The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A response to a comment

Normally, when a comment is made to a post of mine, I reply to the comment directly. But this comment, posted by Solomon Kleinsmith to my post on centrism and term limits deserves more attention than just a comment-on-a-comment:
Term Limits don't have anything to do with ideology. There is no conservative, liberal or centrist position on term limits...

And there is a actually quite a bit of cohesion on the issues among centrists. The defining characteristics of centrists is NOT that they take from both sides, its that they stand between the two sides. People can be liberal on some issues, and conservative on others... that doesn't make them a centrist. For example libertarians are more conservative than most conservatives on government spending, and are more liberal than most liberals on keeping government out of our personal lives... and they are in no way shape or form at all centrist.


First, on the first paragraph, while I agree that "[t]here is no conservative, liberal or centrist position on term limits," there does seem to be more support for term limits among "Tea Party" type conservatives than anyone else. That being said, of course Kleinsmith himself is one big exception.

Now to the second. Certainly, I do not maintain that everyone who takes ideas from both the left and right is a centrist — the implication of Kleinsmith's example of the libertarians. But he is refuting the converse of my claim. Not everyone who takes ideas from both the left and right is a centrist, but everyone who is a centrist, of necessity, takes ideas from both the left and right. That is not the same thing. And my point in my original post is that there are people who call themselves "centrists" who still differ greatly on which ideas of the left and which ideas of the right they favor. I do not think that Kleinsmith can make a good case that I'm wrong.

2 comments:

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

The only way you can support your claim is if you believe that there is some line in the sand between the two major parties, and if you are even one grain of sand away from it one way or the other, you're taking a liberal position, or a conservative position.

This is absurd as position as saying that everything right of liberal is theocratic, or everything left of conservative is socialism. There is a huge range between the ideologies of the left and the right, and plenty of people who take centrist stances.

You're defining the world through the lens they have given you... black and white, or more appropriately red and blue.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

There is not just left and right, there isn't even just left on the left, or right on the right.

Opinionator said...

"The only way you can support your claim is if you believe that there is some line in the sand between the two major parties, and if you are even one grain of sand away from it one way or the other, you're taking a liberal position, or a conservative position."

Not at all. But on most controversial topics, there are two opposed positions, and not much room for compromise between. So a "centrist" position is really a selection of right and left positions.

For example, the "left" wants abortion on demand, saying it is the right of the mother to choose. The "right" says the fetus is a person, and it has a right to life. A "centrist" position would be to say that in some cases, abortion should be legal, for the good of the mother's health (but whether mental health is included might be a matter of difference between self-declared centrists), while in other cases the law can prevent it. There is no way of defining a "centrist" position except that, instead of an absolute adherence to one or the other position, one must look at the circumstances.

I challenge you to come up with a major controversy in which a "centrist" position can be defined which is not "a little bit of what the 'left' wants, a little bit of what the 'right' wants."