Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Moderates" and "Moderation"?

“Moderates” and “Moderation”?
P. Schultz
October 8, 2013

            Here is an article from the NY Times entitled “A GOP Moderate in the Middle…..of a Jam.” It is about Congressperson Charlie Dent who claims to be a moderate in an increasingly immoderate party. And of course, the crux of this “analysis” is that what we need in the Congress are more moderates like Charlie Dent – as was the case when Bill Clinton was president and the government was “shut down.” As the article claims:

“The dwindling coalition of centrist legislators on both sides of the aisle is one of the reasons the current Congress has all but ground to a halt.”

            Of course, such an argument seems to be only common sense, which is one reason it is being endorsed by almost all those who are watching the goings on in D.C. these days. “Oh, if only the immoderates would just compromise, all would be well. The government could govern and the country would be ‘back on track.’” Some even say that it is our alleged “two party system” which is to blame for all of our ills.

            But this article never asks: What does “moderation” get us? It gets the government “open” again but beyond that, what happens? It seems to me that the answer to that question is: Just more of the same. That is, just a continuation of the status quo. Which should lead to the question: Is continuing the status quo all that desirable?

            If you assume that our current leaders of our “two” parties are status quo politicians, then the “shut down” is hardly a failure or an indication that the system is “broken.” Rather, it is exactly what they want because it makes the status quo look desirable. Almost all focus on the “need” to “re-open” the government or extend the debt ceiling and almost no one focuses on change, that is, the kind of changes that are needed to improve an otherwise bleak situation.

For example, with the government “shut,” no one can think about how to improve our increasingly unequal society, how to stop our militaristic adventures such as the kidnapping that just occurred in Libya, or to stop our support for the new despots claiming the right to rule in Egypt or for the jihadists attempting to overthrow Assad in Syria.  And, apparently, the government “shut down” does not prevent such military actions or such imprudent “diplomacy.”

Moreover, the “shut down” reinforces the “lesson” we have been taught over and over again: Politics doesn’t “work” and there is little that can be done to remedy our ills. Preserving the status quo, across the board, is all that can be accomplished. And this is labeled “moderation.” In our current situation, I submit it would be better labeled “extremism,” as extreme for example as the reassertion of dictatorship in Egypt – which by the way is also being presented to us as “moderation.”

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