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What does being a moderate mean? Answer: David Brooks


For over a decade, David Brooks of the New York Times has been probably the most influential columnist in America. Influence is impossible to measure, of course, but one reason he has thrived is that politicians of all sides take his calls, thinking he will judge them according to their merit, and not because of ideological predisposition. That is a central tenet of what it is to be a moderate, and he devotes his column today to a lengthy exploration of that word.

He writes: "Moderates start with a political vision, but they get it from history books, not philosophy books. That is, a moderate isn’t ultimately committed to an abstract idea. Instead, she has a deep reverence for the way people live in her country and the animating principle behind that way of life. In America, moderates revere the fact that we are a nation of immigrants dedicated to the American dream — committed to the idea that each person should be able to work hard and rise."

And then later: "The moderate creates her policy agenda by looking to her specific circumstances and seeing which things are being driven out of proportion at the current moment. This idea — that you base your agenda on your specific situation — may seem obvious, but immoderate people often know what their solutions are before they define the problems."