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Summer Rerun #1: Advice for the Thinking Moderate

July 31, 2012

Since I’m on vacation and trying not to think too hard, I thought this would be the ideal time for summer reruns of New Moderate columns from 2009 — our first year as a full-fledged blog. Daily readership in those days numbered in the low-to-mid double digits, so these columns will be new to most of you. I’ve picked out a few that are still relevant in 2012… and I’ll run them every couple of days until we return to live action.

Do moderates really need to think? Can’t we just examine the opinions of the extremists and take the average?

Afraid not. There’s more to being a moderate than dwelling in the middle. The midpoint has its charms, but we moderates could use a little more imagination, fire and gusto if we want to see our ideas prevail. That’s right — we need ideas, too. And the more original, the better.

Example: Both right-wing and left-wing groups depend heavily on lobbying, the unsavory practice of allowing special interests to fund the campaigns and pet projects of senators and congressmen in exchange for “favors.” The lobbyists fill a politician’s pockets, and they expect said politician to push their agendas in return. In other words, our elected representatives can be bought — and believe it or not, it’s all perfectly legal.

Where does a conscientious thinking moderate stand on lobbying? There’s no middle ground here, because the left and right seem to be in perfect agreement that lobbying is a politically (and financially) useful practice. We moderates can’t simply “take the average” on this issue and walk away. We need to stand up, stick our heads out of our cozy foxholes and denounce the practice of paid lobbying until somebody listens… until it becomes unacceptable and eventually illegal for private interests to play puppeteer with the representatives of the people.

What will it take for American moderates to grow into their destined role as outspoken champions of impartiality and fair play? Our republic and its ideals are being frittered away by a combination of partisanship, corruption and inertia. Thinking moderates everywhere need to renounce their traditional role as quiet and dispassionate onlookers. We’ve been too polite. We need to let ourselves get angry now and then, to awaken our inner Patrick Henrys (are you down there, Patrick?) and let fly a good resounding salvo in defense of our beliefs.

Come on, moderates, let’s find our voice!

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Kent permalink
    August 1, 2012 2:54 pm

    Rick, Our Libertarian, Independent, Moderate and Centrist voices were stronger before the 2010 mid-term elections. Most saw that the direction was going right vs. left. The middle politicians leaving Congress: Bayh, Snow, etc. That was the time to start a Centrist Party and “Suck up” the losses. Start fighting for the “center” or at least prepare for 2012 elections in small districts and communities.

    This isn’t something to change “overnight”, but a thought process that is needed and action to be taken. What is “Moderate”, “Centrist”. It isn’t just staying silent in the middle while two tug on the “middle” from opposite ends.

    It involves an ideology that tugs both sides and is aggressive to maintain it’s position. The quest is to set the position. Which leads to my next point.

    There are many “center” groups in the USA and on the Internet. It is only going to get bigger as the two opposing forces clash.

    This leads to disenfranchised people who want to be recognized and not take extreme sides. Who is there to provide this??? Only a few groups, but together under a new committee designed under “center” policy can this grow. .

    Do you have a group in mind that isn’t biased toward either side? One that caters to the Libertarians (that makes them look less crazy), Independents (that makes them feel found), Moderates (that makes them not to take sides on every different issue), Centrists (that want the previous groups merge into one)?

    I do not see lobbying going away and doing so defeats a center party. Finding “Center” companies …..strong ones…will take both the left and right support away. It also strengthens the center with money. It is using what the left and right use against them.

    Remember: If you can’t beat them, join them, but do it with a clarity that the supporters do not run the party.

    If you (companies/lobbyists) don’t want to be a part of the solution, you are part of the problem!

  2. Kent permalink
    August 1, 2012 3:22 pm

    Rick, I will go further.

    In Centrist Ideology and probably the others two opposing sides (which hide this, but you can clearly see in their actions..voting, speaking, etc.).

    A Centrist is outspoken is quite clear.

    If you are not with us, you are against us! There is only one true way to solve problems. The best one being offered. It may not be without pain or suffering, it may involve financial woes, but the long-term must be something that provides a future for all.

    No Democrat, nor Republican will say this because they don’t want to “hurt” anyone. No “balls” speaking the facts: they say that there will be no no pain, suffering, financial woes, but a guaranteed long-term solution.

    Note that the last one is exactly what we don’t have and we have everything prior.

    They say they don’t want to hurt anyone, but do so and then blame the other person. We should be blaming ourselves for not stepping up and doing something about these problems years ago than just talking.

    So now we only have more disenfranchised Americans and a few splinter groups of Libertarians, Independents, Moderates and Centrists.

    Someone once said that to say “If you are not with us, then you are against us”.
    Jesus : Mark: 9:40
    Vladimir Lenin
    Benito Mussolini
    Hillary Clinton
    George Orwell
    Vic Toews

    If you are correct in thought and finding solutions, then the other ones must be wrong.

