This appeared in only slightly different format as a comment on a front page column, responding to the question, "What is a moderate?" Due to overwhelming popular demand (Penguin and Jaded) I'm posting it here with only slight modification....
“Moderate” is a label other people apply to someone else more frequently than they apply it to themselves. I notice that it isn’t often applied to Democrats, and nobody cares about that. In general, it means “not fully committed,” so maybe many of us are moderate in the literal sense when all the issues are considered. However…
A moderate Democrat might be one who doesn’t believe that Barack Obama can walk on water. Or he might be one who acknowledges that ACORN’s main political purpose is to use all means available, including illegal ones, to defeat Republicans at every election. But he still believes in taxing the rich and spending what’s left after the government gets its cut on “the poor,” and he believes that will work for the country.
A moderate Republican might be one who is pro-choice, or one who is in favor of government health insurance subsidies for people who can’t buy their own. But he still knows that raising tax rates from current levels will not result in higher tax revenues, and he knows that the expansion of government and its accompanying tax burden is a stultifying burden on the country.
But the Democrat who recognizes that running a trillion dollar deficit for ten years is the path to national irrelevancy for the US, and who recognizes that the government can’t be all things for all people, has gone beyond moderation–he’s almost found his way to sanity. And the Republican who is pro-choice AND believes that the stimulus has been a good thing AND thinks the government health option and takeover might be a good thing AND supports Cap-and-Tax AND is pro Card Check AND is supported by ACORN and George Soros, is also beyond moderation. She has crossed over into the land where reality is a social construct, not a fact of life. These are the “Media Moderates.” They are on the brink of switching parties. But they aren’t the “Independent Moderates,” who are officially unaffiliated with either major party.
Independent Moderates are vaguely interested in political issues, and they may have decided to vote for the Democrats or the Republicans, but they couldn’t explain to you why they made those decisions in a way that will pass a ‘reasonableness’ test. It’s impossible to reason with an Independent Moderate because they generally don’t understand what’s going on.
So, I’d say the Media Moderates the press likes to talk about may not exist except in the guise of a small number of folks who are in the process of realigning themselves with a different party anyway. Real-life Moderate Republicans and Democrats are generally in accord with their party’s tenets, and they aren’t about to switch, or to be booted out, either.
Interesting that the press never seems to care about the other end of either party (well, not of the Democrats, anyway). The Extremists are the ones who are almost off the party reservation because they think their party hasn’t been true to its own principles. Those are certainly the people the Republicans are in danger of losing, yet nobody notices that on Sunday morning, and there are a lot more of them than there are “moderate” Republicans threatening to leap left. Extremists are also the Democrats that Obama is most worried about losing. Why else would he be so worried about doing the right thing in Afghanistan, the course he decided upon last March?
To sum up, Extremists are people who are actually thinking about current problems and issues. They are strongly in opposition to each other, but they know what they believe and why they believe it. They deserve respect, not derision. Yet all the attention and concern is directed to Media and Independent Moderates.
Ya’ know what? I credit Obama and the Democrats because they are worried about losing their Extremists. They recognize that without them, they don’t have a party base. If only the Republicans can catch on soon.