Sunday, September 13, 2009

Against Political Moderatism

In his long essay on the issues with the Golden State, Troy Senik notes that although the media loves to sympathize with centrism, California's moderates are in fact the most responsible for the state's budget crisis. They make the politically expedient moves characteristic of both sides, never saying no to a spending increase or yes to a tax hike. This stance endears them to the short-term interests of voters but hurts the state in the process.

"Moderate" itself is a tantalizingly vague word. Does it mean that one stands in the middle of Dems and Repubs on all issues, always going for the compromise? Does it mean that one stands on the Dem side on some issues but the Repub side on the other, in around a 50-50 ratio? Or does it mean that one is so free thinking as to be completely untethered to party opinions? Although it is very sexy to call oneself a moderate, we should be wary of those who do so, and especially wary of those who are unable to elaborate on which type of moderate they are.