    There is only one clear and absolute direction. Forward. If you don’t agree, go backward and find your other “forward” or step out of the way to the side.

    Those in the middle are currently stepping to the side while two parties (both Dems and Reps.) are trying to walk opposite directions.

    We can stay in the center and play finger games, but we need to find a direction that isn’t going in either the Dems or Reps, but takes a perpendicular route. This means an ideologue that is new, accepting, flexible, clear, compassionate with limitations, and able to punish abusers of monetary and any other physical assets.

  3. August 1, 2012 7:53 pm

    Hurray a call by Rick to ask moderates to think, but it is necessary to do more than just come up with ideas. It is necessarily to to examine your beliefs and values, to try reconcile them against the real world.

    Is an idea that will not work in the real world smart of not ?

  4. August 1, 2012 8:01 pm

    And then we get back to this “money is the root of all evil” malarkey.

    If paid lobbiests are inherently bad, then what about sales, and marketing ?
    What about diplomats ? What about actors, television ? unions ?

    Are only some forms of paid advocacy improper ?
    How do we distinguish the improper from the proper ?

    Is it only trying to persuade politicians that is improper ?

    If we ban paid lobbiests, can CEO’s argue their own case in front of regulators and legislators ? What about the heads of charities and non-profits ?

    Is it only accepetable to voice and oppinion if it is not your job to ?

    • August 1, 2012 8:02 pm

      Does the truth become false if you are paid to tell it ?
      Do lies become truth when spoken uncompensated ?

  5. August 1, 2012 11:00 pm

    Sooo, I have a question. Today, Chik-FIl-A broke fast food sales records, due to a “Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day,” organized in response to the boycott of Chik-Fil-A encouraged by many gay activist groups and politicians, such as the mayor of Boston (“CFA is not welcome on the Freedom Trail”) and Rahm Emmanuel, the mayor of Chicago, and former Obama Chief of Staff. (Yes, the same ex-Chief of Staff that welcomed Louis Farrakahn and his racist, anti-Semitic minions to help out with the gang violence that is torching Chicago).

    The crime committed by Dan Cathy, “openly Christian” owner of CFA, was to state, in an interview, when asked, that he was opposed to gay marriage. He stated that this OPINION was based on his personal religious beliefs. CFA does not discriminate against gays in its hiring practices, nor does it violate the civil rights of any citizen. Cathy was expressing his opinion.

    I happen to be a supporter of gay marriage, although I have my doubts that we can stay off of the slippery slope that it would put us on, at least in legal terms. But I think that moderates of any stripe have to support the right of the owner of CFA to express his opinion, without fear of reprisal from the government.

    If moderates “take the average” on this issue, and walk away, then we are standing by, as quiet and dispassionate onlookers, as a citizen’s right to free expression is shredded. I happen to think that this is more important than campaign finance law. Whaddya say?

    • August 2, 2012 7:19 pm

      Whether the Boycott of Chick-fil-a is effective or not, the response of both detractors and supports is the appropriate way of dealing with most anything like this that offends us.

      If our level of offensive is insufficient to advance a boycott sufficient to alter behavior – then we do not really care enough about the issue. Certainly we should not be crafting laws to punish people for behavior we are not motivated enough to punish in the marketplace.

    • Kent permalink
      August 3, 2012 12:48 am

      I don’t see this effecting me. The Chicken is great! I hope that both enjoy bashing each other if that is what they wish to do! God just loves stupidity. That is what makes him better than mankind.

    • August 3, 2012 8:49 am

      I have no issue with boycotts. Nor would I personally stand in line for 2 hours to buy a chicken sandwich to prove a point, which is what many did the other day.

      But I have an issue with powerful government leaders declaring that expressing an opinion against gay marriage constitutes “hate speech,” or stating that a company will be banned in a particular city – say, Boston or Chicago – if that company’s owner should dare express an opinion that differs from the ruling party’s political doctrine.

      Once we allow politicians to “craft laws to punish people for behavior we are not motivated enough to punish in the marketplace,” ( I like that, Dave, it’s such a unemotional libertarian way to phrase it) our freedom is truly threatened. Fair or not……

  6. Anonymous permalink
    August 2, 2012 8:42 am

    Whatever moderates may be, they are NOT the ultra-conservative nuts who have the reins of the Republican party. With any luck moderates are going to prevent this nightmare. Otherwise, God help us.

