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The Issues

Explore the Issues from Three Sides

Here we debate the larger issues behind the everyday news stories. Just click on each issue in the column at right to see the prevailing conservative (red) and leftist (blue) arguments, followed by the supremely sensible New Moderate (purple) position. 

  • Righty is our hypothetical right-winger. He’s probably a middle-aged white Christian male, a loyal middle manager, definitely a churchgoer, educated at the state university, married to the same white Christian woman since college, father of two white Christian children, resolutely suburban, and a diehard member of the vanishing middle-middle class.
  • Lefty is our model left-winger: middle-aged, possibly male or female (we’re not sure about Lefty), director of a nonprofit organization as well as adjunct professor at an urban university, a self-proclaimed atheist, privately educated, divorced, resident of a fashionable downtown neighborhood, and unmistakably upper-middle class in manner and social connections.

Righty and Lefty are more than foils. Yes, sometimes I’ve caricatured their ideas for our amusement, but just as often I’ve put impassioned and well-articulated arguments into their mouths. Remember, not all conservative and liberal ideas are nonsense. They’re just extreme.

My New Moderate opinions reflect the biases and preoccupations of their author, and they’re  mine alone. (If they’re also yours, so much the better!) I don’t pretend to represent all moderates or pose as a model of moderation in all things. Some of my ideas might strike you as radical, reactionary, over-the-top or downright embarrassing, and that’s fine. (I like to take intellectual risks.) Yet you’ll note that nearly all my arguments spring from moderate impulses. I’m a relentless seeker of balance in our political and cultural attitudes. I hate to see any one group tilt the pinball machine to gain an unfair advantage.
When you’re done reading these opinions, be sure to give us your own!  Write as much and as often as you want — it’s your forum! I’ll keep adding new hot-button issues to the list, so be sure to return regularly and catch up on the debate. I look forward to counting you among our growing band of impassioned New Moderates. 
14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2009 2:57 pm

    Although you are a great writer, your Lefty, Righty characters lack the zeal of true believers in those positions. Perhaps, Balzac or Dostoevsky could pull it off, maybe.
    Could you get guest writers sometimes for bigger issues; it would be interesting and might provide the New Moderate a greater challenge in the debate.

    • October 9, 2009 5:25 pm

      dduck: I have to admit it was fun to play puppeteer in these 3-way debates. You don’t think Righty and Lefty sound zealous enough? Hmm, I didn’t want them to sound like crazed, certifiable fanatics ALL the time; sometimes I actually let them make persuasive points. But you’re right that an honest-to-God 3-way debate would be more challenging.

      Someday, when my site is as big as Huffington Post (cough, cough), I could hire a REAL Righty and Lefty to spout their ideologies here. But what self-respecting ideologue would be willing to serve as the foil to a staunch moderate? Maybe if they think they can win… that’s the ticket!

      Good comment… thanks!

  2. October 9, 2009 5:33 pm

    Some people might volunteer if asked once in awhile. Perhaps Moore has a brother who sometimes runs low on pain killers for his bad back or Beck might have a cousin, who would be willing to leave the target range for a quick 300 word essay.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    June 4, 2012 2:27 am

    Legal gun use prevents violent crime

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 4, 2012 9:25 am

    Anon, Violent crime prevents use of peace

  5. Musher permalink
    October 31, 2012 9:35 am

    I am excited to find your site. I am a small newspaper publisher in the eastern part of Utah and being a moderate in Utah is one of the hardest things in the world because it is the reddest and most conservative state in the nation. I am surrounded by Tea Baggers who want to only listen to one side, their side. LIke you have stated being a moderate means that a person has some views on the left and some on the right, and I am not without my right sided views. I think think two issues that ought to be on your list to address (unless i have just missed them) are gun rights and land use. Since you live in the east (and most people east of Colorado know little about federal land problems in the west where the national government owns up to 80 percent of the land in some states) land issues out here are a big deal. Anyway thanks for the site and I am going to continue to stay with you. I really believe (and have been thinking about it for a long time) about forming a moderate political party. In that vein I wish John Huntsman was the Republican nominee, because as governor of this state he was great and even handed. He is a moderate in most things.

