Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

The Trouble With Moderates

Posted by Adam Graham on March 19, 2007

Dennis Mansfield has a simple proposal for moderates fed up with the conservative house leadership of Speaker Lawrence Denney:

I think the real issue is what Dem leaders of Idaho “should” say and do to help the whole political system – simply recruiting the moderate GOP members to switch parties could be the healthiest thing in Idaho’s recent political history.

The GOP moderates tend to be pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro-tax increase, pro-gay, pro-tax and spend…etc, etc. And the Democrat’s should welcome them with open arms, shouldn’t they?

It would also force the GOP platform to either mean something…or not. Political parties’ philosophies either direct public policy…or it’s all a sham, isn’t it? We either debate the issues of our times or we simply revert to high school…posing, positioning and pretending.

Dennis raises some great points. I don’t think he’s got the best answer, though. The ultimate problem you run into is that many moderates don’t fit in the Democratic Party. If there are truly moderates who fit Dennis’ description of “pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro-tax increase, pro-gay, pro-tax and spend” than it would seem logical to switch. Some don’t fit in logically anywhere.

For example on tax issues, Senator Hal Bunderson (R-Meridian) is clearly a more moderate or liberal lawmaker, but on pro-life issues, he’s very strongly pro-life. Where does he fit?

While I think the Republican Platform is great, the Democratic Platform is not so great, it’s an imprecise guide for moderates. You have a few people who believe 90-100% of it, a number that believe 80-90% and then a few folks who believe somewhere between 50-80% of it or even less Where exactly do those folks go. If you believe 60% of the GOP platform, you’re not going to be comfortable with a party that’s run out of Blaine County and the North End.

In other countries, the parties tend to be more idealogically pure, because they’re smaller and more numerous. In Israel a Prime Minister is elected and immediately he goes about figuring out how to form a coalition. The GOP and the Democrats are coalitions of groups which would be different parties in other countries. To that end, the only way to solve the “moderate’s dilemna” is for two or three additional parties to be established. (There are moderates in the Democratic Party, too.) That’s a mess and won’t happen. So, certainly I wouldn’t invite anyone to leave for the Democratic Party.

Dennis is right that we need to talk about real issues. Sadly, our platform does that a lot better than our politicians do. The key is a more involved and informed conservative electorate who will elect people who have a greater amount of respect and support for Republican and Conservative principles.

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