November 30, 2005

The Case for Political Moderation in America Today

As 2005 winds down, and 2006 looms on the
horizon, my fervent hope is for the spirit of
political moderation to grow in this country. What we
desperately need is for liberals and conservatives of
good will-both in government and throughout the
nation-to engage in constructive dialogue and
formulate reasonable solutions to a number of pressing
problems, in the areas of economic reform,
church-state issues, and our foreign policy (among
others).

It is vital that we resist the temptation to
distrust-or, at the extreme, demonize-those with whom
we have an honest disagreement. To remain healthy as a
people and a nation, we need to allow a wide diversity
of opinion to be expressed; but more than that, we
need to hone our ability to truly attend to each
other's arguments, and then creatively combine the
soundest of the alternative perspectives.

As a moderate-liberal and Democrat, I recognize
the value of the conservative outlook. I have come to
appreciate free enterprise, in terms of its power to
motivate individuals to strive for excellence and
personal productivity.

I believe that what most of us share as a
people-love of freedom, concern for human rights, a
sense of optimism and generosity of spirit, and firm
commitment to democracy, including the practice of
free and fair elections-far outweigh our political
differences. What most of us reject, as Americans, are
intolerance, bigotry, lawlessness, a cynical disregard
for principles of right and wrong, crass materialism,
and the self-serving exercise of power and control
over the general populace by a select few.

Most Americans, too, are repelled by evidence of
hypocrisy in our political leaders-of whatever Party
or point of view.

It is important for us to forthrightly state our
views, while seeking to avoid a narrow perspective.
For example.

*I am opposed to the Iraq War, feeling that it is
doing more harm than good, in terms of generating
animosity and strife in the Islamic world, while
failing to quell the threat of terrorism. Yet, I am
mindful of the sacrifice of those men and women in the
military who are separated from their families and who
put their lives on the line every day, in the service
of our country and the greater good. And I believe
that people of conscience can fervently disagree
regarding our conduct in the Middle East, and the
ultimate value of this war, or any war. (I say "any
war" because I am a pacifist and Conscientious
Objector)

*I am deeply concerned about the level of both
national and personal debt in the Unites States,
feeling that deficit spending exerts a corrosive
effect on both our economy, and our well-being as
individual citizens, as well as the cohesiveness of
our families. I think that we can all acknowledge,
liberals and conservatives alike, the vital importance
of learning to budget and live within our means. In my
opinion, our addiction to credit buying should be
severed (Credit cards should be torn up) and, at the
national level, deficit spending should be strictly
prohibited.

*I believe that we should preserve the boundary
between church and state-because we live in a
religiously diverse nation, and it is wrong for anyone
to-directly or indirectly, impose their religious
views on others. However, I believe that free and
mutually respectful discussion of religious questions
should not be inhibited within the educational
context, including our public schools.

I have come to recognize that a simple black or
white approach to the consideration of public policy
issues in inadequate, and can have dangerous
consequences, in terms of breeding close-mindedness
and intolerance. It is of little concern to me if the
positions I have arrived at are labeled liberal or
conservative by the media, or my neighbors. For the
sake of our well-being as a people and nation, we need
to transcend these labels once-and-for-all, and give
serious consideration to adopting a moderate political
perspective. or, at least, abandoning rigidity, in the
formulation of our opinions.

Patrick Frank
Seneca, SC

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