Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Bias of Moderateness

We all know these people: They're so very proud of their moderateness, they trumpet how they "listen to both sides then make a decision issue by issue." They almost always find a way to land in the center, somehow, even though they're considering each issue on its merits. It's as legitimate of a bias as Conservatism or Liberalism, without the inherent honesty of bias that comes with the Left and the Right (Drive-By Media and their poorly hidden bias not withstanding).

These individuals believe that the concept of the middle ground taught in the school yard is absolutely true in life. You know which concept I speak of: If two people are having a disagreement, it is likely neither are 100% right, but the truth is in the middle. (This is often false, by the way. (This is often false, by the way. If one child is bullying another child because the bully needs to feel superior or in control of another person, the bullied child is not partially to blame; the bully is to blame for his actions.) Thus they find a way to land in the middle.

They see Conservatives pushing for low taxes and Liberals for high taxes, they recommend the two sides split the difference. They see Conservatives wanting small government and Liberals wanting big government, they push for medium sized government. Unfortunately, both economic history and the desire for the maximum amount of freedom for individuals would stand in the way of even medium level taxes or medium sized government. In the case of the former, the more money you take out of the economy the more you are harming the ability of business owners to hire by taking away business capital. In the case of the latter, we already have too much government; quite frankly we need less of it that the current batch of Republicans is accepting.

It’s not hard to understand WHY people love being considered moderates. In the case of Liberals, they recognize that Liberalism is not main stream by any stretch. In the Gallup Poll that I quote frequently (1), only 20% of Americans consider themselves Liberal. So, wanting to be perceived as mainstream, they call themselves “moderate.”

Conservatives actually are quite main stream. The same poll shows 42% of Americans consider themselves Conservative, more than double the number of Liberals and a comfortable 7% more than consider themselves Moderate. Unfortunately, Conservatives are treated as being as extreme as Liberalism, and since they don’t want to be perceived as extremists, many Conservatives call themselves “Moderate.”

There’s another reason, and it’s more important than the others. The Media has done its very best to promote being a moderate as akin to being thoughtful, intellectual, good with children, an excellent cook, and all kinds of good things. The Drive-Bys have done their best to make sure you WANT to be called Moderate, because it makes you sound wise.

Automatically aiming for the middle doesn’t make a person wise. What makes a person wise is being intelligent enough to do the things that work and have worked over time. Wisdom is continuing the things that have brought positive results and ceasing the things that yielded negative results. Historically, Conservatism has yielded positive results and Liberalism has yielded negative results. To split the difference is to simply garner somewhat less positive results at best or somewhat less lousy results at worst.

Yet there are individuals who define their entire political beliefs on the idea of being moderate. If they truly considered each issue on its merit, it is likely they would end up with a Conservative view on some issues and a more Liberal view on others. I’ve met few people who fit that description (although there are a handful of such people). The ones who aren’t Conservatives or Liberals in denial and aren’t in that small handful I mentioned before are people who are biased toward moderateness.

They put one leg on either side of the fence on every issue and sit. My friends, this isn’t wisdom. It is in fact less wise even than those who fall immediately to the left or the right simply because it is left or right. Those individuals at least found out that their core values are Liberal or Conservative and thus assume that their opinion on a new issue would likely fall in line with those core values. Moderates just aim for the fence with their rear ends so they can sit on it.

The bias of moderateness is a copout. It’s an attempt to seem wise while being lazy. People who are stuck on being moderate are not intelligent; they just want you to think of them that way. To those of you who are legitimate Conservatives, who feel you must call yourself Moderate, please stop. You have made your decisions on values and a track record of success. Be proud of it! 42% of Americans agree with you. Even those of you who are Liberal, I don’t agree with you but at least have the guts to admit who you are. If you are truly convinced of Liberalism, stand up for it, don’t spin it and call it being Moderate to be palatable to those who don’t agree with you.

To those of you who automatically aim for the fence to sit on it…for Heaven’s sake please take the time to make an informed decision. Even if you become convinced of Liberalism you’ve been adult enough to take a stand. Landing in the center doesn’t make you wise, it makes you wishy-washy.


(1) In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals

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