Why it’s Good to be a Moderate

Driving into Dallas, there was, not long ago, a billboard with a picture of W, and it said, “Miss me yet?” My answer? God help us, no. You were a miserable president then, and your freakin’ bad legacy has just screwed up the economy again. W, Give your paid speeches, and be a private citizen.

The Republican record of late recalls a president who went too far towards his base, and the economy is testimony to what happened. Standard and Poor’s downgraded US credit because of partisan (a.k.a., Tea Party) bickering, not because of the size of the debt, not because of taxes or entitlements. It was a slap to say to congress, “You juveniles should grow up.”

Would I like Obama to please his base, and fight fire with fire, so to speak? Nope. In short, I trust left-leaning strategies to improve the world more than the other kind, but I simply do not trust extremes. Polarized politics sucks. Bill Clinton got the same criticism in his day, when he steered down a via media too. The welfare reform act smelled very republican. So it was with many other things he did. He’s the one who said, “The era of big government is over.” Anyone who has gotten over Monica Lewinski would say he left a pretty good legacy, and way better eco9nomy than W did.

There will always be people on the wings of politics, with both sides (or more sides) claiming their methods, their economic theories, their version of whose rights to protect, their academic heroes are the Way. I do see the world as a bell curve, and I do believe in a via media. I believe in roughly equal numbers of people on both sides being disappointed.

Any point of view that involves “my way or the highway,” should get off the road. Moderates who can’t listen are as bad as the wingers. And should the way I see it have transpired during the debt limit debate, I truly believe we would have kept our lending status, and the stock market would be more stable, trending up.

I will now criticize the extremes by shooting toward what I see as the middle. We need some tax restoration, and it should come from the wealthiest citizens, and from companies that are not playing by the spirit (and of course, the letter, too) of the system. We should increase out sin tax as well. We should find and remove waste and fat in entitlement programs. We should reform education, so that it empowers teachers and students. We should allow people to unionize, but treat workers so well that unions are less needed. We should reward healthy people, and discourage unhealthy behavior. We should regulate business to protect the environment, avoid robber-baron behavior, and give no incentive to gild the management. Immigration rules should be fair, enforceable and enforced, and encourage a good economy with fairly paid workers. Policies that help the middle class are fundamentally good. We should “trust, but verify” the actions of government, and allow that sometimes government is not the solution. There are problems with the systems that the political wings have – waste and misuse in government programs, and corruption and power abuse in an unchecked market.

There are people in every side, we need to acknowledge that. To make enemies and argue a lot is politics that gets nowhere, and ticks off the electorate.

I am an aggressive moderate. I think open minded people without blinders on either side should get to work and take some leadership. I want Obama to do that. Sometimes he has not, granted. He let the right dominate the public debate, for one. But his leadership should not be to simply out-shout the other side, but to out-smart anyone who is simply wrong and insists on putting principles over pragmatism.

I am not advocating to simply split to the middle whenever given a choice. Nor am I saying to “be proud and average.” Thinking people are not lemmings, nor married to ideology. They should know better, and consider both sides. Fear mongering, false references, management by rumour, all are signs of incompetence. Maybe the wings would yell so loudly, or resort to vain bogusness, if they knew they were being heard. If the Tea Party has shifted the debate toward the right, there’s nothing wrong with Progressives countering that, but we all have a duty to identify falsehood and idiocy, a plethora of which we are witnessing these days.

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About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
This entry was posted in Longer posts on large themes, Politics and Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

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