplifting, positive and simple way is going to require thought. Maybe this is a chicken and egg problem.

    If a group of moderates/pragmatists in each state can articulate their vision, that would give the disaffected a set of ideas to coalesce around. Without an initial platform or ideology, my experience is that people will shy away because they do not know what the new entity stands for. There probably is no way to get away from a platform, but it doesn’t have to be based on liberal, conservative or other political/religious ideology. The ideology could be based on “pragmatism”, “realism” and/or “moderation” or something along those lines.

    Making progress will probably require state by state groups because what looks like moderation/pragmatism in one place could look liberal/conservative in another. And, it is probably true that most moderates really are actually Democrats or Republicans and will stay with their parties. That was discussed in a post on the Hankster a month or two ago, (http://grassrootsindependent.blogspot.com/2010/09/hankster-summer-friday-live-blogging.html) but I can’t find the correct link again. According to the Hankster’s post, only about 8% (or was it 15%? – I can’t recall the number, but it was low) of independents are actually independent.

    Anyone interested in putting together an initial platform or discussing how to do it is cordially invited to contact me. I am in California, but the problems that pragmatists/moderates face are similar everywhere.

    • September 13, 2010 2:21 pm

      Calmoderate: I find it hard to believe that such a low percentage (whether it’s 8 or 15%) of independents are truly independent. I’d think most American moderates and independents would be disgusted with both parties by now. But you raise an important issue: that what seems moderate to some people might seem too liberal or too conservative to others. And there’s probably some truth to the notion that there could be a geographic element at work here. “Moderate” in Massachusetts could translate to “liberal” in Alabama.

      The bottom line is that we have an uphill struggle if we want to wrest power from the two established parties. Third-party candidates have often done well, but the parties themselves have not. There hasn’t been a permanent addition to America’s party structure since the Republicans emerged in the 1850s.

      If ever we were going to see a new party appear on the scene, that time would be now — simply because so many of us are so deeply alienated by the current system. Organizing a new party on a state-by-state basis, though not impossible, would be a logistical and financial nightmare… I’d rather see a viable independent/centrist presidential candidate emerge first, followed by a chain reaction of new-party activists organizing nationwide around that candidate. If the candidacy is reasonably successful, the new party could then become a permanent fixture.

    • Kent E. Garshwiler II permalink
      September 30, 2010 11:41 pm

      Rick, that would be nice if someone came from out of nowhere and became President as an Independent, but realistically…No! Who would like to be a target from both Left and Right? I would, but really…by myself!!!

      Being a Centrist to me with Moderate philosophy doesn’t mean becoming President first and then everyone follows or flows into a new party. It is about bringing a message of a promise for a brighter future!

      You can become the first Independent President in history, but if the system tanks…that would be too risky and you would never get others on board. In your scenario time must pass after the Independent President is in power to see if he is good at being President then others might switch parties, plus ideologue parties are tough to get out of when you have friends and relatives. The idea is like a horse (leader) one mile ahead of the wagon (people) and a river between the two (parties).

      The leader must be close to it’s followers. Like a sheep herder to his own sheep. The sheep feel comfortable and the sheep herder feels confident he is going the right direction.

      My motto is: “A Government that is closest to its’ people, is a Government loved by its’ people”. If the USA is a Government of the people then the Centrist/Moderate ideologue must follow this format. It may take time to get to the top, but you have to put great care and skilled people in charge to get there. “If the message is true, let them try to stop you”.

      The idea is similar to any party. A party spokesperson with great orating skills, a motivator who can inspire, pragmatic, realist, no-nonsense, a person with no current ambitions to become anything other than speaking the truth of what works best for the people as a country, a problem-solver, a person who can compromise when logic prevails, a person who accepts failure, a person who accepts mistakes, a person who points out others failure, but doesn’t blame them for the current issues….in short, focuses on solving the current problems via the peoples priorities.

      Barack O. has great orating skills, a motivator who can inspire, but only when people hate the current leader (Bush), he is pragmatic, but everything else is not B.O.

      As a person from the state of Indiana (a Centrist purple state). I can assure you that there are plenty of Dems. who are trying to rid themselves of Barack Obama during this mid-term in order to win. If these Dems. are truly moderate and meet the quota, they could switch to a Centrist platform. I know one that might still lose a house seat no matter how many times he has said he isn’t on the “Obama team”….even though Obama campaigned in his county three times in the past year.

