Sean Gleeson searches for a word that fits people who don’t identify as either liberal or conservative, and neither “centrist” nor “moderate” will do:
A true centrist would be one whose opinions fell in the middle on every issue. For instance, he would want a half-victory in the war; he would half-abort and half-euthanize innocent lives; and he would half-ban firearms and prayer. True centrists are a little weird, and more than a little scarce.
By contrast, an X21’s policy preferences do fall on one or the other side of the spectrum, just not on the same side for each issue. He is Right on some, and Left on others. He might want legal abortion, but also victory in the current war. Or, he might be against abortion, but also advocate our abject surrender. In other words, the typical X21 is not in the middle; he’s in a muddle.
The label we seek is obviously not ‘moderate,’ ‘fence-sitter,’ or any other word with a ‘centrist’ meaning.
[N]obody with a well-developed political ideology is a moderate. By definition, if you are liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, communist, Enviro-wacko, batshit neocon, or whatever the hell Pat Buchanan and Bob Novak are (paleo-pseudo-con?), you cannot be moderate. George Bush isn’t moderate. Nor is Colin Powell, Janet Reno, Howard Dean, Glenn Reynolds, Megan McArdle, or Kevin Drum. Nor am I.
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”).
I noted at that time that I was “definitely for liberty and equality, and violently opposed to hard work.”
But this doesn’t make the lexicographer’s task any easier. Once again, Sean Gleeson shoulders the burden:
Any apposite label will be based on the notion that these folks have custom-mixed their own ideologies with selections from both sides.
I fired up the old thesaurus, and found some interesting synonyms for ‘mixture,’ including alloy, composite, fusion, goulash, hodgepodge, jumble, mash, medley, miscellany, mishmash, mosaic, mélange, pastiche, patchwork, potpourri, quilt, salmagundi, and union.
But since some of these seem to lack quantifiability or seriousness or curb appeal, here’s the term of choice: Hybrid.
It reeks of scientific precision. It conveys the impression that we’ve borrowed material from two species to create a third one, that’s better than either of its parents, an impression I think would flatter the X21s. ‘Hybrid’ may not be perfect, but it’s as close as we’ll get, so it must be the right answer.
Me, I think I like “goulash,” but this may be because I skipped breakfast.