Friday, November 21, 2008

Moderation

Let's talk extremes.

Political extremes, that is.

"Polarized" is a word that is being thrown around a lot lately to describe our country's political climate. The middle ground is ignored more now than ever before, according to the worriers. If there is any hope for the country, we have to return to a spirit of bi-partisanship. In fact, both presidential candidates bragged an awful lot about wanting to "reach across the aisle" and appeal to "moderates" and independents.

Hmmm... moderates and independents, eh? Middle of the road'ers.

Okay, while all the socialists and their army of useful idiots are busy congratulating themselves on beating that ultra right-wing extremist, John McCain, let us take a moment to consider this middle thing that everyone seems so enamored with.

I suppose we start by asking just what the heck a "moderate" really is. Now, I've thought through this one for a long time, because it just seems so damned nice of a concept on the surface. I mean, who could vilify someone who's just a thoughtful person trying to avoid those "extremist" views? After all, moderates are people who just want to get along, right? They seek only the sweet utopia of rapport and compromise.

~~ "From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned." --Charles Sumner ~~

I'm not sure that compromise is really the only grease that slicks the moderate's engine. Somehow, that definition doesn't work for me. No, compromisers usually are calculating and/or cowardly individuals who know full-well what they want. I've seen too many schemers and cowards who use compromise like chess moves.

~~ "I'm a compromiser and a maneuverer. I try to get 'something.' That's the way our system works." --Lyndon B. Johnson ~~

Compromise is, by itself, a tasty subject for a lengthy essay. It is the buzzword that gets people feeling all warm and squishy inside, while its real essence is too often concealed by the feel-good wrapping.

~~ "Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another--too often ending in the loss of both." --Tryon Edwards ~~

So, I think we have to say that for the purposes of our discussion, compromisers do not necessarily equal moderates. Although, it is fair to say that moderates will use compromise-- even wearing it as a badge of honor at times. In fact, compromise is a key tool in the moderate's limited storehouse. Still, there's more to the definition of a moderate than that.

I found a website that is all about the glory of being a moderate. Here's a proud exclamation I found there: "We moderates are suspicious of certainty."

Now that really stuck with me. I mean, here you have people who are very proud to say that they are never certain about anything. As if it is a virtue to walk around in a perpetual state of gray fog... happily moving from one issue to the next without the burden of actually forming a view on it.

~~ "I’d rather argue with a leftist than a centrist any day. The leftist at least has a structure to push against. Arguing with a ‘moderate’ is like snot wrestling." --Quote seen on the Internet ~~

This made me wonder whether the moderate's uncertainty is due to being uninformed (as opposed to misinformed, as is the case with many of the aforementioned useful idiots), either intentionally or just because he or she lacks the time or desire to study issues. If it is not a case of being uninformed, then that would mean that the moderate is informed, but then still refuses to make a decision. I would like to think that it is the former, as the latter would indicate a much deeper character problem, would it not? Still, we'll consider both.

Let's start with the argument that the moderate is not certain because he is uninformed. A very useful example of this would be the abortion debate. Most moderates take the pro-abortion side, saying that no one really knows exactly when life begins.

Take our new President-Elect, for example: he famously said that the knowledge of when life begins is "above his pay grade." So, for the sake of argument, this admittedly makes him uninformed about when life begins. In the context of the abortion issue, this is certainly the main and crucially important point. Since we are talking about human life, would it not be the definition of prudence to err on the side of caution and not destroy the thing? Even if you're not sure... I mean, just in case, you know? Is this not especially true when we are talking about a man who will have tremendous influence on this subject?

To review, our new President-Elect feigns ignorance by stating that he does not know if life begins at conception. Given that point, now consider the fact that he is a vociferous supporter of abortion. This is most certainly not erring on the side of caution.

*** WARNING: AYN RAND QUOTES AHEAD. MAY CAUSE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN SOME PEOPLE. ESPECIALLY MODERATES. ***


~~ "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality is to sanction it." --Ayn Rand ~~

Now, how about those who claim to be informed and believe that life begins at conception, but are still pro-abortion? (In fairness, they much prefer the more aesthetic sounding "pro-choice." As for me, I'm okay with either "pro-life" or "anti-abortion," since they are both true.) In these ranks we find the moderates who love to say "I would never do it myself, but I won't force my beliefs on anyone else." Now that is a powerfully moral statement, isn't it? Really shows the deep conviction of the person uttering it. No judgment here-- only a respect for everyone else's beliefs. The very essence of Americanism, wouldn't you say? Well... maybe not so much.

~~ "The real moral precept to adopt...is: Judge, and be prepared to be judged." --Ayn Rand ~~

To see something as intrinsically wrong-- even immoral-- and then to say that you wouldn't judge others for it is to say that there are no metaphysical rights or wrongs... there are only "personal values." What is wrong for me is right for you. One man's crime is another man's daily ritual. Now, that is a world we all want to live in, isn't it? Oh, wait... that is a world we are already living in-- at least almost.

These moderates apparently treasure the thought of a society whose moral foundation is more of a mosaic patchwork of shifting mores and values. Moral equivalency and multiculturalism are doctrines that forbid judgment and eschew civilized principles and standards of behavior. So, the good moderate is only being true to the ways of the world when he says he won't expect others to tow a moral line.

