The Moderate Democrats Have Disappeared as Well

Reader comment on: Center-Right America

Submitted by Frank Barron (United States), Oct 22, 2018 18:52

In advancing his claim that moderate Republicans have disappeared from the landscape (a claim that is, of course, consistent with the Times editors' narrative about what's wrong with the country), Professor Starr suggests that "Susan Collins, the last one in the Senate, may just have sacrificed her reputation as a moderate with her immoderate speech endorsing Brett Kavanaugh."

As in poker, this to me is the "tell." Basically, because it's simply an ipse dixit falsehood. First, Collins did not "endorse" Kavanaugh. She explained why, after careful consideration, she was voting "yes" on the President's nominee. We have no idea whether there is someone else that she herself would have preferred (that is, "endorsed"). She had only two choices: vote yes or vote no. She explained why she chose the former.

Professor Starr's "tell" makes it eminently clear that he would have preferred for her to have voted no; and that's what, in his mind, makes her choice "immoderate." In other words, it's another example of classic intellectual narcissism: I'm "moderate" in my views; therefore, anyone who doesn't share my views is "immoderate."

Second, I would invite anyone who hasn't done so to view the video of or read Senator Collins's speech. Whether you agree with her ultimate decision or not, there is nothing immoderate about that speech—not the tone, not the content, not the reasoning—nothing. Indeed, it was a paragon of moderation in a sea of senatorial behavior fairly described as the opposite. Professor Starr's description of the speech as "immoderate" tells us much more about him than it does about Senator Collins.

Last point: yes, the old-line moderate Republicans of the Senate are largely extinct. But so are the old-line moderate Democrats. And I'm not talking here about the Southern segregationists who so important a component of the old Democratic coalition. I'm talking, rather, about people like Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, John Glenn, Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, and even Lyndon Johnson. There were many others. That brand of Senate Democrat doesn't exist today to any greater or lesser extent than do the old-line moderate Republicans.

The political parties (as distinct from the country itself) are sharply polarized because both of them have lost their moderates. For Professor Starr to adopt the conceit (shared by the Times editors) that the problem is that the Republicans alone have lost moderates demonstrates only that he is a non-objective partisan himself.

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Other reader comments on this item

Title By Date
"Moderate" and "center" are wrong conceptualizations [135 words]Harry BinswangerOct 29, 2018 15:54
⇒ The Moderate Democrats Have Disappeared as Well [398 words]Frank BarronOct 22, 2018 18:52
Barton nailed it. [10 words]tpboyleOct 24, 2018 12:27
Mirror, Mirror
[w/response] [46 words]
Adam WildavskyOct 22, 2018 17:24
I have no accent [311 words]Harry BinswangerOct 29, 2018 16:21
You hafta realize... [10 words]Trenton SamOct 22, 2018 17:10

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