      The idea of having them switch to Centrist can bring new life to a desperate politician. If a politician is serious about helping his fellow man/woman then let him/her prove it by dedicating themselves to the cause that will keep them in politics (second chance).

      These individuals would be good starting point to pick up some qualified leaders for the lower or higher forms of government. I like to think of it as creating a foundation. This would absolutely bring change as new centrist party candidates start “popping up” all over the country. People will notice. In a sick way, it would be like acne. You can’t not help to notice that.

      just a thought from a radical centrist/moderate

  12. September 4, 2010 11:58 am

    Or, if there is a moderate group already working on new party platform issues and/or how to present it to the public, I would be interested in participating if the group is open to new participants.

  13. September 11, 2010 10:10 pm

    Thanks Rick!

    As you know, I’ve often addressed this same issue. I’ve tried to keep Moderate and Centrist separate in my head (even though I consider my own views to be both). To me, a Moderate can’t necessarily have a specific ideology, not because they should or shouldn’t, but simply because to me a Moderate represents the way in which one addresses politics, rather than the viewpoints they actually held.

    Some posters above suggested that Moderates usually either are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. I agree, but don’t think they can’t be a combination. There could be a Moderate Conservative Republican, a Moderate Liberal Democrat. The difference is, rather than taking an extremist route, they use civil discourse and respectful political means to achieve their goals.

    As for the Centrists, I believe that is another matter entirely. Naturally, many Moderates happen to be Centrists as well, just as many Republicans tend to be conservative and many Democrats happen to be liberal. They simply go together well, like socks and shoes. Centrism can, I believe, have a clear ideology.

    Nevertheless, I see Moderation as being more important than Centrism, because without moderation, centrism has nothing to stand on.

    Thanks again!

    Nils

    • September 13, 2010 2:44 pm

      Nils: I used to tell myself that “moderate” and “centrist” were virtually interchangeable in terms of goals and philosophy– that a centrist was essentially a moderate with an activist bent, someone who wore a suit and lived in Washington, DC. But you have a point when you suggest that a true centrist is more of an ideologue than a true moderate, and that the latter represents a political style or attitude more than a structured system of beliefs and policies.

      That said, I don’t know whether I’d be a moderate or a centrist. I used to prefer “moderate” (hence the name of my blog), but on some issues I’d be willing to go out on a limb and insist on radical reform. For example, I’d outlaw any exchange of payments ( including campaign contributions) between lobbyists and elected representatives. I’d forcibly revamp Wall Street and corporate America to keep plutocrats from gaming the system at the expense of the middle class.

      In other words, I’d be willing to pursue fairly radical solutions in an attempt to shift power back to the middle, without special entitlements for either the moneyed elite or the underclass. I like to think I’m similar to the Founding Fathers in that respect: Washington, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson were all “radical moderates” in the sense that they pursued a revolution to ensure that we had a “fair and balanced” government founded on rational moderate principles.

    • Kent E. Garshwiler II permalink
      September 30, 2010 10:52 pm

      I would say that radical times require radical ideas. Now is the time! Time to march in malls, parking lots and stir the public! Cause action from inaction. The Dems. are trying to stir the public to dislike the Tea Party. …So why can’t anyone else??

      The Dems. sure would have a tough time competing with two new parties at the same time. Meanwhile, one of the true new parties. Centrist composed of moderates would be able to pull elements of Independents from Tea Party that are not truly interested in voting Rep. and join and then pull Dem. and Rep. that fit Centrist ideologue.

      So what is Centrist ideologue? It’s moderation with an agenda! That’s what it is…being radical with moderation. Centrist is a political attitude with style that is structured on beliefs and policies coming from the basics of the Constitution. Whereas the Rep. use the Constitution in ways that benefit Religion morals and Dems. use the Constitution to reinvent “control” or alterations of the Constitution based on Emotions.

      In order to get people to view the Centrist view, you will have to use realism to shock the people and be pragmatic. In other words, be matter-of-fact or no-nonsense. One that challenges the people to do their own research…to actually think (critically). Other than letting the politicians decide for them. You must insult their intelligence by challenging them to think about things that they find important. This brings intelligent thinkers to the new party and keeps the “wingnuts” out in the other parties.

      Anyone that would try to tell the truth these days would bring change as never seen before.

  14. September 22, 2010 9:19 am

    Great post. Love what you’re doing here.