~~ "There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible." --Ayn Rand ~~

Aside from the difficult "moral" issues, there are plenty of other things that our intrepid moderate will want to be in the middle of (positionally speaking, of course). Whether it's taxation, welfare, foreign policy, or immigration, the moderate wants desperately to avoid taking a side that could be labeled as extreme. The fact is, moderates who walk down the middle of the road are usually crushed by those with direction moving on the left and right sides of the road.

This really brings us squarely back into the uninformed-versus-informed discussion. What my life journey has shown me, above all else, is that there really is a right and a wrong. Good surely does exist, and so does evil. The more I know about an issue, the more I am able to decide for myself where I stand on it. If I don't know much about an issue, my inclination would not be to say "oh, both sides must have a point." My inclination is always to say either "I need to learn about that and form an opinion," or "I really don't care about that issue and so I will stay completely out of it."

The latter statement, of course, is a luxury reserved for us peons, and is not really an option for elected leaders who are supposed to know and care about issues. If I don't want to take the time to learn the intricacies of a bill on medical record privacy concerns, then that is not really a problem. For the legislator who is to vote on it, though, it is vital to learn all he can of the issue, then hold it up to his personal principles compass (everyone does have one of those, don't they?) to see how he should vote. To do otherwise is to be either a hack who sells his vote, or simply a fool-- and both of these are dangerous.

So, where does this leave the highly respected moderate? Clearly, it leaves him out in the intellectual and moral cold. I see a moderate as someone lacking either the courage or the conviction-- or both-- to lead a principled life. I see in the moderate a person for whom "getting along" is preferable to doing what is right.

Most moderates are just normal people who think that being in the center is a noble and good thing. The reason they think that is because they are, by their very noncommittal nature, unable-- or unwilling-- to think deeply about things. They have been spoon fed multi-cultural pablum by the media for their whole life, and they eat it up because, frankly, it is easier than taking the time and effort to dissect issues and form positions.

At the top of this piece, I made a comment about "ultra right-wing extremist John McCain." Now, to me and most anyone on the right side of things, this is a patently facetious comment. To the socialists and the useful idiots, though, it is true. There are actually people-- not joking here-- who say that McCain lost because he is too Conservative. He should have been more moderate. He should have picked a more moderate VP candidate. He should have tried harder to appeal to moderates. Yes, they say this with a straight face. To make this even better, many of the people saying this claim to be Republicans. Yep... seriously.

There is a very (very) simple equation to consider here. It is an empirical truth that anytime a democrat "runs to the center" in a national election, he wins; and anytime a Republican "runs to the center" in a national election, he loses. Let that soak in for a minute. It clearly says that for someone who is seen as "left" to move to the right is a good thing-- and for someone who is seen as "right" to move to the left is a bad thing.

The reason for this is that, in spite of the media usurpation of our collective world-view, America remains very much a center-right nation. That is precisely because right and wrong do exist and that knowledge is built into our DNA. The equivocating position of not "forcing my beliefs on someone else" is purely a product of the left's media sponsored all-out assault on societal virtue. People still hold their values strongly, for the most part, but they have been whipped relentlessly into thinking they are intolerant for having those values-- and if they don't want to be labeled as xenophobicly racist gender criminals, then they had better keep that value stuff to themselves, by God (oops... by gosh).

There. We've hit the truth of it. There is how a moderate is born. He is a person who has decided that the left is correct in saying that expressing belief in a principle is tantamount to intolerance. How great the irony that the most intolerant of all are those very voices crying "intolerance!"

Choosing a favorite Ayn Rand quote is virtually impossible for me, but one passage does stand out... and if forced, I might say it is my favorite. I shall close with it, since it is certainly germane to this discussion.


~~ "There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." --Ayn Rand (John Galt's Speech) ~~
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5 Comments:

Blogger Barbara said...

The first thing that came to my mind while reading this was that a moderate straddles the fence, so to speak. And you know what the Word says about that - He had rather us be hot or cold, and not lukewarm (moderate); otherwise, he will spew us out of his mouth.

I'm conservative, so I guess you can say I'm a right winger. :) I'm not tolerate of the left-wingers, either. And, I don't think it's to our advantage to appease those on the wrong side of the aisle. To me, that's just another way of straddling the fence!

21/11/08 22:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything. - Alexander Hamilton

That's what came to my mind while reading this post.

Also, it brought back memories of my mother, upon finding out that I had reregistered as a Republican, telling my teenaged son that, "There are two sides to every story" and "The truth lies somewhere in the middle."

After I got over my anger with my mother, I had to explain to my son what was wrong with those two statements.

OMG, I'm going to leave it at that. A flood of emotions are coming back to me now.

SAJ

22/11/08 05:25  
Blogger kmg said...

Barbara, you make a great point. I'm absolutely sure that the Good Lord does not want us wondering around without conviction.

SAJ, I feel your pain on that. We have had some interesting family moments this year... and it does bring out some very strong emotion.

Thanks to you both for the time and the comments. Good to have you out here again.

22/11/08 06:14  
Anonymous J-Dog said...

Yeah moderate just means, "One who's too spineless to decide." A moderate is like the bad guy's minion in movies; sure, he starts out with Lord Evil Pants, but when Super Good Guy wins, he's suddenly begging to join the right team. Grrr...and he's always the one you want to strangle with his own intestines. Ayn is right, at least I can respect Voldemort for being pure evil, but Peter Pettigrew back and forth---I'LL KILL HIM!!

23/11/08 22:50  
Blogger kmg said...

Interestingly executed political analysis, J-Dog. Hard to argue with that!

24/11/08 05:49  

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