03 Jan 2011

Myth of the Mushy Moderate Partially Our Own Fault

Gordon Chaffin, on over at Voice of Moderation, has a bitter pill for moderates – that has a lot of truth to it:

We moderates get attacked as part of the “mushy middle” partly because few of us ever stick up for ourselves. That’s got to change right now! We’ve got to respond with the same kind of intensity that the poles of the political spectrum often feature. I don’t mean that we start throwing hyper-charged, overly-exaggerated rhetoric around.

I mean that we should start organizing and standing up for the silent majority of Americans who care more about progress than the score of the never-ending Red-Blue Deathmatch that plays itself out every day in Washington. We need to start rising from the grassroots from across the country – leveraging the wonderful work of groups like No Labels, the Third Way, The Tuesday Group, and the Blue Dog Caucus.

(Bold mine)

I echo these thoughts regularly on this blog. Thankfully, organizations are finally rising up to take up this challenge, which is why I called this blog Rise of the Center (and not Mainstream Current, the working name I was using up until about two weeks before I launched).

Movements generally form when segments of a population can’t stand something any longer. This is why you saw the rise of left wing groups like MoveOn during the years when Bush and the Republicans took the country further to the right, and the rise of right wing groups like the Tea Party as Obama has taken the country farther to the left. But the same thing seems to be happening now, as both parties are moving farther away from the center, while at the same time just plain doing a terrible job of governing.

As good as it is to point out where the two major parties are going wrong, not following that up with working towards alternatives doesn’t accomplish much, if anything at all. With the rise of No Labels, its time for people who have been railing on the two major parties over the last few years to put their money where their mouths have been.

Author Details
After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
×
After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

10 thoughts on “Myth of the Mushy Moderate Partially Our Own Fault”

    1. I think bloggers should just speak from where they are. Don't filter down to sound less combative if you're on this site… each site has a different range of tones. I like a bit combative, but not raging… there are centrist wingnuts/zealots too, all the way to the more academic stuff some contributors bring, which is great too. Room for all of it.

          1. A bit combative but not unreasonably so, and with more sarcastic wit than the wingers can usually muster, followed up with simple logic. That's the way to stop your debate opponents in their tracks.

  1. I think that if you don't want to be spun as a mushy moderate, don't call yourself a moderate. Or a centrist. It's bad branding…it brings with it the notion that one is willing to always split the difference, average out the high points.

    In the context of the dominance of the two major parties, I think "independent" is really the best brand. It signals a willingness to think for oneself, to think outside the constraints of limited partisan vision, and it rejects the idea that the best course on any issue is necessarily some sort of 50-50 compromise.

    If you class yourself as an independent, you can always easily escape any sort of "mushy moderate" noose that a partisan is trying to tie round you. The mushy moderate claim is always followed up by the slander that you lack real principles or committments or ideals. But that argument can always be beaten by an enunciation of principles that stand in contrast to the common sins of the existing parties.

    Independents need to embrace rejection of partisan vision. Something like "no labels" sounds timid to me. It says "let's not offend anyone or use any bad words." Instead, we want to speak boldly, with real passion. Let's skip the idea that we can transcend labels and just come up with good words that work, that inspire, that persuade, that point out the 3rd way.

    My casual estimate of the ranks is as follows. Roughly a 3rd of Americans identifies as independent. But within that third, only a third has actually managed to, say, vote for more than one party more than once fora major office like governor, congressman, President. This roughly 11% of the people really can see that both sides are capable of making good points, and has supported one party or the other based on an independent assessment of merit.

    That's the viable population of the only train that is really going to be able to leave the station and reach a destination of better candidates who represent regular folks first and not partisans and powerful special interests.

    Cranky Critter

    1. Hey cranky.

      Interesting points (for recent data see this link: http://www.gallup.com/poll/145463/Democratic-Part….

      I agree – moderate does not need to mean compromise between what the two sides give us, or what a common sense political party can do. If you can accept that, how can one coalesce independent-thinking people into some "third way" force to be taken seriously? That's the real question. That is my main focus and has been for a long, long time, but I still have no answer. Anyway, I will keep trying.

      1. We need candidates to vote for. So we need to keep voting sometimes for one side and sometimes the other, so that we'll be seen and pandered to as the real deciders, as the folks whose votes really are up for grabs. If so-called independents act like reliable democrats or republicans, voting always for one side, the system will treat us based on our voting actions, not our claimed ideals.

        I think we are going to see more independent national candidates emerge and get elected in 2012. If 11% of congresscritters were not affiliated with or beholden to either party, I think this would fundamentally effect how congress worked.

        I don't think we need or want another party, that's the antithesis of independence. I don't even think we need the rise of a center per se, just the rise of legitimate independent thought and a concurrent decline of the dominance of the two parties.

        Our job is to add more jokers to the deck.

Leave a Reply