    The stunning Texas victory of Ted Cruz, a young Tea Party-backed Republican over an establishment candidate vying for a Senateseat, has already so emboldened the insurgent conservative movement that activists are warning Mitt Romney he had better get on board.
    “These guys [newly elected Tea Party candidates]” are going to force Romney to the right,” said Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman forTea Party group Freedom Works. “That is our entire mission.”
    Cruz won the Texas Republican primary Tuesday night. In Texas, winning the Republican nomination is a virtual lock on a Senate election.
    His victory is the latest in a string of Tea Party candidates to tap into anti-establishment frustration within the Republican Party and overcome the steep odds and deep pockets of more mainstream candidates.
    Riding a wave of recent successes in the House and now also the Senate, Tea Party groups are eyeing the possible control of both chambers, a prospect, they say, would force Romney, were he to win the presidential election in November, “to move to the right.”
    “If we can elect a really conservative House and Senate that will force Romney to go along with our bold conservative agenda,” Shell said. “He’s going to have to really, really go to the right. He’ll be working with guys in the House and Senate. He won’t be able to get away with too many middle of the road policies, especially on things like the deficit.”
    Capitol Hill observers note that many newly elected and Tea Party-backed legislators want to remove the taint of Republican-back government spending during the Bush administration. So dedicated are they to the goals of cutting spending, shrinking the deficit and keeping government small, that they are motivated by ideology and not party loyalty.
    “It’s not going to be a Romney driven presidency,” Norman Orenstein, a researcher at the conservative think tank AEI recently told ABC News. “It’s going to be a Congressional, conservative, Republican driven presidency from Congress.”
    But one adversary turned supporter, said Romney need not worry about taking orders from the Tea Party because both had the same, not opposing agendas.
    “If the Tea Party says it wants Romney to move right, I think, that’s were Romney is going anyway,” Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and presidential candidate, told ABCNews.com.
    “Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget plan, opposed tax increases, and indicated he supports the full repeal of Obamacare. That’s a pretty activist opening day,” Gingrich said.
    “You have to think of Romney as having a foot in the Tea Party and a foot in the establishment,” he said, adding, “that’s right where the Republicans want him.”
    Requests for comment from the Romney campaign were not returned.

    • August 2, 2012 5:20 pm

      If ultra-conservative nuts have the reins of the Republican Party, how come they nominated a moderate? And elected, as Speaker, a moderate?

      Not denying that the tea party has clout, but it’s quite a stretch to say that they control the party.

      By the way, is that you, Ian?

      • Anonymous permalink
        August 3, 2012 7:08 am

        Ian is too busy to post these days and is trying to ignore our national mud wrestling, so it can’t be him.

        But this may be relevant.

        “Is anybody at home?”
        There was a sudden scuffling noise from inside the hole, and then silence.
        “What I said was, ‘Is anybody at home?'” called out Pooh very loudly.
        “No!” said a voice; and then added, “You needn’t shout so loud. I heard you quite well the first time.”
        “Bother!” said Pooh. “Isn’t there anybody here at all?”
        “Nobody.”
        Winnie-the-Pooh took his head out of the hole, and thought for a little, and he thought to himself, “There must be somebody there, because somebody must have said ‘Nobody.'” So he put his head back in the hole, and said: “Hallo, Rabbit, isn’t that you ?”
        “No,” said Rabbit, in a different sort of voice this time.
        “But isn’t that Rabbit’s voice?”
        “I don’t think so,” said Rabbit. “It isn’t meant to be.”

        Rabbit says that its pretty obvious how the relatively moderate Romney won the nomination even though conservative extremists are driving the GOP. One “moderate” divided any conquered a large field of truly pathetic and unelectable conservatives.over the dead bodies of the majority of GOP core voters. As to the “moderate” Speaker, that label is quite debatable. Rabbit sees another very conservative politician or at least a politician who knows who is holding the reins in his party.

        Kent is right on in his reply.

      • August 3, 2012 8:32 am

        It is also a stretch to call them “ultra conservative”. Though like any political group the Tea Party contains members whose values do not reflect those of the group – Republicans have Sherif Joe Arrapia, democrats have Bill Ayres, these do not represent the group as a whole.

        From the Tea Party’s web site “The Tea Party’s three core values are fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.”

        I fully agree with those values. You need not, regardless they are quite ordinary values, far from ultra conservative.

        When they go beyond that and elucidate specific planks – many – specifically those I disagree with aline with those you call “moderate”.
        A fixation on borders, the belief that the movement of goods and people across them is somehow bad. A fixation on special interests.

        Romney – and Obama, are going to say whatever then need to say in order to get elected. Romney are president is likely to be as different from Romney as a candidate as Obama was – a fairly great distance. He is likely to have as many promises unkept.

    • Kent permalink
      August 3, 2012 1:03 am

      Anonymous, I was just thinking this earlier today.

      If Romney wins, and it is likely from reports that the Republicans will win both parts of Congress then the Republicans can get whatever they want for most part. This is “lop-sided”. No check/balances.

