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3/01/2005

Moderates piss me off

A lot of folks make it a point to declare themselves moderates, politically speaking, as if this were synonymous with having good sense. I don't understand this. It might make sense in a different context--say, one in which the two major American political parties really did represent opposing extremes. But this is not the situation we presently face in the U.S., and to say otherwise is just to be dishonest.

In reality, of course, the Republicans and Democrats represent a very narrow ideological range. In the fantasy world of the mainstream media and of some right-wingers, Howard Dean is a "radical leftist," but a mere moment's reflection should suffice to demonstrate how preposterous that notion is.

Radical politics do have a place in mainstream political discourse--radical right politics, that is. BushCo has already embraced a kind of quasi-fascism, and increasingly authoritarian attitudes are gaining currency among Bushists.

But the Democrats, of course, share a portion of the blame for the deeds of the Bush administration, because at almost every step of the way they have been the GOP's enablers--especially after Sept. 11, 2001.

So the possibility of squeezing yourself into the middle ground, with Republicans to your right and Democrats to your left, is already dubious. This is why it pisses me off when people like the Bull Moose say things like this:

Lately, a prime target of the scorn of the left-wing bloggers has been Joe Lieberman. The Moose is particularly partial to Joe, because if he belonged to a party, it would be the McCain-Lieberman Party ... Like McCain, Lieberman is not afraid to buck party orthodoxy which makes him the bane of the lefty ideologues. They both will work across the aisle to get things done ...

...

Yes, lefties may disagree with Joe from time to time on foreign or economic policy. But, like most Americans outside the blogosphere, Lieberman is not tediously predictable.

Both the Moose and the Senator graze in the vital center.


Okay, first of all, what a tool.

Second, what is it with Democrats' continued fascination with John McCain?? This is someone who has strongly supported every aspect of Bush's "war on terror," the Patriot Act, and the aggression against Iraq, and who enthusiastically campaigned for Bush during last year's election season. What exactly is appealing about this?

Third, the reason why Lieberman is not "tediously predictable" is because he has no fucking principles. Since when is "predictable" a vice for a politician? Wouldn't we rather see leaders with strong moral convictions from which they never waiver? Does the Bull Moose think that a politician's job is to provide him with amusement?

Recently, a right-wing blogger complained that

you can scan a few headlines over your morning cup of coffee and forecast the sources of the day’s liberal blog outrage with near-perfect accuracy.

And why, exactly, is this a bad thing? If someone is fair and consistent in their application of ethical principles, it is not surprising that their reaction to a given act will be, well, not surprising.

Maybe the idea is that only "radicals" have strong ethical beliefs; better to be a wishy-washy moderate "pragmatist."

In a different context, Martin Luther King expressed a similar frustration:


I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.


(from King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." My emphasis.)

The next time you hear from someone that the right answer always lies somewhere in the middle, think of these words, and think about what being a "moderate" really means, and what it always has meant: a commitment to the preservation of the status quo.

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