Democrats & Liberals Archives

Moderates are Really Liberals

In a previous post, I defined a moderate as someone in between a conservative and a liberal. I want to correct this. This definition applies to someone who has been elected to an executive or a legislative office. For ordinary folks, the word “moderate” has an entirely different meaning. A person in the general public calls himself a moderate when he or she has the median point of view. And guess what - the median point of view in our society on a whole range of issues is decidedly liberal. Moderates, who are not politicians, are really liberals, though they do not say so.

E.J. Dionne, a Washington Post columnist, tells us that he learned from the 2004 exit polls that 21 percent of the voters called themselves liberal, 34 percent said they were conservative and 45 percent called themselves moderate. So conservatives grabbed this data and proclaimed that the majority are conservatives. And indeed, everybody seems to believe this.

But not Paul Waldman. First he looks at the Median Voter Theory that says that

"political success belongs to the party that positions itself closest to the voter who lies in the precise middle of the ideological spectrum."

Then he spills the beans about this median voter - this moderate:

"But who is the actual median voter in America? At this moment in history, that voter is pro-choice, wants to increase the minimum wage, favors strong environmental protections, likes gun control, thinks corporations have too much power and that the rich get away with not paying their fair share in taxes, believes the Iraq War was a mistake, wants a foreign policy centered on diplomacy and strong alliances, and favors civil unions for gays and lesbians. Yet despite all this, those voters identify themselves as 'moderate.'"

Yes, the great majority of the 45% who call themselves moderates lean to the positions advocated by liberals. They don't like to call themselves "liberals" because the conservative noise machine has spent several decades of propaganda making "liberal" a dirty word. OK, these people do not use the word "liberal" but they still hold the same viewpoints as liberals.

Most moderates are liberals. Democrats must resist advocating more conservative positions, as some in the party advocate. They will succeed in the next election if they advocate liberal positions. Liberal positions are what the great majority of the population wants.

Give the people what they want - liberal positions - and win!

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 18, 2005 7:51 PM