Part 1 of this topic ends with a question: Just what are the moderates who are in America’s political center?
A correct description of America’s political moderates are in the writings of moderates Rick Bayan, Steven Merritt Seibert and Charles Wheelan.
In An Open Letter to Moderates, Bayan writes the following:
Extremists to the right of us, extremists to the left of us! Hold the center, friends! We’re all that stands between the angry, embattled white conservatives and the angry, militant multiculti leftists. They’re intent on obliterating each other, and they won’t make life especially agreeable for us, either.
Of course, we moderates have always been a buffer between the right and left. That’s our lot. But the extremist camps have been swelling with angry partisans while the sane center has been deteriorating like a middle-class retiree’s investment portfolio.
. . . Seduced by willfully slanted cable news, identity politics and online amen corners, Americans have spent the new millennium splitting into opposing and mutually hostile factions.
. . . What can we do as moderates to reverse this lamentable trend? First of all, we need to reclaim our turf and protect it from erosion. Too long have we been caricatured as timid, vanilla, noncommittal milquetoasts, incapable of taking a stand. Too long have we watched in silence as both the right and left generated the kind of moral heat that radicalizes and fanaticizes their followers. We need to generate moral heat ourselves – the right kind of moral heat – the kind that shuns hatred and appeals to our better angels.
. . . Classic moderates believe there are at least two legitimate sides to most issues. Unlike the partisans, we believe it’s both unwise and unfair to embrace one side before considering the other. We might eventually take sides, but we’ve done our homework. More often, we seek and find grounds for compromise.
. . . When we’re willing to look at both sides of an issue, we reject the rigidity of partisan thinking. With care and insight, we can hammer out nuanced solutions that might not satisfy either camp but won’t provoke bloodshed, either. That’s the essence of moderate politics, and it probably explains why we find it harder to attract warm bodies in a polarized climate. Polarized minds love absolute certainty, and we offer complexity. We don’t have an ideology; we simply have ideas.”
In their article Moderates and Centrists are Mad as Hell at Both Parties, Seibert and Wheelan give an additional description of moderates:
“In 1787, the 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin harbored many concerns about the proposed Constitution and had argued vigorously for provisions that did not make the final draft. Yet, in the final hours of debate at the Constitutional Convention, Franklin urged his colleagues “who may still have objections to it … to doubt a little of their own infallibility” and adopt an excellent, if imperfect, document.
Being moderate is a personality trait. It is how one understands the motivations of others and how one solves problems. A moderate is a realist, accepting how people are, not how we would like them to be. A moderate is open to listening to the truths of others.
Franklin’s display of moderation and profound humility persuaded others to compromise enough to create this country. Yet today, the very qualities that gave us such strength at our founding have been maligned by extreme positions, leading to political paralysis and a dismal failure to solve the pressing problems of our time.
The insidious allegation that has crept into America’s political ego is that moderates lack principles. They seek only to split the difference between the positions taken by their noble opponents and adopt mediocre solutions. That is both wrong and dangerous.
Moderates value humility over party, and even over ideology, because they seek first to solve problems. “The greatness of America,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, “lies in her ability to repair her faults.”
How do we address our long-term fiscal challenges, confront global terrorism, repair a tattered immigration system, reduce health care costs? We demand that our elected representatives act with the moderation befitting a diverse country of 330 million people. Moderation is no weakness; after all, the Constitution is a pretty darn good document.”