For the last two or three or ten election cycles, the most cherished prize of every candidate has be the “independent” or “moderate” voter. This fabulous creature lives in the vast steppes between Heartless Grasping Republicanburg and Outhouse-Rat Looney Democratistan, and therefore have been unaffected by the political brain fevers that are rampant in both places. In fact, the moderate is the kindest, wisest, most sensible of all creatures, and for all the attention that reporters, pollsters, and politicians give them, they are apparently also plated in pure gold.
Unaffiliated moderates even have a well-financed opportunity to affiliate themselves with other unaffiliated moderates through the “No Labels” movement (eviscerated by George Will here), so somebody considers the unorganized so valuable that they’re trying to organize them.
The only problem is this: political moderates don’t really exist.
Everyone is moderate about things he doesn’t care about. No one is moderate about things he does care about. Saying “I’m moderate about (blank)” is the same thing as saying “I don’t care about (blank).” If you claim to care about something, how could you also claim to be moderate about it and maintain any intellectual consistency?
Not that intellectual consistency is a high priority among the moderate. Can anyone even state a moderate position on anything in a coherent way? What’s a moderate position on, say, crime? Criminals should be punished, but not much? What’s a moderate position on the constitution? Parts of it should be strictly, absolutely followed, but other parts should be ignored completely?
The only reason the moderate label exists in political culture is because of pride. People like to think themselves sophisticated. They see elbow-throwing political fights waged by slimy snake oil salesmen on both sides, and they want to consider themselves above all that.
Fighting for what you believe may seem like a dirty business sometimes, but for people who think they’re above getting involved in the conflict between right and wrong, I have this:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
There’s nothing holy, or even worthwhile, about moderating your values.