December 21, 2016


One Way Not to Be Like Trump (PETER WEHNER, DEC. 17, 2016, NY Times)

For many, moderation is what the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre called a "tender souls philosophy."

This is quite a serious problem, as Aurelian Craiutu argues in his superb and timely new book, "Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes," in which he profiles several prominent 20th-century thinkers, including Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin and Michael Oakeshott. Mr. Craiutu, a professor of political science at Indiana University, argues that the success of representative government and its institutions depends on moderation because these cannot properly function without compromise, which is the governing manifestation of moderation.

The case for political moderation requires untangling some misconceptions.

Moderation does not mean truth is always found equidistant between two extreme positions, nor does it mean that bold and at times even radical steps are not necessary to advance moral ends. Moderation takes into account what is needed at any given moment; it allows circumstances to determine action in the way that weather patterns dictate which route a ship will follow.

But there are general characteristics we associate with moderation, including prudence, the humility to recognize limits (including our own), the willingness to balance competing principles and an aversion to fanaticism. Moderation accepts the complexity of life in this world and distrusts utopian visions and simple solutions. The way to think about moderation is as a disposition, not as an ideology. Its antithesis is not conviction but intemperance.

Moderates "do not see the world in Manichaean terms that divide it into forces of good (or light) and agents of evil (or darkness)," according to Professor Craiutu. "They refuse the posture of prophets, champion sobriety in political thinking and action, and endorse an ethics of responsibility as opposed to an ethics of absolute ends." This allows authentic moderates to remain open to facts that challenge their assumptions and makes them more likely to engage in debate free of invective. The survival of a functioning parliamentary system, Sir William Harcourt said, depends on "constant dining with the opposition."

...that when you look at polling on political issues Americans tend to be moderates, not wingnuts, by large margins. 
Posted by at December 21, 2016 11:57 AM