“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.”
— Charles Darwin
As I write, impeachment round 2 of Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, is being deliberated in the United States Senate. No doubt a bunch of hypocritical nonsense designed to achieve the desired outcome is underway. I have heard or caught snippets of the Kabuki theater, and it truly is a spectacle to behold. Not unlike most of the past four years, we left Trump Derangement Syndrome a long time ago and have devolved into 1984 Ministry of Truth-speak. And for a good percentage of the population, we understand the sheer idiocy of trying a president for removal from office, who is already out of office. Still a percentage of the population hangs on every word of a corporate press that can only be described as literary fiction; what Hillary Clinton so eloquently coined and Donald Trump made famous as “fake news.” And this is my purpose for writing: to set the record straight on the terms we use. Specifically, on the use of terms like “extreme,” “far-” and “moderate”.
In a recent conversation with a well-meaning individual, they opined about a desire to return to a “moderate” state and the rise of “far” polarized politics. And while I am in full agreement that we are sharply polarized in this country, that doesn’t necessarily equate to being in sharply opposed ideological camps. Given that the American Left enjoys complete cultural hegemony across academia, social media and legacy media, the public is often left with a single perspective on any given topic. And that perspective is taken as gospel, given the lack of a viable alternative in the public square. That said, the lack of allowable opposing thought is not tantamount to the lack of viable, rational, and even correct thought on a given subject.
For our purposes, let’s focus on the term “moderate.” In American political discourse, we define this to mean in the middle. And we assume that to mean not on either end of a linear political spectrum where we have a moderate level of authoritarianism. On the far left, you have the communists and socialists: those who wish the state to usurp the means of production and distribute them equitably to all people. On the far right, you have the Nazis and fascists: those who wish to usurp the means of production for themselves. Now, this dichotomy is absolutely absurd because communists, socialists, Nazis and fascists all fall on the same end of the political spectrum. They’re authoritarians who wish to socially engineer the population to their own nefarious ends. Opposed to these ideologies are the libertarians and anarchists who believe every man is a government unto themselves and wish to not be “ruled” by anyone. Somewhere in the middle is democracy and representative republicanism.
So how does the term “moderate” come into play in my recent discussion? In contemporary discourse “moderate” has become synonymous with approved thought. If you agree with approved thought, you are sane, rational and moderate; not extreme like that rube Donald Trump! “Did you know he literally puts children in cages and calls immigrants rapists and drug dealers?” Aside from the fact that the last sentence was completely in jest and mocking of the ridiculous narratives sold to the public, it is a shining example of the approved thought that has brought us to where we are. While Donald Trump can and does use harsh language in political discourse, it’s largely directed at the political class and the mockery they make of our system of governance. This is a dichotomy that cannot be ignored. We’d all like tasteful and kind language to be used in politics, but just as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, sometimes coarse language better communicates the severity of the message.
If we put the administration of Donald Trump under a microscope, I think the vast majority of the public would find that Donald Trump was one of the most “moderate” politicians in this country’s history. This is an advantage of being the Populist President and not necessarily beholden to a single Party. Don’t believe me? On the left-spectrum, you got criminal justice reform, the anti-war candidate, gun accessory bans, support for LGBT equality, a laissez-faire approach to drug decriminalization, pro-labor, support for paid parental leave and the highest Republican minority support since before the Civil Rights Act was instituted. On the right-spectrum, you got tax cuts, regulatory reform, support for free speech, pro-life support, a dedicated renewal to the military (not war machine), and a focus on stricter immigration and border controls.
In summary, getting outside of the allowable thought bubble is necessary for us to return to a “moderate” state. If we redefine our terms when we call for “moderate” and not extreme politics, we find that in reality, we were “moderate” all along.
Brian Parsons has been a resident of Pocatello for the past seven years. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in digital media from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science degree in information systems from the University of Utah. He’s a digital marketing consultant, a proud husband and father, and an unabashed paleo conservative. You can follow him on his blog at WithdrawConsent.org.