October 24th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #643 'Moderates in moderation'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama used to talk a lot about finding common ground between the political left and right. It seems like that would almost certainly have to be somewhere in the middle…

Dear Mr. President,

On the radio the other morning, I heard yet another one of those calls that leave me puzzled. The subject was the rising frustration of moderate voters, the Militant Middle as I’ve often referred to them. This caller, and a compendium of others who followed, said something along the lines of, “Moderates are simply disengaged, uninformed people who stand for no principles and can’t get anything done. Elect moderates and all you’ll get is the gridlock of indecision.”

Correct me if I’m wrong (and I frequently am) but we’ve been electing partisans for ages now. You, me, and the dog can all see that the result has certainly not been a finely tuned machine of government. To the contrary, the reason moderate voters are foaming at the mouth is the sense that partisans have created not theoretical, but actual, gridlock.

How can the idea of compromise, especially in a democracy, seem so troubling to some? I don’t have any complaint with either side “winning” when they have the votes, and thereby pushing the policies they truly think are best for all of America. After all, if they get it wrong, they’ll be loading up their cardboard boxes and heading home soon enough.

But I don’t see how it is good for anyone, let alone everyone, for people on the far left or far right to simply dedicate themselves to scuttling any hope of any agreement on anything. Aren’t there things most of us would like, regardless of our political views? Safe neighborhoods. Reliable jobs. Good schools. Isn’t the very essence of leadership finding ways to provide such things in a way that both sides can support? And it seems to me that this requires, yes, moderation and compromise.

As I often put it, plenty of Americans disagree with their neighbors from time to time, but most of them don’t want to burn the other guy’s house down. They work out agreements with which they both can live, and which maintains peace and progress for the whole neighborhood.

Just a thought. Hope your Sunday is going well.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Amen on this letter Tom but it seems to me Our fellow Americans too much like adversarial styles, love gossip even more and can be influenced by it, and manage to conjure up conspiracy which really gets attention and for sure does influence votes irespective of validity or otherwise in the end
    When the electorate is based on such divisive thoughts filibusters need putting in the bin the rules have changed so much they are nonsense.
    Amen the good old compromise in the interests of "we the people"

    October 25, 2010 at 2:14 am |
  2. Stan

    It really has little to do with moderates or moderation, librals, or conservatives. Will we ever be ab le to handle and /or tell the truth. It's all about making sure the majority never rules. The want us to forget power in numbers and dwell on money being power and gold holders making the rules.

    October 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  3. Marcus W.

    Good fences make good neighbors – trite but true as they say.
    Would you want to compromise with someone with an insane belief?
    So many are unreasonable about their beliefs, how can you trust them to be reasonable about things – a middle ground is just stupid in those cases.

    October 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Merle Dunn

    I feel the main problem in our government today is that our president thinks that he is always right regardless of what the issue maybe. I am 71years of age,I am a senior citizen just trying to get by day by day, but I am smart enough to know that I am not always right about every thing in my life. Until our
    president puts his ego aside there will never be a comprise about any situation in our government. I am not a fan of Bill Clinton,maybe because of his misconduct while he was our president, but even he knew how to
    comprise & deal with issues, our president now
    I believe does not have that in him. Yes,he is
    a smart man,but even the people who are much
    smarter than he will ever be can admit they are
    not right all the time.
    Thank you Tom for your comments I read them almost every day & most of the time I agree with your statements so keep on writing those letters to the president.

    October 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  5. Ronnie

    Hi Tom,
    You are so exactly right – I can't find a moderate voice anyplace but your "place." You get more blogs/attention from me than anyone...
    Thanks Tom...

    October 24, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  6. Dawn

    That caller had it very wrong. Im one of those "militant moderates" and I am far from being disengaged nor uninformed. Quite the opposite. I realize that extreme partisanship is dangerous and unproductive. All it does is divide. It never unites and encouraged thoughtful open-minded debate. I don't think of "winning". I think in terms of coming to agreement and win/win for both sides. Life isn't a competition in my mind, it's something to be lived and worked thru while doing our best to help each other do the same. It's about growth, not about putting the other side down.

    Tom, you wrote "To the contrary, the reason moderate voters are foaming at the mouth is the sense that partisans have created not theoretical, but actual, gridlock."

    That is exactly it. The partisans have caused this and the rest of us suffer do to their ego-wielding need to "win" at all costs

    October 24, 2010 at 9:17 am |