      Romney is a liberal Conservative, but shows some moderation. His Capitalist tendencies are quite apparent. All you have to do is examine his past work. He is Mormon, which is strict in many areas of life. Religion also turns toward the extreme conservative.

      There is no stopping his turning to extreme conservative values when confronting a Republican Congress. Congress will demand from their President action on Republican ideals since they will be the majority.

      On the other hand. If Obama is still President. He will keep the Government in “check” from any “extreme conservative agendas”.

      I do not like these one-way party controlling Congress and Executive Branches, but then what is the option when you have a two-party system hell bent on doing the opposite of each other to the extreme rather than coming to a common sense solution that compromises and benefits the majority?

      • August 3, 2012 8:57 am

        The democrats had that same lopsided balance in 2009 and 2010. It resulted in a spree of abysmal legislation that will take decades to clean up.

        One of the problems I have with “moderates” is that they seem to actually favor this type of activist government. When government is divided they complain of obstructionism. As if the task of government is to do something – anything, no matter how bad to ameliorate whatever perceived affliction ails us.

        We are in a protracted recession – maybe better labeled a mild depression. We are there because of irresponsible activism by both parties. We have enacted the same political response that has historically resulted in weak or non-existent recoveries. We ignore those measures that have worked in the past.

        Anyone opposed to more of the activism that got us into this mess is an evil heartless ultra conservative.

        The prime benefit of divided government is not compromise. It is political obstruction.
        “That government is best which governs least” – Thomas Jefferson.

    • August 3, 2012 8:42 am

      I find this tendency to label anything to the right of Ralph Nader as ultra-conservative extremist.

      It once again demonstrates “moderate” misperceptions of this country and its people.

      Limited constitutional government and fiscal responsibility were the values of our founders – were they “ultra-conservative” ?
      Even many of the Tea Party values I disagree with were help by our founders.

      If everyone you don’t like gets labeled extremist – that speaks more about you than them.

      I have strong disagreement with Rick Santorum, I find many of his values offensive – extreme. Yet he was elected to the US Senate in a “moderate” state.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    August 3, 2012 10:35 am

    Ah, those funny religious conservatives who make the core of Today’s GOP.:

    Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were looking forward to saying “I do” in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Miss. on July 21. But the day before their Big Day, their pastor told them their wedding had been cancelled.

    Fox 6 in Alabama reports that the couple had booked the church and distributed invitations only to find out that the church’s congregation had decided that the Wilsons, an African American couple, could not tie the knot in their church.

    “The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote [the pastor] out the church,” Charles Wilson told Fox.

    The Wilsons regularly attend the predominantly white church, though they are not members. Watch the video above to learn more.

    Even though the U.S. elected its first African American president in 2008, and the Civil Rights movement was successful more than 40 years ago, the Deep South is still struggling with racism. In March, almost 30 percent of likely GOP voters polled said that they thought interracial marriage should be illegal.

    Well, to today’s modern and with it GOP, wholesome old fashioned family values are still family values, right? Its well known in the GOP heartland that God hates gays and has limited use for minorities, even straight ones, as well.

  8. Anonymous permalink
    August 3, 2012 11:31 am

    Left out of the above article I copied pasted were the critical words “In Mississippi” Very sloppy journalism. Even I, who have a very low opinion of the social values of a huge number of core GOP voters, was having a hard time believing that 30 % of the GOP voters overall believe that interracial marriage should be outlawed..

    This is the actual poll data.

    On Monday, polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) revealed that 29 percent of likely GOP voters surveyed –>in Mississippi <— believe that interracial marriage should be illegal. Fifty-four percent said intermarriage should remain legal, and the rest responded that they weren't sure. The survey also found that 21 percent of likely GOP voters polled in Alabama believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.

    • August 3, 2012 7:41 pm

      Apropos of nothing, Ian, nice to see you back.

    • August 4, 2012 10:06 am

      “Indeed,” said Pooh. “The Hundred-Acre Wood was a somewhat Forlorn and Contentious Place without the enlightened and moderating influence of our witty friend Rabbit.” (For Pooh had been to university and had studied Political Science since we last met him in “House at Pooh Corner.”)

      • Rabbit permalink
        August 5, 2012 9:04 am

        Old Rabbit did a lot of cussin and lost his cool a lot in those days while banging his head against a certain brick wall. I’m not sure that was helpful or moderate! This incarnation of rabbit is staying away from brick walls, that may help.

    • August 6, 2012 6:11 pm

      Alot of people on this website seem to believe it is possible to increase ones standard of living without increasing what is produced.
      And think that everyone to the right of Obama is a racist ultra conservative, …..
      A plurality(49%) of republicans support atleast civil unions for gay couples. I would not have expect that in my lifetime.

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