Beyond “Moderates”

In a passage that hints at why we have started The Pacific Bull Moose, co-editor Paul Starr of The American Prospect makes what I think is an astute observation about conservative side of America’s political spectrum.

The Republicans, in contrast, have virtually cleansed themselves of moderates and are poised to move the country sharply to the right if they win the 2012 election. The source of the party’s shift is a mysterious death that may be the single most important contemporary political development—the demise of the moderate Republican in national politics.

He is correct, of course, and that leaves the American right captured by extremists – a situation we at the Moose abhor and are endeavoring to rectify.

Part of the problem, I fear, is diction. The term “Moderate” implies a lack of passion for anything in particular, and a wavering commitment to a set of beliefs. Another diction problem is that the left has grabbed the term “progressive” and made off with it, turning it into a Frankenstein of their own such that the phrase “progressive conservative” seems an oxymoron.

We are going to try to rectify that, in part by waking the ghosts of Theodore Roosevelt, Hiram Johnson, Earl Warren, and other progressive conservatives of the past, but more critically by articulating a belief system that has too long lain dormant in the American body politic. It is possible to be conservative and yet believe passionately that many things need to be changed. Indeed, if it were ever possible, it is possible today.

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