Let me first take the time to thank Pamela for giving me the opportunity to write some guest posts for one of the best progressive blogs in the blogosphere. I greatly appreciate it and I hope that, by posting a bit here, I can help Pamela out. Congratulations with the graduation of your daughter!
Secondly, there were some things that happened recently, I will not comment on them. What happened happened, I hold no grudges to anyone (mostly because I simply do not quite care what other people write).
Thirdly, you all might be in for somewhat of a surprise. I know that the readers of and commenters at The Democratic Daily are an open-minded bunch… but I am afraid that I might just stretch that open-mindedness to the limit: I am not exactly a progressive. I am what we in the Netherlands call a conservative liberal. This means that I tend to side with the US on most issues, and favor a hawkish foreign policy and greatly value economic freedom. A fiscal conservative, a foreign policy hawk, and a social moderate – that summarizes my views quite adequately.
Fourthly, let me apologize in advance for any errors in spelling or grammar I might (will) make. English is not my first language.
Enough about me, lets talk politics.
E.J. Dionne wrote quite an interesting column for the Washington Post. E.J. writes:
We have become political hypochondriacs. We seem eager to declare that “the system” has come down with some dread disease, to proclaim that an ideological “center” blessed by the heavens no longer exists, and woe unto us. An imperfect immigration bill is pulled from the Senate floor, and you’d think the Capitol dome had caved in.
It’s all nonsense, but it is not harmless nonsense. The tendency to blame the system is a convenient way of leaving no one accountable. Those who offer this argument can sound sage without having to grapple with the specifics of any piece of legislation. There is the unspoken assumption that wisdom always lies in the political middle, no matter how unsavory the recipe served up by a given group of self-proclaimed centrists might be.
And when Republicans and Democrats are battling each other with particular ferocity, there is always a call for the appearance of an above-the-battle savior who will seize the presidency as an independent. This messiah, it is said, will transcend such “petty” concerns as philosophy or ideology.
Finally, those who attack the system don’t actually want to change it much…
So, why is it that America does not seem to be able to reach a consensus on certain important issues, say like Social Welfare?
The simple truth is that a majority of Americans (I’m one of them) came to oppose Bush’s privatization ideas. That reflected both a principled stand and a practical judgment. From our perspective, a proposal to cut benefits and create private accounts was radical, not centrist.
An authentically “centrist” solution to this problem would involve some modest benefit cuts and some modest tax increases. It will happen someday. But for now, conservatives don’t want to support any tax increases. I think the conservatives are wrong, and they’d argue that they’re principled. What we have here is a political disagreement, not a system problem. We have these things called elections to settle political disagreements.
It is a thought provoking column for everyone, I assume, but especially for someone like me who is an assistant editor at The Moderate Voice.
As an outsider looking in, I cannot help but feel that the American political system is so incredibly divided, that I see no hope of reconciling the two sides, unless some moderate person stands up and wins the presidency.
Centrists are often pragmatically driven, progressives and conservatives are – on the other hand – more ideologically driven. That being said, when discussing this issue, one always has to remember that conservatives and progressives believe that their views aren’t just ‘ideologically sound’ but that they also make sense in the real world and will ‘work.’
In other words, Centrists praise themselves as being pragmatical (which they certainly are), but ideologues are not per definition completely impragmaticle.
I purposefully called the ideal candidate a “moderate person,” not a Centrist. It seems to me that the real art of politics is that one is able to work with the other side on specific issues, even when one strongly disagrees with that ‘other side’ on the far majority of issues.
In the end, that is what moderation is all about: one might adhere to one ideology or another, but one is not blinded by that ideology. One understands that ‘the other side’ has something useful to say as well and that, although one can passionately agree, one should not villify one’s opponents.