Muddle in the middle

“Moderate” is kind of a bad word around elections, especially this election. Chris Lawrence, who describes himself as “College professor and all-around troublemaker,” once said this:

Most Americans — and most people the world over, in fact — don’t have consistent, ideological belief systems. The absence of those belief systems makes them moderate, because they just react to whatever’s going on in the political ether; if you’re lucky, you might be able to pin their beliefs to some overarching fundamental value (“hard work”, “equality”, “liberty”).

There are only two types of true moderate: people who don’t care about politics, and centrist politicians (and this latter class of people generally care less about politics than they care about keeping their jobs — I defy you to explain the behavior of Arlen Specter or Olympia Snowe otherwise).

I aspire to be a person who does not care about politics, although politics, damn it, persists in caring about me, or at least in pretending to do so. Still, if there’s such baggage attached to “moderate,” maybe I need a new word. How about “centrist”? Does “centrist” work for me?

Hmmm. It has potential.

(Via Will Truman.)


  1. McGehee »

    6 April 2016 · 6:31 pm

    I’ll know I’m truly centrist when every politician and political opinion pisses me off equally.

    On the other hand (goodness, what a moderate thing to say!), I’ve opined that the goal of conservatism is a government so small we can all stop obsessing about politics.

  2. Lynn »

    7 April 2016 · 7:26 am

    I’m an anti-dichotomist. I believe there are more than just two ways of looking at things.

  3. McGehee »

    7 April 2016 · 12:56 pm

    Lord knows there are more than two wrong ways.

  4. canadienne »

    8 April 2016 · 3:52 pm

    Agree with Lynn. Although I consider myself a moderate, I know it’s way more complicated than that.

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