  15. Kent E. Garshwiler II permalink
    September 30, 2010 4:26 pm

    I am greatly impressed with your posts. There is an ideology for Centrists, but not in the U.S.A. It doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one though. It’s not about winning the highest position in political office. It is about achieving the ideas to keep what we believe. To fix what is broken with the “swinging pendulum” of politics. To makes gains for all and not just individual interest groups. The ideology where religion has its own place in an individual’s life and the Constitution is respected equally as well.

    I decided to be Centrist a few years ago as I saw the “pendulum” beginning to swing to the left prior to the beginning stages of primary campaigns in Dec. 2007. I even wrote and gave a speech about “change” in Oct. 2007. Little did I know someone had taken the word “change” a few months later.

    Anyway, there is an ideology for Centrists, and that is balance. Centrists must balance between what is sound between the religious right and the humanist/socialist/progressive forces in politics. Implementing a view of Religion vs. Humanist is the basic view to gain the idea of putting the Constitution between the two political ideologies.

    As a National Centrist I believe in “pro-life” and “pro-choice”. The Constitution guarantees people should live without threat of religion. There is a balance as long as you use the Constitution.

    You can have both. Just as I believe not in Socialism or Pure Capitalism, but Social Capitalism….where everyone is equal to be a capitalist and the government inspires people to do things for themselves. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t inspire people to do things for themselves. This is why we are not in the next phase of Capitalism. This is why Capitalism in many cases falls back into Socialism around the world. When things go sour in a Capitalist country the obvious answer is to go back to Socialism. You have to move to the next step of Capitalism. Neither the Dems. or Reps. grasp this.

    Anyway, like your stuff.

    Go National Centrist Party

    • October 12, 2010 1:34 pm

      Kent: Sorry it took me so long, but I didn’t forget you. I agree that we need a party (or at least a coherent platform) that offers an alternative to both the extremists and the “business as usual” moderates who support establishment politics, special-interest lobbies and so on.

      The new centrists would be “radical with moderation,” as you said. We would take at least a moderately populist position on the issues; our ultimate goal would be to wrest power from entrenched interests and restore it to the people who do the voting — without favoring the poor over the middle class. The general idea is that we wouldn’t favor any class of people.

      We’d outlaw the funding of elected representatives by lobbyists… reverse the Citizens United decision that allows big-money interests to fund candidates anonymously… cut government spending by cutting back on entitlements (including those huge pensions for public-sector workers)… and impose just enough controls over the private sector to ensure a level playing field — no more favors for plutocrats who enrich themselves at our expense.

      Whew — that’s some agenda. But it’s not really an ideology… it’s more like common sense in action. We need to be brave enough to risk being called radical by the right and reactionary by the left. At the same time, I think we could use our moderate instincts — our ability to see both sides of an issue — to help close the rift between the right and left (at least a little). It’s time we all started thinking of ourselves as Americans instead of partisans.

  16. valdobiade permalink
    October 1, 2010 2:20 pm

    Ken wrote: When things go sour in a Capitalist country the obvious answer is to go back to Socialism. You have to move to the next step of Capitalism. Neither the Dems. or Reps. grasp this.
    =========

    In our beloved US of A, when things go sour under Reps the obvious answer is to go back to Dems and vice-versa, meaning that we go back and forth to our old vices 🙂

  17. MadMod permalink
    November 6, 2010 6:33 pm

    Bewere the Radical moderate. They value Logic over Emotion. Compromise over Conformity. Fairness over Blind Faith. And will politely disagree with those who are not with them.

    – Looks like you got a good point Rick, there’s nothing scary or news worthy about moderates. And until moderates get together or/and do something that gets the Media’s attention; it will continue to be the choice between the lesser of two nutjobs.

    • November 8, 2010 1:21 pm

      Good points, MadMod. The nutjobs are running the asylum.

      There’s talk now of moderates needing to “brand” themselves so people know where we stand. I agree up to a point, but it’s still unfortunate that we have to “dumb down” our ideas to gain support.

  18. Cocohound permalink
    November 9, 2010 9:55 am

    You are right about “An ideology is a rule book typically imposed on the masses by a tiny but supremely confident elite.” I guess what is nice about the internet is the way ideologies can start as grass movements on blogs – much more democratic! radicalcentrism.org, centermovement.org, and the UK based centrist.org.uk all seem to try to define ideologies in the center which are little more inclusive, even if I can’t decide which one I prefer. (Although centrist.org.uk has not set comments up on its blogs – it’s the 21st century – get with the program!)

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  20. September 1, 2011 10:54 am

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  21. January 29, 2012 1:23 pm

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