I shall start, as I should almost any time I speak, by saying I wish to offend nobody. If you fall within the "moderate" group I am about to malign, I apologize. It is not personal. I realize this likely won't be a popular post with some....get over it.
I will state my main point right off the bat. Political moderation (by which I mean the political ideals moderates hold) is hurting America more than anything else and the "respect" given to moderates is overblown and dangerous.
It's simple really. Just because something is pragmatic, possible, and a compromise between two opposing sides...does not mean it is the right thing to do.
It truly bothers me that those who call themselves moderates are automatically given a stamp of approval and looked at as those who have the wisdom to guide us. This is simply not the case. What moderation does is hold us back from completely curing problems or creating progress. The fact is, a great amount of really good policies, no matter which side of the aisle, are politically to the left or right. Just being "in the middle" does not mean something is a good idea.
Look, I get it. Politics is the art of the possible and moderate, pragmatic ideas are what can pass. I am certainly not lobbying for continued bickering or blind disagreement between the left and the right. However, this moderate approach makes for very watered down legislation that rarely gets us where we need to go.
Now, I'm not attempting to insult those in the middle. What I would argue is that those in the middle are there for reasons that tend to lead to bad policy. In my experience, most of those who identify as somewhere in the middle tend to fall in two camps: those who have given up on the political process, and those who are uninformed (there are of course exceptions).
I completely understand being disillusioned and discouraged about the political process. It's dirty, childish and seems to never get anywhere with no change in sight. I've almost been there myself (voted for Nader once...shhhh). However, these are not the kind of people who I want making policy, or deciding who gets to make policy.
Now, I also classified a portion of moderates as ill informed or ignorant about the issues. I stand behind this statement as does Newsweek. Newsweek recently conducted a poll, albeit not a very scientific poll, of different political stances showing that as people from each side of the aisle got closer to self-identifying as "in the middle" they knew less and less about American government and history. This isn't to say moderates are dumber, of course they aren't, but it is to say they are apathetic and less informed (again, there are exceptions, I realize these are generalizations).
Those who tend to study, those who inform themselves, those who are passionate about what our problems are and the solutions to those problems...tend to be impassioned enough to choose a side.
I happen to be a liberal, so I think liberal policies tend to be better ideas. There are conservatives, and they happen to think conservative policies are better ideas. In some instances I am correct and in some instances conservatives are correct. The result of compromise isn't correct merely because it is a compromise.
Obamacare (I hate calling it that because the bill looks nothing like what he wanted) was a compromise and yes it will cover many more Americans but it will likely do so at great expense. Had a liberal policy, such as single-payer been adopted, it would have covered everyone and cut per capita health care costs by about two-thirds. That would have been far superior than the moderate compromise of Obamacare.
::Scratches head trying to think of conservative version of the above::
Alright, I'll give this one a try. I happen to be conservative on the problem of illegal immigration. I think an amnesty program, including earned amnesty, is a bad idea. We tried it in 1986 when President Reagan compromised and agreed to a blanket amnesty with stepped up efforts at border patrol. Obviously, this did not work. A better plan likely would have entailed strict enforcement of illegal immigrant employment laws. Once you dry up the illegal jobs there is no reason for illegal immigrants to come here. This would also reward immigrants coming legally. This policy, I feel, would have been better...but through the art of compromise, we got a watered down version that did little to fix the problem putting it off for another day.
Of course I realize that sometimes a compromise does turn out to be the best policy. For instance, I believe gun control would be best left to each state to determine what is appropriate for their constituents. I don't believe guns should be banned altogether (some people hunt and some towns have a very small police force). I also don't believe guns should be available everywhere (banning guns in NYC would be a wonderful idea, they serve no legitimate purpose). Here, in my opinion, a compromise is the best answer. However, not because it is a compromise, but because it seems like the best policy.
This leads me to a finer point I'd like to make. I believe there is a distinct difference between a "moderate" and an "independent". A moderate wishes to compromise. He/she wants to take both sides of a policy proposal and somehow combine them so we get some mix of both worlds. I believe this leads to mediocre policy and only puts off the problem for a later time and a ballsier legislator who will likely never show up.
On the other hand an independent analyses the problem, chooses the policy that will best cure the problem while disregarding whether the proposal came from the party they tend to agree with. This is the exact kind of person I want making policy. This is how problems are solved. Moderation isn't the answer, political independence is.