Return to moderation? As a liberal, I know exactly where I stand on the current issues of the day. I don’t call myself an expert on anything. Others can judge that for themselves. I do know where I stand and I think my readers know that when I write about something I don’t flip a coin to decide what my position is going to be or split the difference. Nor do I look for a position that will offend the least. As someone who’s not currently a politician, I have the freedom to say exactly what I think.
One of the things I love about blogging is that I can get all of the best available objective evidence before I make a judgement about what is in the best interest of the country, or whichever jurisdiction it is involved. If it’s an issue on which I’m confident that I’m well informed, such as civil rights, I can proceed without further research. I would like to think that the average politician operates in the same way but I have my doubts.
When I’m considering voting for someone, especially for the first time, I’m not interested in a candidate who claims to be a moderate or centrist and says vote for me and I’ll work for the best interest of the country, not possibly knowing what that could be ahead of time. Once in office, such politicians can take positions that come as complete surprises to their constituents. I think voters have the right to know where candidates stand on the issues before they get to office. After all, they’re running to represent us.
I especially don’t respect politicians who claim to be moderates or centrists but vote like Liberals or Conservatives. They’re centrists in their private lives but once it gets down to voting or governing their liberalism or conservatism comes out. Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman claims to be a centrist in public but its hard to tell the difference between him and Liberal Democratic Senator John Kerry, one of my political heros, the “Northeast Liberal”. The only issues they’ve disagreed on have been the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sen. Kerry is very proud of his liberalism and Senator Lieberman is not.
Then there’s Senator Arlen Spector who’s admitted to being a Goldwater Libertarian Republican in the past, “Government out of my wallet and bedroom,” and that sort of thing. On domestic policy, Senator Spector tends to be more progressive than Senator Barry Goldwater had ever been, especially in medical research and infrastructure spending. Senator Spector woke up from a Republican nightmare just eighteen months ago, saw the light and decided to become a Democrat again, a liberal Democrat, I might add. (Perhaps it had something to do with getting reelected.)
Senator Spector has a progressive record on civil rights, civil liberties, women’s rights (incluiding reproductive), and gay rights and is as much as a centrist as the current Pope is a Muslim. I mean who did he think he was fooling? Arlen Spector should’ve remained a Democrat for his whole career, especially, in a blue state like Pennsylvania. He could’ve been Governor of Pennsylvania if wanted to.
He, along with Ted Kennedy, voted against Robert Bork for Supreme Court Justice. As a Pennsylvania Democrat, he would’ve never had to worry about a primary challenge from the far right and probably not from the far left either.
I have more respect for Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, Social Democrats, Socialists, Theocrats, and Authoritarians than I have for Centrists. With the former, you know where they stand on the issues, whether you agree with them or not. Two politicians for whom who I have some of the most respect are Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, both Conservative Libertarians, because you knew where they stood and they were loyal to their principles. They didn’t take positions just for presumed political advantage.
Republican Senator Tom Coburn is a Republican for whom I have a lot of respect. He is a true fiscal conservative, not someone who claims fiscal responsibility just because his party is out of power, but someone who’s always been there. I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Jack Kennedy, even though he was a little late to the party on civil rights, but he finally made it. He had clear liberal convictions on most issues. I also have great respect for Jack’s brothers Bobbie and Teddy. They were ahead of their big brother on civil rights.
I have a lot of respect for Liberal Democrat Sen Russ Feingold. I desperately hope that he gets reelected on Tuesday night though it’s not looking good for him. Unfortunately his convictions are probably going to cost him his seat on Tuesday. For Russ Feingold, it’s not about getting reelected. It’s about doing what he believes is best for the State of Wisconsin and America. Today, that might sound corny but it’s true. The problem with Congress is not Sen Russ Feingold, it’s that there are not enough Russ Feingold’s who are willing to vote their convictions. For a lot of members of Congress, everything is about the next election.
Does centrism have a place in politics? I don’t see it as a governing ideology. Could you imagine a centrist as their party’s nominee? First of all, a centrist would never get the presidential nomination of the Democratic or Republican Party today. But, for a second imagine that did happen. What would their campaign theme be? “Vote for me because I’m stuck in the middle trying not to get squashed?”
The problem with Washington is not the lack of moderation. The problem is a lack of bipartisan cooperation. Thats not moderation, thats combining the best from both sides of the aisle to make legislation that works. We as a country have a long tradition of bipartisanship and we could use more of it today. What you get with moderation is splitting the difference. A computer can do that and it’s not Leadership.