    • October 31, 2012 12:24 pm

      Thanks, Musher. I liked Huntsman, too. In fact, I wrote a column about him almost exactly a year ago. (See “Jon Huntsman and the Munsters,” Nov. 2, 2011.)

      I sympathize with your lonely plight out in Utah. And thanks for the suggested topics: I was going to add a 3-way debate on gun control (among other issues), but I know nothing about land use — other than the fact that so much land out West is under federal control.

      So many of us moderates (including me) have argued for the creation of a third party… everyone tells me that it would be extremely difficult to launch as a major rival to the current duopoly. I was hoping that the Tea Party might split from the GOP, but instead they’ve cannibalized it. A third party might work if it could run a really appealing candidate in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt… are there any Teddy Roosevelts out there?

    • The not-so-grand Wazzoo permalink
      October 31, 2012 12:34 pm

      Hey Musher, you are a brave soul. If you have time to spare and the inclination, please join the conversation on the recent topics such as the most recent Final Debate topic. Militant extreme libertarians and conservatives usually dominate the discussion and chase the moderates out. But please be careful, its addictive and can be a time drain!

  6. Musher permalink
    November 1, 2012 9:52 am

    Yes Wazzoo, right wingers always try to drive others away so they cannot be heard. And you are right about these kinds of boards being a time drain. Rick, if you would be interested I would put together some talking points on land use in the west. In short the far right literally would want to plunder, tear up and sell every piece of federal property they could if they had the power to do so. They are so interested in development and dollars that they can’t see what that would do to the west. The far left wants to turn it all into wilderness, so much so that there would be places you couldn’t even backpack to. The Utah Legislature passed a bill last session to file suit against the Feds concerning the Enabling Act in which they say the Feds promised to turn over all the land they owned in Utah to the state soon after statehood (1896). The Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the National Park Service (We have five national parks in our state and a number of national monuments) all have their problems, but I would much rather have it in their hands than in the hands of our wacko right wing leaders in Utah. Many here act as if the BLM personnel are an occupying army. It is that way in many western states including Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming along with Utah. Anyway, it is an issue all the American people should be concerned about because everyone owns that land. It is a convoluted issue between recreation, energy development, the lumber industry, local governments, environmentalists, etc. etc. etc. This is an issue where moderation definitely needs to be considered.

  7. T. McGuigan permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:40 pm

    Yeah, damn those “white christian” folks, lol. There is nothing wrong with whiteness, or Christian-ness for that matter. How moderate of you to imply that either of these are at best undesireable, or at worst, negative traits. Sounds like something a leftist would imply, to me at least.

    • March 17, 2013 12:04 am

      I recommend that you read the “White People” debate again, and remember that Lefty’s opinion isn’t mine. I said nothing against white people… on the contrary, I’m genuinely concerned about their demographic decline. I just said that white people need to look after their interests without resorting to racism.

  8. Ron permalink
    November 19, 2013 12:55 pm

    There are so many issues that have become greatly polarized because both sides of the issue are afraid to give up any ground … So it’s all or nothing. For example: abortion: I can see both sides of this argument. I can see that some people see it as murder. And I can see that some people see it as a woman’s right to choose. Both points of view are valid. But our nation is split almost 50/50. Maybe this should be a state issue instead of a national issue. That way a person could live in the state whose laws they agree with … Rather than forcing 49% of the people to abide by laws written by 51% of the people.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    November 19, 2013 2:01 pm

    This is an unhappy time for a “moderate” when we see both sides of an issue. That puts us in the useless middle.

  10. Joyce permalink
    November 5, 2016 9:23 pm

    I don’t see here your definition of moderate. What left ideas? What right ideas? One person suggested land use rights, which is anything but moderate. If one wants land use rights, then give the land back to native Americans. No one on the left wants to get rid of the 2nd Amendment, but they do want to make it very hard for terrorists or criminals to get access to weapons…this seems like a middle road to take.

    Leftys don’t like abortion either, but a government shouldn’t be in the business of telling a person what to do with their bodies. How about teaching about birth control starting in grammar school? How about making birth control easily available to low income women and men?

    What are some of the righties ideas that make sense for moderates?

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