Monday, April 23, 2012

Introduction to Moderate Politics

The title of this blog refers more to my introduction to what being a moderate voter is about, and not in any way should imply that I have any room to lecture anyone else.  Having considered myself a moderate, or independent, or decline-to-state, voter for a few years now, my intent on this page is to explore -- along with anyone else who might be interested in joining along in the journey, however few, if any, there may be -- what it means to be a Moderate voter in California and the United States.

I'm a firm believer in the marketplace of ideas, where we may toss out our opinions to be assessed and criticized by any others participating in the marketplace.  In the marketplace of ideas, we have the freedom to toss out ideas for consideration by others, for those to respond who wish to, as is their right.  That response may be in the form of thoughtful inquiry, harsh critique, name-calling, or a response somewhere in between or outside of those examples.  If I am critiqued, criticized, or even condemned for opinions I bring to this marketplace, well… that’s how it goes.  It is unfortunate that the ideas marketplace has such incivility, but I choose not to let that fact keep me from entering.  Free speech, guaranteed us in the First Amendment, not only includes my right to express an opinion, but others’ right criticize my opinion, and my right to criticize theirs.

Comment, critique, criticize, but don't be an ass.  There're enough of them in American politics already.  I'm leaning toward the conclusion that most politicians, and political commentators, are really narcissists anyway, able to feed not only on the praise of sycophantic party members, but also on the harsh criticisms of political opponents.  Rush Limbaugh is an excellent example of that point.

We need honest, considered, rational dialogue, not taglines, talking points, and BS.  Discourse is not debate.   If one is looking for a debate, or simply to spew out some existing party line propaganda, please move on to the next blog.

So what is it to be a Moderate?  First, I think its important to understand that terms like Moderate, Independent, Undecided, etc., are not synonymous.  Not all moderates are independents, nor would all undecideds necessarily consider themselves moderates, and all the way around.  The Venn diagram might be heavily overlapping circles, but still distinct groups.  For the sake of simplicity, however, I will generally refer to these groups as the middle.

And within each circle are a myriad of viewpoints, hence the name of this blog.  It seems to be, particularly in California politics, but also nationally, that each party is leaning toward its own extreme.  Bad for those parties, but good for all of us in the middle.

I wager that both parties privately like to label Moderates as fence-sitters, indecisive, wishy-washy... you get the point.  I couldn't disagree more.  The Moderates I know and discuss issues with are clearly focused in their perspective, and are very firm in their beliefs, even passionate.  We just aren't tied to any particular policy idea based on ideology, dogma, or party platform.  Voters in the middle tend to arrive at policy ideas based practical, pragmatic analysis.  "Independent" applies also to our thought process, not just our policy conclusions.

Publicly, both sides, especially the presidential candidates, understand they need the middle voters and will be attempting in the coming weeks and months to pander to us.  This will be interesting to witness, and I'm sure I will have much more to say as these campaigns proceed.

Moderate voters generally tend to fall slightly to the right on fiscal and economic issues, and slightly to the left on social issues.  I personally like to call it Diet Libertarianism, or Libertarianism Light.  Having already annoyed those on the Left and Right, why not piss off the Libs, right??  Working on the assumption that Libertarians generally fall on the far right on fiscal/economic issues, and the far left on social issues, this logic makes sense to me.  I understand I'm painting with a very broad brush, but I don't think there will be too much disagreement, except possibly from the hair-splitters.

In future posts, I will be elaborating on specific policy issues, focusing more the policy ideas I have, why both major parties don't agree, and less on why middle voters might agree.  It would be nearly impossible to try to clarify what a Moderate Party platform might look like, because between red and blue, there are at least a million shades of purple.

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