There’s No Such Thing as a Moderate / We Are All Extremists

Okay, with campaign season ramping up in earnest, we’re going to be hearing a lot of people talking about how moderate and sensible and middle-of-the-road they are, and how exxxxtreeeeeeeeeme! the other guy is. We’re going to be hearing the word “extreme” so much, it’ll make the X-Games look like a Baby Einstein video. So I thought this would be a good time to revisit the subject of moderates and extremists.

Everybody wants to consider themselves moderate, because “moderate” in today’s political parlance is taken to mean thoughtful, reasonable, above the elbow-throwing fray of partisan politics. This is as opposed to “extremist,” which is defined as a raving lunatic who would set orphans on fire to advance a political agenda. Since everybody wants to identify as a moderate, candidates spend a lot of effort trying to appeal to moderates in an effort to soak up all those thoughtful, moderate votes.

However, this whole “moderate” thing is pure, self-congratulatory nonsense. There is no moderate political philosophy that guides how people live their lives. Nobody studies the writings of history’s great moderates. Saying you’re a moderate is just shorthand for, “I want to sound like I’m involved in politics, but I’m too lazy to actually look stuff up.” As I said in a previous post:

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?

Now understand, I have no beef with anyone who doesn’t care about politics. It’s my greatest hope that we will one day live in a world where politics is so unimportant that nobody has to care about it, and I will defend to the death your right to be apathetic today. But if you’re going to be apathetic, don’t act like that makes you wiser than all the people who are actually trying to take a stand on the issues and win the argument for their side. If you care about an issue, you’re going to want to win. Extremely.

Side note: To understand where dedicated moderates are in relation to everybody else, let’s take another look at my handy diagram of the American political landscape. First, here’s the balance of political opinion as depicted in the media and accepted by most people:

And here’s what it really looks like: