A Moderate Manifesto

Compromise is a maligned word. These days, whenever I hear it used, I think about the way this term has eroded in meaning to an association with a downgrading of results. The Righteously Indignant decry compromise as an insult to their ideological virtue. And then, there are those feckless politicians who have no intention of doing anything other than serving themselves, but let the words dribble out of their mouths, hoping they sound statesman-like.


In a media-hyped culture that prides itself on strongly held philosophies and definitive answers, compromise is ridiculed. The fact that stridency is declared to be an expression of one’s level of personal and professional pride is the warped result of such hype. To compromise now portrays a defeat, an indicator of grave weakness. The most troubling example of how this is manifesting is the destruction of political moderates and any discussion of a middle ground.


When I used to work in politics back in California, my boss was sometimes referred to as a “liberal squish.” He paid no attention, which is good, but the phrase was intended as an insult. To me, this sort of insistence on political purity is akin to playground name calling and bullying. Besides, I’d like to know who it is that gets to set out the definition of a “real” Republican or “true” Democrat? Who are they to set these standards and then decree whether or not everyone else measures up? Our social contract exists because we’re all better off together than in a go-it-alone world, and as such, we have to compromise.


Personally, I see no justifiable reason in modern society (not warfare) to market gun clips that carry dozens or hundreds of bullets, ready to fire at a single trigger. But, I also don’t believe that any law can stop a determined crazy person. A country founded on the premise of personal opportunity does not owe its citizens endless taxpayer-supported anything or pull-out-the-stops accommodations for certain groups. And I find it immoral that six out of ten third graders in DC public schools today read at below-grade level and that the DC Board of Education is considering no longer ensuring students take a course in American Government as part of a social studies requirement.


I contend that many of today’s most common vocabulary terms have been hijacked by bloviating, political interests which are clever enough to know that if they re-define commonly used words, the dialogue gets messy and confused. Combine sneaky, new definitions with a sympathetic image that elicits an emotional response in the audience and then vilify the opposition or anyone who suggests some sort of middle ground and you successfully squeeze out the moderate. The very nature of democracy is compromise. Utopias are unattainable and exist only in the minds of those who decree themselves “intellectual” enough and “compassionate” enough to know for the rest of us, poor cows, mooing in the fields.


Moderates of the world, rise up! We are being squished out of the dialogue by strident know-it-alls encroaching from every angle. It may be against type to push back, but I don’t see how letting them righteously shout us down, arguing that compromise is for the weak is a preferable option—we have a moral imperative to redefine the dialogue. Bullies don’t improve the safety or happiness or ensure a greater success rate for anyone else. 


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One Response to “A Moderate Manifesto”

  1. Helen Arnold Says:

    Get out from behind the computer and run for office!! We need thinkers like you. 🙂

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