What Exactly Is a Moderate?

115th Congress passed more laws than before, but of similar ...

As a country, we toss around the words right, center, and left to describe where we fall on the political spectrum. But what exactly does it mean to have a moderate political philosophy? You could ask a dozen people who identify as a moderate and get a dozen answers, but when you dig a little deeper, you will find they all fall under three common themes.

Respect

A moderate political philosophy understands that throughout history, great ideas have come from both sides of the aisle. Moderates commit to analyzing views from either party in order to come up with the best solution for our country as a whole.  

Compromise

Recently, the word compromise has become synonymous with “weak.” But moderates understand the truth behind the saying by the poet John Lydgate, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” A moderate political philosophy recognizes that political decisions require compromise, which is a sign of strength, rather than weakness.

Policy Over Party

In his farewell address, George Washington warned that “…Political factions may seek to obstruct the execution of the laws created by the government or to prevent the branches of government from enacting the powers provided them by the constitution.” The decrease in the ability of Congress to pass substantive laws over the last 30 years – at the same time our politics have become more divisive – is an unfortunate demonstration that Washington’s warnings have come true. 

With the proliferation of new sources, most of which seem to push a political agenda on the right or left, moderates stress the importance of analyzing a range of political ideologies and compromise to find a solution. Central to moderates’ beliefs is that people and policy are more important than political parties.