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When "Moderate" Means Unelectable

Updated on January 18, 2012

Apparently, in the current US political climate, “moderate” is a dirty word. Synonyms from Microsoft WORD describe moderate this way -

  • reasonable
  • modest
  • sensible
  • restrained
  • judicious
  • fair
  • temperate

Now, I don’t know about you, but those sound like traits I’d like in my president. They would tell me that s/he wouldn’t be quick to judge or act. That s/he would contemplate an issue thoroughly, hear all sides, then make a decision based on facts and considerations.

To do otherwise, would be to react rather than act, to knee-jerk a response, to ‘stay the course’ when the course requires rethinking. To be the opposite of moderate.

“Moderate” antonyms:

  • radical
  • extremist
  • fanatical
  • excessive

The United States is still dealing with the aftermath of an anti-moderate president, yet a great portion of her people refuse to see the connection. Instead, they blame the current administration.

I’ve said before that I support Barack Obama even though I voted for Hillary. I do not, however, support his administration blindly. Decisions have been made which I do not like. Compromises have been made which weaken the message, reign in the forward motion. But, based on core issues, I am still a supporter. I do not fear extreme-left fanaticism from this president but rather notice a pulling back to center.

Like Tug of War

There’s a knot in the middle of a rope. When the rope is held taut, the knot hovers over the center of a mud pile. Each side is pulled, tugged, in an attempt to get the knot over to their side and dunk the opponent, face first, into the muck. When that happens, when the loser winds up with schmutz on his face, everyone points and laughs. Presumably the loser laughs, too.

It’s a game. Someone will win and someone will lose. That’s understood from the beginning and those who play, are in it for fun.

Unfortunately, with the game of politics, ‘fun’ is not the goal. And the loser rarely laughs because the loser is us – the people. The loser is the woman whose ‘choice’ has been stripped away, or the family man who’s lost his job. The child whose parents scrimped and saved who must endure a lifetime of debt because of obscene college fees. The elderly who must choose medication or heat.

We stand on the sidelines as the game plays out, our fists pounding the air overhead, urging our candidate to pull harder, to show no mercy. And for a brief moment, when the other side falls, we feel glee, pride in our contender, and contempt for the opponent.

Four years later, the still-muddied losers seek revenge, indeed they’ve been plotting it all along. And we play the game again with neither side having learned about fair play or good sportsmanship.

“Sportsmanship and easygoing methods are all right, but it is the prospect of a hot fight that brings out the crowds.” –John McGraw/’Little Napoleon

Jon Huntsman – A Moderate Dismissed

The republican field is getting smaller. The camp is honing in on a leader, effectively plucking the weeds from the field and tossing them aside. A handful of blades stand firm and strong, resistant to the ever-changing winds of public opinion and poisoned air.

The latest to leave the fray was a confident, though modest, soft-spoken man. A man able to cross the aisle when necessary yet remain true to his core values.

A moderate.

Jon Huntsman may not be ‘all that’, but as a Republican who worked for a Democrat, he showed a willingness to compromise, to do his share for the greater good. A good sport who failed to excite the crowd because of the lack of a “hot fight”.

And so he dropped out of the race and threw his support behind another so-called “moderate” – a ‘moderate’ determined to shed the image and excite the base.

The focus of the opponents is clear – to make the current president’s first term his last. The focus is not on the issues, it is not on accomplishment or failures, per se. It is on “knocking him out”, as stated by Newt Gingrich as he corrected a supporter who suggested Gingrich ‘bloody Obama’s nose”.

Jon Huntsman, the moderate, wouldn’t have used such charged rhetoric. In fact, he never did and so he went unnoticed, remained unelectable, according to the base.

Romney, the chameleon and the man Huntsman now supports, is the most moderate of the remaining few. Today. But, because he is deemed able to “beat Obama”, the Right will sacrifice some of its core values and entertain the thought of electing a non-protestant, a man who was a pro-choice and health care mandate proponent when the winds blew that way.

What happens, then, in four years, when neither side has truly ‘won’? When both wind up with mud on their faces? What will be sacrificed then?

Or, is it possible, that in four year’s time, the country will be so disgusted by the constant mud slinging, that a true moderate will appeal to the masses?

One can only hope we survive long enough to find out.


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    • Lady Quill profile image

      Lady Quill 6 years ago

      I couldn't agree more with all you've said here, Credence2. Thank you for commenting. I am late getting to this but look forward to reading your post on Huntsman.

      I worry how the word 'moderate' has come to mean something vulgar to too many people. This country has been pulled so far right over the past decade that I also worry about 'moderate' soon truly meaning right of center. We can only hope sane minds will rule the next election.

      Thanks again for coming by and commenting. I do value your opinions.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Greetings, Lady Quill, The greatest fear that I had with Barack Obama was his caving in to pressure from the right to water down initiatives that were desparately needed. Since, last September when he finally put his foot down, recognizing that he had as much chance at comprimise with the Right as one would have with the "Terminator", he is on the correct path.

      I recently penned an article touching on Huntsman and how his moderation led to his defeat. The political right is currently like so many rabid dogs and are very dangerous.

      Romney is only moderate in manner and demeanor, his plan to destroy the middle class will be death through a thousand cuts rather than the customary bullet to the head. Basically, none of them are any good. Great article, to get the adrenaline flow.

      In defense of our continued survival, moderation and reasonableness in a leader is a virtue, regardless of the disharnomious voices that say the contrary. Cred2

    • Elani-Lee profile image

      Elani-Lee 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      The majority of people make decisions based on their feelings. They don't think about things logically. This is why a moderate doesn't do well. They are very logical, and this is something that the average person can't relate to.

    • Lady Quill profile image

      Lady Quill 6 years ago

      niall.tubbs, thanks for commenting.

      I don't know if it's an American thing, but I do agree that there's a greater 'need' here recently to win for the sake of winning rather than for the sake of principle. Maybe it was always that way and we just notice it more now because of the 24-hour news channels, internet and such. I don't know. I don't like it and can only hope others begin to grow as weary of it as I am.

      Thanks for coming by.

    • Lady Quill profile image

      Lady Quill 6 years ago

      I agree, GNelson, but am not sure whether the words "political" and "original thought" belong in the same sentence any more. Sad. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

    • GNelson profile image

      GNelson 6 years ago from Florida

      To me a moderate is someone who can accept the best ideas and not follow political dogma. You know someone who can climb out of the political box and think an original thought.