Moderation is useful and viable in certain contexts, a theoretically positive thing. I know an academic, a good one, who calls himself a “moderate,” but admits such a stance can get you swiped by traffic coming from both directions! In other words, not an easy way to go these contentious days.
But in fact, moderation once worked easily and well in, say, the placid ‘50s, when Ike was president and people were less divided and acrimonious than today. It was the era when even former socialists could write books like “The Genius of American Politics,” “The End of Ideology,” and others indicating that a kind of consensus was now firmly ensconced in America.
But moderation today has become in many ways, a mirage, and sometimes, downright ludicrous. For instance, calling Mr. Biden a moderate is chimerical, despite his sweet messaging to an ailing Trump, rosary beads kept in his pocket, etc. Given that he’s really on the flank of BLM and Antifa, of ballot harvesting and potential mail-in ballot fraud, plus the utopic and profligate economic agenda of AOC and Bernie, the courts going one way only, and too much else that’s anything but “moderate.”
And on the other side? People now get labeled as right-wingers, reactionaries, and such, despite how much they also try to purvey images of moderation. But deep inside, many in this lane aren’t either. Not given American developments that so disquiet them. In their heart of hearts, they now want (if it’s possible) non-wishy-washy responses to omnipresent looting, arson, and outright thuggery in so many places. Inside they’d like millions of dead trees cleaned up in California, and the heck with this or that protected insect! Inside they want a strong foreign policy vis-à-vis menacing nations like Iran and China. Inside they want courts to make more of their results end up in, yes, the center, rather than on a farther Left, as generally occurred during Obama’s era, and still does. Inside they want less taxation and fewer business regulations. Inside they want...
But don’t often vocalize. They know that in today’s environment all such wish lists are in the main, difficult to obtain, and in some cases, virtually impossible, except perhaps in the short run. And not really secure as times and political eras change.
In sum, moderation today is increasingly a threatened species in America. And it’s happened many times before, and in a variety of countries throughout history.
Easy, for instance, to be a moderate just after the Russian Revolution occurred in the spring of 1917; but not following the Bolshevik coup that fall, and especially after their final victory in the civil war during the early ‘20s. Even old Communists like Trotsky were increasingly unsafe, never mind more down-the-middle types, many of whom tried simply to get abroad.
Rather easy as well to be a moderate in Germany of, say, 1926, when the Nazis were still relatively harmless as a party and group, an obstreperous, tough bunch gaining converts, but not yet a mainstream threat. Impossible, however, to be a moderate there after March ’33 and Hitler’s take-over. By that time, such a stance could get one killed!
Moving forward, easy again to be moderate in a prosperous French Algeria of 1953, and to support the vibrant European melting pot there of French, Spanish, Italians, etc. (some 1,000,000 people); but less and less feasible as the ‘50s wore on, and impossible by the early ‘60s, when these Europeans and Jews were lucky to get out (from Arab-Berber terrorism) with their lives and nothing else.
So in parlous, divisive times moderation can indeed become an unfindable oasis. But easy to feign, right Mr. Biden? Put on those ersatz togs, act the part, and tell us how you’ll usher in a far sweeter, kinder period for us all, right? When, in fact, you’re beholden to the radical Mob! And if you don’t give in to far-out firebrands both in Congress and the streets, you’ll be in much deeper water than you are right now (with your cognitive problems and such).
Moderation can be a fine thing, but unfortunately, this is no longer the era of Father Knows Best or even Three is Company! As Joe could also tell you, that is, if he were being honest…