The top story of this week’s The Economist is about the complete absence of moderates or respect for moderatism in politics – aptly named “The Missing Middle.” The story is interestingly connected to some recent posts I penned that drummed up some controversy.
The article remarks that extremism has largely taken over american politics. We know the cliches and the buzzwords. Compromise is a dirty word. Intransigence. Divisiveness.
The concepts are not new, but they are so very important because they speak to the structural heart of our political problems. Important still is recognizing that both sides are to blame. Even if, as the article points out (and I agree) that “the right is mostly to blame.”
It is easy to point out the obstructionism by the right, which has prevented a “grand bargain,” genuine health care reform, entitlement reform and tax reform. But as compromise fails there are those on the left emerging who are calling for more hardline tactics. This reaction will only make things worse. As I have said before, an extremist on one side gives credence to one the other side. This very idea is likely to make people angry. But liberals (especially) ought to recognize the usefulness of taking the high ground and consistently holding your political movement to the highest of standards. They should take a page out of their stalwarts’ books and imitate the work of former nonviolent activists.
The focus for action should not have to be the presidency. More people vote in that election than in all others. Moderatism and reasonableness in these races has not been a problem in recent history. McCain was a moderate republican, Obama was clearly a moderate democrat, Romney is a moderate republican and Obama remains as he was. The problem is, and has been in congress (for obvious reasons).
Unfortunately both OWS and the Tea Party are manifestations of our problems. Two sides, pinned against one another in the media and in their own minds, not realizing how much in common they have with the other. And not caring.