What is a Moderate Anyway?

David Brooks explains what a political moderate is:

In America, moderates revere the fact that we are a nation of immigrants dedicated to the American dream — committed to the idea that each person should be able to work hard and rise.

This animating principle doesn’t mean that all Americans think alike. It means that we have a tradition of conflict. Over the centuries, we have engaged in a series of long arguments around how to promote the American dream — arguments that pit equality against achievement, centralization against decentralization, order and community against liberty and individualism.

The moderate doesn’t try to solve those arguments. There are no ultimate solutions. The moderate tries to preserve the tradition of conflict, keeping the opposing sides balanced. She understands that most public issues involve trade-offs. In most great arguments, there are two partially true points of view, which sit in tension. The moderate tries to maintain a rough proportion between them, to keep her country along its historic trajectory.

Moderates do not necessarily take the “center position” or “mushy middle.” Instead, they are able to see the validity of multiple points of view, and seek balance above all else. Moderates are capable of strong opinions, but typically hols the view that, “no one should ever get their way.” That is the point of democracy, after all.

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